A lockout that lasted nearly 100 days delayed the start of Major League Baseball’s spring training and caused Opening Day to be moved back a week. Thankfully, the two sides have agreed to a deal, meaning that baseball fans can officially look forward to the return of their favorite sport, even if it comes a bit later in the year than usual.
Prior to the delayed start of the newest season of America’s Pastime, we surveyed over 1,200 fans across all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams to find out who they blame for the lockout and how the lockout will impact the amount of money they spend supporting the league and its teams this season. We also learned how much money fans of each franchise typically spend on stadium concessions, MLB merchandise, and more.
- The majority of MLB fans (62.5%) primarily blame the owners for the lockout. Just 4.5% primarily blame the players.
- 43% of MLB fans say they plan to reduce the amount of money they spend supporting the league and their favorite team because of the lockout.
- Fans of the Oakland Athletics spend the most money ($133.86) on food and drink when they attend a game, while fans of the Detroit Tigers spend the least ($52.24).
- Athletics fans also spend the most on alcoholic beverages at games ($57.80), while Tigers fans spend the least ($15.00) once again.
- Fans of the last three World Series championship teams spend the most annually on team and league merchandise – Atlanta Braves fans rank #1, spending an average of $453.26, followed by Washington Nationals ($338.06) and Los Angeles Dodgers ($305.35) fans.
How baseball fans feel about the lockout
When asked who they blame for the lockout, the majority of baseball fans laid the bulk of the blame at the feet of the owners. Over 60% of fans said they primarily blame the owners for the prolonged labor issues, while one-third blamed both sides equally. A tiny segment of fans (less than 5%) found the players primarily at fault.
We also asked fans to tell us whether the lockout will impact the amount of money they plan to spend supporting Major League Baseball and its teams in the future. A large portion of fans (43%) said they will spend less money supporting MLB going forward. That includes the 6% of fans who say they will not spend any money at all on the product going forward and an additional 22% who say they will be spending much less than usual in the future. Only 2% of fans said they would increase their baseball spending following the lockout.
To better understand how big of an impact a reduction in fan spending may have on the bottom line for Major League Baseball and its teams, it’s helpful to know how much fans typically spend while they root, root, root for the home team.
Fans of these MLB teams spend the most and least on concessions at games
For many fans, no trip to the ballpark is complete without a hot dog and a beer, stadium staples that came with average price tags of $5.32 and $6.72 last season. We asked survey respondents to tell us how much they spend on those fan-favorite foods as well as other snacks and drinks during an average trip to the ballpark.
We found that the average MLB fan spends $74.40 on concessions for themselves and everyone else in their party combined when they attend a game. Oakland Athletics fans are the biggest food and drink spenders in the league, with an average concessions bill in excess of $130 per game. That total is over $20 higher than the second-place fan base, their Bay Area neighbors the San Francisco Giants. Interestingly, the only other fan base that averages more than $100 spent on concessions supports yet another California-based team, the Los Angeles Angels.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we found that the fans of three teams — the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals — all spend less than $55 on concessions when they take in a game. Two other fan bases, those of the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles, spend just over $55 on average. Fans of every other team in the league have an average concession spend in excess of $60.
Fans of these MLB teams spend the most and least on alcohol at games
While alcohol is included as part of the concessions averages above, we wanted to take a deeper look at which fans spend the most and least on booze at the ballpark. We found that the average fan spends over one-third of their overall concessions budget on alcohol, with fans typically spending $27.77 on alcohol every time they take in a game.
Once again, Athletics fans lead the way in this category, shelling out a whopping $57.81 per game on alcohol. That is almost exactly $15 more than the second-place fan base, the St. Louis Cardinals. It also makes Oakland fans the only ones who spend more than twice the league-wide average on alcohol. It is also worth noting that both Chicago teams land in the top five, showing that both north-side and south-side baseball fans can agree that nothing tops a beer at the ballpark.
Similar to how Athletics fans spend the most on concessions in general and alcohol specifically, Tigers fans spend the least on both. Detroit fans average just $15.00 per game buying adult beverages, making them one of four fan bases who spend at least $10 less than the league average in that regard.
Fans of these MLB teams spend the most and least on merchandise
Finally, we asked fans to tell us how much they spend on team merchandise and gear for themselves and their family in an average year. We found that winning is the best way to get fans to open up their wallets.
While the average fan spends $168.74 on merchandise annually, fans of the last three World Series winners — the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Dodgers — all spend significantly more than that, over $300 each. In fact, both Braves ($453.26) and Nationals ($338.06) fans spend more than double the league-wide average.
On the flip side, Houston Astros fans spend the least on team merchandise at just $102.39. That may be related to the team’s recent sign-stealing scandal, which has tarnished the reputation of the team with fans across the league. Astros fans are joined by supporters of three other teams — the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox — in spending at least $60 less than the national average on team merchandise every year.
How to save at the ballpark
With the lockout over and Major League Baseball finally set to return, here are a few tips on how to maximize your savings while supporting your favorite team:
- Buy tickets and more online and earn rewards. Using one of the best credit cards for online shopping can help you earn the most points on everyday purchases as well as things like team gear and game tickets.
- Turn credit card rewards into tickets and more. Some credit cards feature rewards programs that give bonus rewards when buying sports tickets, while others give users exclusive access to events and experiences. Using one of the best rewards credit cards can help fans maximize their time in the stands.
- Earn cash back when you shop for team merchandise. By pairing one of the best cashback credit cards with a cashback app like Rakuten or Ibotta, baseball fans can keep more money in their wallet while stocking up on team gear.
FinanceBuzz surveyed 1,287 MLB fans, including a minimum of 25 fans of each team in the league, from February 17-28, 2022. Respondents were asked to outline their spending and fandom habits during a typical MLB season, such as those prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockout.