Chris Jaffe has posted his second annual review of “convenience” and “order processing” charges of major league baseball teams. The previous installment was called “The $17 ticket that cost $25” describes these charges, where when you try to purchase a $17 ticket online you find $10 worth of additional charges to print your own tickets at home. These extra costs can be avoided by buying tickets at the gate.
The charges range $11.25 for the Red Sox to $2.00 to the Brewers. So what is the economics behind these charges? Let’s go to the supply and demand curves.
We can basically ignore the supply curve. The local MLB team is a monopoly (or close). Plus the additional cost of selling one extra ticket online is close to zero. All teams likely pay the same to Ticketmaster to receive the tech support to sell tickets online, so demand is driving the price differences between teams.
So why is Red Sox Nation paying 5 times as much as the Brew Crew? Well, these charges can be avoided by purchasing the tickets at the stadium on the day of the game, but the Red Sox are selling out basically every game so the convenience fee is actually a way to charge a higher price to guarantee tickets.
But, the Brewers are also selling out games this year and their $2 charge is half of the Texas Rangers the next lowest team. So the Brewers are a bit of an outlier. But generally, teams that did better last year had higher convenience charges. See the chart to the side. A regression analysis shows for each extra game a team won in 2007 that their 2008 convenience charge was 5 cents higher (P-value = .11). This should not surprise us since better teams are more likely to sell out and people pay the convenience charge to avoid not getting tickets.