steve mizuno
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I grew up in a time when baseball players (and football players) used to have jobs in the off-season. Regular people jobs. Some few of them could make enough money through endorsements that they didn't HAVE to, but the majority of them had to - to support themselves. Stories about icons such as Johnny Unitas working to install his own appliances circulate. You wouldn't catch any Hall of Famer (or even first string player) doing the same kind of work nowadays.

Now, I'm not saying that its horrible that sports figures now earn enough money to set themselves for life - along with pension systems that put nearly any other system that an average joe has access to to shame.

But I am going to say that the money in sports now has corrupted it, and tainted my enjoyment of the games. One of the most distressing aspects of this is the prices commanded for seats in these sports locales - in some cases, PUBLICLY FUNDED sports forums. The evil part of this is that the average fan - the "Joe Sixpack", as it were, is now being priced out of attending games of his favorite sport.

And what drives these prices? The top end tickets. When there was limited corporate sponsorship of (take your pick) football, baseball, basketball, ticket prices tended to be relatively low.

According to at least one source, the real cost of baseball tickets since 1970 have increased 66%. I believe that this escalation in cost is not due to increased interest in any sport, but due to the corporate largesse that:

1. Narrows the number of high end seats and their availability.
2. Artificially inflates demand for a ticket.
3. Allows for increased salaries for the players, also inflating the ticket prices.

These causes can all be traced to corporate sponsorship. The truly evil part of the equation, for a fan of "America's game", is that now, the corporation, in addition to having these deleterious effects on what should be a market drive by FAN interest, now passes these costs on to the consumer, driving the prices of basic goods and commodities up.

The solution? Outlaw tax breaks for corporate sponsorship of professional sports teams. Why should a corporation benefit from costs to a bottom line (which they're going to pass on to the consumer anyway) by making those "advertising" costs tax deductible? If you can't get someone to buy your product or service without literally bribing him with deluxe seats to his favorite sporting venue, arguably, your product or service doesn't merit purchase. And if sponsorship is worth the investment, corporations will advertise ANYWAY, even if they don't get a break on deductions.

I write this from the point of view of a former season ticket holder. Sometime after the new ball park was built in San Diego, ticket prices jumped dramatically. Fan friendly programs were cut and smacked hard. The team has created a situation in which a middle class person cannot afford to purchase season tickets.

Look - this isn't football I'm talking about. There are 81!!! home games a year in a baseball season, not including spring training games, and possible playoff participation. Plenty of time to make back your $$$. However, addiction to corporate money has driven many fans out of the market.

Before the move to the new ballpark, I used to sit up in the nosebleeds with a LOT of season ticket holders. Every once in a while, there would be some promotion, and I sat in other, more expensive seats. When I sat in these areas, I was stunned by the number of people who were clearly using the seats due to some corporate (or private company) sponsorship. (By the way, many of these people were clearly NOT baseball fans, at least as I would define them.)

This situation rapidly deteriorated after the move. More people than ever were clearly there as a result of some business gift. I finally gave up the seats, and follow only via TV. There is no longer any sense of wonder in the game for me. I still enjoy watching the games, and have attended a playoff game or two, but have completely given up my previous fascination with the game. This seems somehow criminal. Baseball, with 81 home games, should be a sport for the masses, accessible to nearly all, and a series of enjoyable events for most. Now, more than ever before, it is a game in search of the almighty dollar, with little appreciation for the fan. Sure... you can get $5 seats in a grassy area, with little view of the game (around 425-475 feet from home plate), but this hold little interest for me.
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Randy Cox
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I've never lived within season-long commuting distance of a major league ballpark, and I suspect that is true of most citizens. I don't think it matters all that much to us whether or not locals are priced out of "their own" ballpark. That's my guess as to why prices have gone up. Real fans who don't have the luxury of living in the back yard of a ballpark can watch on TV. And since most teams (even the Padres) are in huge metropolises, there will always be enough high rollers to pay top dollar.

I'm not sure it's corporate sponsorship buying up all those seats. I have a friend who owned a small business, but he purchased a box for Clemson University football games. He used that to wine and dine potential customers. That's one of the ways business is done. So, I suppose it's not ridiculous for a company to purchase quality seats (at top dollar) to do a little networking. When a bigwig isn't in town, give them to "the help."

I'm not against your plight. I wish baseball games were 25 cents a pop and anyone could just walk up to the stadium and buy a good ticket for that price. I wish this happened in the daytime, too. And I wish the strike zone really did go from the armpits to the knees and was only as wide as the plate. And I wish pitchers worked faster and threw fewer pitches per batter. In other words, I wish we hadn 1915 baseball in 2009. Alas, we don't.
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There's plenty of baseball games you can afford to go see. My local pro team is $7 a game, with great local microbrews on tap, veggie dogs, and a sweet-ass band that plays "Crazy Train," the Super Mario theme music, and anything else you care to request.

My boys play their asses off and appreciate every single one of their fans and will stay as long as you or your kids want to talk to them. No, you can't see them on TV. And I wouldn't want to.

GO CRABS!!
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steve mizuno
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Koldfoot wrote:
Professional sports? Boardgaming is the pastime that consumes my disposable income. Couldn't even tell you who won the last Super Bowl, and my quality of life has not been diminished one iota by not knowing or caring.

As noted above, if I were to support a sports team, it would be my local Ice Dogs (hockey) or Gold Panners (baseball). Professional sports saturates our culture and I, for one, grew disinterested many decades ago.

Dissatisfied? Move on to a new pastime. The minor leagues are really a good place to start.


Let me give you an analogy for the type of response you just posted:

The only supermarket in reasonable reach is now charging 3X the regional average price for fresh produce. A complaint is filed with the store manager/local consumer watchdog organization. The response comes back:

Buy the frozen produce or stop eating it altogether.

Now, I understand your response. I have adopted it in some measure, as I have basically gone from spending $2k a year or more on baseball to about $0. (not including the price of the cable bill). However, the larger problem still exists - communities, and government, should not be subsidizing the costs and passing them on.

AND... I would say that with the current tax structure, there IS no way to avoid some aspect of subsidy in anyone's life, as the advertising costs are being added to the per unit consumer items that you buy that have ABSOLUTELY no connection to the sport in question, save that the company/corporation is spending marketing money on that sport.

You can avoid the direct costs, but not the indirect ones, and that is a problem - or it should be - for everyone not interested in that sport. Me - I can't stand NASCAR - but when I walk into a NAPA store, I'm indirectly subsidizing NASCAR through the purchase of NAPA parts.
 
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soltan gris wrote:


You can avoid the direct costs, but not the indirect ones, and that is a problem - or it should be - for everyone not interested in that sport. Me - I can't stand NASCAR - but when I walk into a NAPA store, I'm indirectly subsidizing NASCAR through the purchase of NAPA parts.


Are you saying that NAPA shouldn't sponsor NASCAR or that they should feel free to do so but that you don't like shopping there or won't shop there because of it? I'm trying to understand this point.
 
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steve mizuno
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Randy Cox wrote:
I'm not sure it's corporate sponsorship buying up all those seats. I have a friend who owned a small business, but he purchased a box for Clemson University football games. He used that to wine and dine potential customers. That's one of the ways business is done. So, I suppose it's not ridiculous for a company to purchase quality seats (at top dollar) to do a little networking. When a bigwig isn't in town, give them to "the help."


Liked your response, especially the 1915 baseball remark. Work fast, change speeds, move the ball around.

But the comment above is part of the problem. It doesn't matter if its a corporation or a company or small business. The willingness of these private entities to purchase seats or boxes at exorbitant rates, then take these $$$ of the bottom line as advertising revenue - is a problem. Basically, if you owned a small business, you could subsidize your own entertainment costs. Don't tell me this doesn't happen - and I see no reason why this should be allowable. Corporations do the same thing - the bottom line is that this practice, in addition to driving up the costs of all seats (diminishing availability), also drives up the price of basic goods and services. Some industries are a lot worse about this... and I think the biggest problem is with the largest corporations - but I also found that most of the people sitting in what I would deem "premium" seating areas, were sitting there not because of a true love of the game, but because they were there for the freebies - seats, food, etc. - and if you look at the effect this has on a macro scale, it drives up the price of every good or service which is using this subsidy.
 
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steve mizuno
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No. What I'm saying is that sponsorship of an event should not be an allowable corporate deduction (advertising). And yes, I don't appreciate that the fact that NAPA subsidizes NASCAR means that the set of spark plug wires costs an additional 25 cents.
 
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I partially agree with you. I'm going to assume what you're saying is true about corporate tickets and tax write-offs even though I don't know for certain.

Corporations and businesses running up the price on admissions while getting a tax deduction for it is wrong.

Also, paying for stadiums with tax dollars might be wrong depending on the result. If the community benefits financially more from it than they pay into it, then I think it's clear that it's a good thing. Player salaries and ticket prices aren't really related to that part of it. This is a simple: Is the community gaining or losing money overall through the funding of a sports venue?

Back to corporate tickets. If they're running up the prices so that Joe Six-Pack can no longer attend I have no problem with it as long as they're not doing it AND getting tax breaks. Joe doesn't have a "right" to attend sporting events nor should he expect prices to remain within his budget. If prices go too high, fewer people will attend which will force prices back down. Nobody can expect a business, even a sports team, to charge less than they can get for their product. This is especially true with non-essential services like professional sports.

I don't like paying 25 cents more at NAPA either, but there is nothing wrong with them charging 25 cents more as long as there is a competitor I can go to. In fact, NAPA does have higher prices than most auto parts stores in my area and I rarely shop there. If that's because of their sponsorships then they're losing my business because of it. That's their problem but I'm not demanding they lower their prices.

The only "artificial inflation" of the sports ticket prices is the difference between what these businesses are paying for the tickets and what they would be paying for them if they weren't a tax write-off. So it's only a portion of the overall expense. I doubt that removing the deduction from their purchase would dramatically decrease their purchase and I doubt the average ticket price or player salary would go down much.
 
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Colleen
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Getting rid of corporate sponsorships = say bye bye to your favorite teams
 
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Scott Russell
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colleens wrote:
Getting rid of corporate sponsorships = say bye bye to your favorite teams


I like this idea. Does that mean I can stop subsidizing their stadii, too?
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Jorge Montero
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qzhdad wrote:
colleens wrote:
Getting rid of corporate sponsorships = say bye bye to your favorite teams


I like this idea. Does that mean I can stop subsidizing their stadii, too?


The masses remain happy due to their supply of bread and circus. Do you really want to stop subsidizing the circus?
 
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steve mizuno
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jarredscott78 wrote:
The only "artificial inflation" of the sports ticket prices is the difference between what these businesses are paying for the tickets and what they would be paying for them if they weren't a tax write-off. So it's only a portion of the overall expense. I doubt that removing the deduction from their purchase would dramatically decrease their purchase and I doubt the average ticket price or player salary would go down much.


If private industries were not getting tax breaks for things like corporate skyboxes, premium seats, etc., do you think they would be buying them in the numbers that they currently are?

Free market economics says that when you increase the supply of a good, the market will drive the price of that good downward.
 
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steve mizuno
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colleens wrote:
Getting rid of corporate sponsorships = say bye bye to your favorite teams


Sponsorship, if given up by ALL CITIES, would leave the game at a zero sum total. The problem I have with sponsorship, whether by companies or corporations, is that they not only take the tax deduction from "advertising", but that they then turn around and increase the per unit price on the good or service that they are selling.

This is particularly egregious when it comes to seating. The eating up of a limited supply (seats) drives the price up due to demand.

Making a statement that on the face of it, no professional team can afford to exist without some sort of private largesse within their designated francise area just seems to me to make the statement that they are in essence unprofitable.

Now, I think it was a crying shame that Johnny Unitas had to work in the off season. But in the modern picture, is the product of labor of, say, a middle reliever in an 11 man pitching staff equal to that of 10 commercial airline pilots? Or 20 restaurant managers?

The economics of professional sports has become increasingly insane, especially when you start looking at the demands that have been made by some sports franchises upon their supporting communities. If the economic model doesn't work, then the compensation, profit, and the support for these franchises should experience dramatic reductions.

I believe that corporate and private sponsorships are a significant contributing factor to the accelerating costs of sports for the fan base. Especially when teams take entire areas that could house MANY more fans out of circulation to provide upscale accomodations to the top tenth of a percent of the fan base.

What gets me is that people accept this - that they are willing to accept that the costs of basic goods and services are increased (admittedly, on a small per unit basis) to provide support for these organizations. What is the true cost to the economy to provide this kind of support? How much of your income are you willing to sacrifice to be able to casually follow a team? Or NOT follow a team, because even if you don't... the goods and services are more costly to you because of these hidden subsidies.
 
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Kenneth Bailey
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soltan gris wrote:
Randy Cox wrote:
I'm not sure it's corporate sponsorship buying up all those seats. I have a friend who owned a small business, but he purchased a box for Clemson University football games. He used that to wine and dine potential customers. That's one of the ways business is done. So, I suppose it's not ridiculous for a company to purchase quality seats (at top dollar) to do a little networking. When a bigwig isn't in town, give them to "the help."


Liked your response, especially the 1915 baseball remark. Work fast, change speeds, move the ball around.

But the comment above is part of the problem. It doesn't matter if its a corporation or a company or small business. The willingness of these private entities to purchase seats or boxes at exorbitant rates, then take these $$$ of the bottom line as advertising revenue - is a problem. Basically, if you owned a small business, you could subsidize your own entertainment costs. Don't tell me this doesn't happen - and I see no reason why this should be allowable. Corporations do the same thing - the bottom line is that this practice, in addition to driving up the costs of all seats (diminishing availability), also drives up the price of basic goods and services. Some industries are a lot worse about this... and I think the biggest problem is with the largest corporations - but I also found that most of the people sitting in what I would deem "premium" seating areas, were sitting there not because of a true love of the game, but because they were there for the freebies - seats, food, etc. - and if you look at the effect this has on a macro scale, it drives up the price of every good or service which is using this subsidy.

If I remember correctly, the IRS changed the way entertainment expenses are deducted.
 
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soltan gris wrote:
jarredscott78 wrote:
The only "artificial inflation" of the sports ticket prices is the difference between what these businesses are paying for the tickets and what they would be paying for them if they weren't a tax write-off. So it's only a portion of the overall expense. I doubt that removing the deduction from their purchase would dramatically decrease their purchase and I doubt the average ticket price or player salary would go down much.


If private industries were not getting tax breaks for things like corporate skyboxes, premium seats, etc., do you think they would be buying them in the numbers that they currently are?

Free market economics says that when you increase the supply of a good, the market will drive the price of that good downward.


I already answered this question.

jarredscott78 wrote:
I doubt that removing the deduction from their purchase would dramatically decrease their purchase and I doubt the average ticket price or player salary would go down much.


You're right about free market economics which is why they would go down a little. It's not going to help Joe very much for his $80 ticket to go down to $75.
 
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