MLB Suspensions Impact on Ticket Prices

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There were thirteen MLB players suspended Monday for their use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. The suspensions follow a 65-game ban for Ryan Braun who was the first player suspended in the wake of MLB’s Biogenesis investigation. While twelve of the thirteen players suspended Monday received a 50-game suspension without appeal (and accepted), New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriquez was handed the stiffest penalty, a 211-game ban which would take him through the 2014 regular season without pay. Because Rodriguez appealed the suspension, he is allowed to play until his case is heard by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. The ruling is expected to happen no earlier than November (after the postseason).

How have the MLB suspensions affected the relevant team’s ticket prices? We compared the average price for home games to be played between August 10, 2013 and the end of the regular season on both July 19 (before) and August 9 (after). July 19 was three days before Braun’s suspension was announced, today is four days after the thirteen suspensions were announced. It typically takes a few days for prices to change on the secondary market following a large ‘event’ (injury, trade, suspension, etc.). These numbers reflect the drop or rise of demand in a team. Aside from Rodriguez who has returned from injury, if a suspended player had been injured for most the season, we considered them irrelevant in our study. We would expect that a team’s decrease or increase in ticket price would not be a direct result of their suspension; these players are noted with “N/A” in the chart below. In addition, we did not look at minor league team’s change in prices or players that were recently traded; these teams are also noted with “N/A”.

Suspended MLB Players Team No. of Games Suspended Before Avg. (8/10 – EOS) After Avg. (8/10 – EOS)
Alex Rodriguez (was injured) Yankees 211 $93 $103 11%
Ryan Braun Brewers 65 $49 $42 -14%
Nelson Cruz Rangers 50 $98 $80 -18%
Everth Cabrera Padres 50 $56 $54 -4%
Jhonny Peralta Tigers 50 $64 $63 -2%
Antonio Bastardo Phillies 50 $71 $61 -14%
Jordany Valdespin Mets 50 $76 $76 0%
Francisco Cervelli (was injured) Yankees 50 N/A N/A N/A
Fernando Martinez (trade) Yankees 50 N/A N/A N/A
Jesus Montero (was injured) AAA 50 N/A N/A N/A
Cesar Puello AA 50 N/A N/A N/A
Sergio Escalona AA 50 N/A N/A N/A
Fautino De Los Santos (was injured) Free Agent 50 N/A N/A N/A
Jordan Norberto Free Agent 50 N/A N/A N/A

Based on ticket prices, the New York Yankees were the only team to see an increase in ticket price since July 19. This should come as no surprise considering the only player that was handed a suspension, appealed (Rodriguez) and is therefore playing. The bump in average price of New York Yankees tickets coincides with Rodriquez’s return from injury. In other words, the MLB club has not only retained their star player through the suspensions and the end of the year, they have essentially returned him to the field. A-Rod’s Yankee’s home return against the Detroit Tigers tonight is the most expensive MLB game this weekend. With Rodriquez back in the lineup, Yankees tickets have seen an 11% increase in the last three weeks.

At the end of July, we evaluated Brewers tickets in our MLB August update. At that time, Brewers tickets at home in August were the second cheapest in the League following 2012 NL Home Run leader Ryan Braun’s suspension. When adding September prices, Brewers tickets saw a 14% fall in average price since three weeks ago. With Philadelphia Phillies tickets, the two teams saw the second highest percentage decrease in price of the MLB team’s affected by the suspensions.

Texas Rangers tickets at home saw the biggest drop in average price at 18%, an average of $18 per ticket. The Rangers first game at home following the suspension of team leader and key position player Nelson Cruz will not come until August 13 against the Brewers.

The biggest surprise on this list is the lack of change in Detroit Tigers tickets. Like Cruz, Jhonny Peralta is a leader on this squad and also a key position player. The two-time All-Star, most recently in 2013, finished last season with a .988 fielding percentage. Perhaps the biggest change for the 2012 American League pennant winners will not be in ticket prices at home but rather in their W-L record. However, since Monday, the Detroit Tigers swept Cleveland on the road. All eyes are on the Tigers.

Image Credit: Otto Greule Jr (Getty Images)

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