The issue of supporters being ripped off is a growing one throughout the world of sport. Most recently, we have seen protests at a number of Premier League soccer matches as ticket prices continue to rise disproportionately to inflation. English soccer supporters are not alone in their plight though. The cost of American football, basketball, hockey, cricket and even rugby union tickets feature on this list alongside soccer in terms of teams ripping off their fans.
The most notable thing about this list, I believe, is the fact that most of the teams on this list, barring a select few, still manage to fill their stadiums/arenas, or are at least running at close to maximum capacity. Whilst this is the case, it is surely no surprise that ticket prices are either being frozen or continuing to rise. If most of these teams lowered their ticket prices, they would simply be losing money.
A number of factors have been accounted for in creating this list. Both the ticket prices themselves as well as virtual necessities which are regularly purchased at sports stadiums, such as beer, soda, food and parking. To break down the list, as previously mentioned, six sports feature on the list, from seven different leagues, these are; the Premier League, Serie A, NFL, NHL, NBA, Aviva Premiership and international cricket. Another important factor in this list will be what the teams give back to their fans (success, championships, etc...)
Here are the top 15 sports teams that rip off their fans.
15 Los Angeles Lakers
The most valuable franchise in the NBA and one of the most successful franchises in sports, the L.A. Lakers charge an average of just over $100 a ticket, whilst resale value for tickets are currently averaging $227. The TFC (Total Family Cost) of going to see the Lakers in action, which factors in the ticket price, a beer/soda, a hot dog and parking for a family of four is $982. So if you're looking for a cheap day out with the family, the Staples Center when the Lakers are playing is not the place to be. As one of the league's flagship franchises, the Lakers can afford to charge extortionate rates, even when the team is not performing particularly well, as has been the case the last couple of seasons.
14 Chelsea F.C.
This season's Premier League champions, Chelsea, have been accused of playing 'boring' soccer this season by some of their critics. However, should you want to see this 'boring' soccer in action, it won't be cheap. The cheapest match day ticket at Chelsea will cost you $78, whilst the most expensive will set you back $135. As for a season ticket, the cheapest is just under $1,200 with the most expensive being $2,000. Whilst Chelsea's ticket prices are extortionate, you should at least get the chance to see Mourinho's men win. The Blues are the only team unbeaten at home in the Premier League, having won 14 and drawn 4 of their 18 home games.
13 Northampton Saints
The only rugby team on this list, Northampton Saints are a rugby union side from the East Midlands of England. Aviva Premiership league champions for 2014-15, the Saints are one of the top rugby union clubs in the country. Whilst rugby league and rugby union tickets, as a rule, tend to be much cheaper than their soccer counterparts in England, Northampton are something of an exception. Although you can sometimes get a match day ticket for as little as $34, they also sell for as much as $65 for bigger games. Northampton also have the most expensive season tickets in rugby union, with their most expensive seats costing just over $800.
12 Vancouver Canucks
In terms of NHL ticket prices, it is no surprise to see a Canadian team on this list. In fact, five of the top six most expensive NHL tickets are Canadian sides, and of those, the Canucks are the second most expensive. Three-time defeated Stanley Cup finalists and two-time Presidents' Trophy winners, the Canucks play in the 18,860 capacity Rogers Arena. According to TiqIQ in 2014, the average resale ticket price to see the Canucks is $282. However, it appears fans are no longer willing to stump up the lucrative ticket costs, with tickets earlier this year selling for as low as $25 on StubHub for a game against the Winnipeg Jets, as the Canucks struggled to fill their ground.
11 Chesterfield F.C.
The minnows of this list, some of you may never have even heard of Chesterfield F.C. An English soccer club, Chesterfield have never played in the Premier League or in the old First Division. The club is currently in the third tier of English soccer, known as League One. Nicknamed the Spireites, Chesterfield's most famous achievement is reaching an FA Cup semi-final back in 1997. They play their home games at the Proact Stadium, which opened in 2010 and holds 10,504 people. Given the club's low status, you may be surprised to hear that a season ticket at Chesterfield will cost more than one at Premier League clubs like Manchester City, Aston Villa and Stoke and even European giants like Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Season tickets range from $550 to $855, whilst match day tickets start at $38 and finish at $44.
10 England Cricket Team
Whilst there has been much controversy in England over the price of soccer tickets, it is not the most expensive sport to watch in the country. That mantle belongs to cricket, not county cricket, but the national cricket team. If you wanted to witness one day of England versus Australia at Lords, the average ticket will cost you $130. This is partly to do with the fact that Lords Cricket Ground, often known as 'The Home of Cricket', can only hold 28,000 people. Whilst cricket is immensely popular in England, especially the country's national team, the authorities that be can afford to charge excessively. It is worth bearing in mind that for your $130 you do get a full day's worth of entertainment, which cannot be said for most sports. In truth, both the English National soccer and rugby teams could also be included, as games at Wembley and Tickenham often reach extortionate prices.
9 Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have jumped up this list massively over the last couple of years, showing the importance of on-field success. Consecutive Super Bowl appearances with one victory has seen the Seahawks rise from the eighth or ninth most expensive team to watch in the NFL to one of the top three. In that time, ticket prices at the CenturyLink Field have almost doubled, with the average ticket price now in the region of $450, around $200 more than in 2012-13. At least they equated their ticket prices to the team's success which is more that can be said about other teams on this list.
8 A.C. Milan
Whilst it is the Premier League that attracts the most criticism with regards to ticket pricing, one club that challenges the English elite are Italian giants AC Milan. Currently in some of the worst form in the club's history, languishing in the midtable of Serie A, their poor performances are not reflected in their season ticket pricing. With one of the most varied pricing policies in world soccer, it is possible to get a season ticket at the San Siro for just over $250, but they are few and far between, and the most expensive will cost you an eye-watering $5,600. Match day tickets are equally diverse, ranging from a reasonable $26 to a pricey $465, bizarrely almost double what some season tickets will cost you.
7 New York Knicks
Whilst most NBA teams' ticket prices fluctuate depending on rosters and on-court success, the New York Knicks are the exception to this rule. One of the founding members on the BAA and consistently successful, the Knicks are worth $2.5 billion, making them the second most valuable NBA team. For the last two decades, the Knicks have failed to reach the heights of former years, winning only one division title in this time, the team still has the second most expensive tickets in the NBA, averaging $122. Factor in other expenses and the TFC of a Knicks game for a family of four is said to be $645, as food, drink and parking is more expensive than any other team in the league. This is in part due to the Knicks home, Madison Square Garden, a world-renowned arena, and they also have the added bonus of playing in the biggest market in the U.S.
6 Tottenham Hotspur
Watching live soccer in England is notoriously expensive, particularly in London. Tottenham are the second club from the English capital on this list, and still not the last. The North Londers consistently find themselves in the upper reaches of the Premier League table, although they have never won the competition, and rarely finish in the division's top 4 places which are required to qualify for the Champions League. Spurs have only won one competition in the last two decades, a League Cup win in 2008, and haven't won the league since 1961. With the second most expensive tickets in the Premier League, White Hart Lane is a costly day out. The cheapest season ticket at Tottenham will cost you $1,200, and the most expensive $2,950. Meanwhile, match day tickets range from $50 to $125.
5 Chicago Bears
Still one of the most successful NFL franchises of all time, despite a period of limited success, the Chicago Bears were the most successful franchise in the league's first 40 years, in which time they won eight World Championships. In the Super Bowl era, the Bears have struggled to replicate this success, having reached only two Super Bowls and winning one. Watching the Bears in action at the 61,500 capacity Soldier Field stadium will cost you on average just over $110, whilst the TFC tells us that taking a family of four to a game will set you back the considerable sum of $610, making it the second most expensive day out in the NFL. And to make matters worse, you still have to watch Jay Cutler play.
4 Arsenal F.C.
One of the most successful soccer teams in England, Arsenal hold a number of records. The most notable of these is the longest winning and unbeaten run in Premier League history. On top of that, the Gunners have won 13 league titles and 11 FA Cup's. Arsenal moved to the stunning Emirates Stadium in 2006, and few could argue with the design and appearance of the ground, they could argue about the stadium's pricing though. The most expensive soccer team in the world to watch, the cheapest season ticket at the Emirates costs $1,575, whilst the most expensive is a staggering $3,130. A match day ticket is equally pricey, and while you can get a category C ticket for just $42, most are far more, with category A games being priced at $150.
3 Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are testimony to the sheer value of LeBron James. One of the greatest NBA players of all time, 'King James' left the Miami Heat and returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in June 2014, and tickets to see the Cavs have skyrocketed ever since. In terms of the TFC, the fact that the beer, soda, hot dogs and parking at the Quicken Loans are some of the cheapest in the NBA, does little to ease their exorbitant ticket prices. According to their TFC statistics, taking a family of four to see LeBron and the Cavs in action will cost you over $1,500.
Prior to the King's return, the Cavs were among the lowest TFC in the league at $222.67. Of course, it is not just down to the signing of James, as the Cavs also recruited the Timberwolves star man Kevin Love in 2014. With the trio of James, Love and Irving, the team is a treat to watch, but are they worth more than the average two weeks wage in the U.S. to watch? Apparently, 20,562 people think so, as the Cavs are running at 99.2% capacity in 2015 and having no trouble selling tickets.
Cleveland better hope for their sake that the insane spike in ticket prices at least brings home the franchise's first championship.
2 Toronto Maple Leafs
The most expensive ticket in the NHL is to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs, and by some distance too. The most valuable NHL franchise, worth over $1.1 billion, the average Leafs ticket costs around $125, whilst the TiqIQ puts the average resale value of a Leafs ticket at $373, almost $100 more than that of the second most expensive NHL ticket. Thirteen time Stanley Cup champions, only the Montreal Candiens have won more. The Maple Leafs appear to be having no trouble selling tickets at those prices though, the Air Canada Center is currently averaging attendances of 19,062, over 98% if the arena's capacity. This is an awfully steep price to pay for a team with no Stanley Cups since 1967, and only one playoff appearance in the last decade. Maybe those high ticket prices all these years were meant to pay Mike Babcock's incoming salary.
1 Dallas Cowboys
Football is of course immensely popular in Texas, almost like religion, and in the Lone Star State the Cowboys reign supreme. Having joined the NFL in 1960, they became a dynasty in the early 1990s, but are no longer the dominant franchise of that era, although they do remain highly competitive. Playing their home games at the enormous 80,000 seater AT&T stadium, the Cowboys are the most valuable NFL and the most valuable non-soccer team in the world, worth over $3 billion.
While a single ticket to see the Cowboys, priced at $110 does not seem that much greater than a number of other NFL tickets, when you factor in the other costs of watching a game at the AT&T stadium, the difference becomes more clear. Both the TFC (Total Family Cost) and FCI (Fan Cost Index) rank the Cowboys as the most expensive day out in the NFL. According to the TFC, it would cost $635 for a family of four to witness the Cowboys in action plus food, drink and parking. It might be about time for the Cowboys to reward their fans with a Super Bowl win.