Thursday, May 24, 2007

AAA Baseball: The Costs of Progress

Stumbled upon this account of some lad's recent evening at Raley Field in Sacramento, home of the Oakland A's AAA affiliate, the River Cats.

Raley field, built in 2000, is one of the new wave of AAA stadiums that have all but supplanted the likes of Cooper Stadium, the venue that houses my hometown Columbus Clippers. From a baseball perspective I say good riddance to the Cooper Stadiums of the world. They're cramped, and antiquated, and in the Coop's case, located in a part of town to which no one really cares to travel. Well, at least not yet. While one may have made a cogent, albeit vain argument against replacing venerable ballparks like Tiger Stadium with mallparks like Comerica Park, that dog simply doesn't hunt when it comes to aging minor league stadiums like the Coop, which almost uniformly lack the history and utterly fail to inspire the nostalgia of their big league counterparts. The new places have comfy seats, good sight lines and, with the exception of a single metric, outpace their predecessors.

That metric is price. According to our lad at the Sacbee, his ticket at Raley ran him $17. A sandwich and a Coke cost $11.75. A burger was $6.50. A "regular" draft beer ran $6.75 and a large was $8.75. Dumpy old Cooper Stadium is a bargain by comparison, where the priciest single game ticket is $10. There isn't an equivalent to Raley's "tri-tip sandwich," but a burger at the Coop is $3.75. A soda is $3.25. There are no Hefeweisens to be had there, but a 16 oz. draft macrobrew is $3.75 and a 32 oz. (Thursday's only!) is a cool $6.25. That all adds up to a savings of nearly $15 per customer for a night at the Coop comparable to the one laddie enjoyed at Raley. Your mileage may vary, but to me that's a price difference for which the presence of Hefeweisens does not adequately compensate.

The Clippers are scheduled to get their new mallpark in 2009. While I hope by then I too have figured out a way to get paid to go to and write about ballgames, I also hope that they keep a little bit of the Coop around. Otherwise I'm going to have to stick to Shystering.