Friday, January 27, 2012

The $8 Beer vs. The Living Room Sports Bar

The Dunkin' Dutchman
Season tickets for professional sporting events, and some colleges, are expensive.  Parking passes cost big bucks.  Concessions need a home equity loan.  Despite all this, I love going to sporting events. To me, the game experience at the stadium or arena can't be topped.  The crowd, the closeness to the action, it's all intoxicating.  My first NBA game was the Bulls vs Pacers at Market Square Arena during the Bulls first three-peat.  There is no substitute for standing 15 feet from Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as they go through pre-game warmups.  There isn't a television big enough to accurately reflect Rik Smits' Dutch-ness.  Notre Dame Stadium, Dean Dome, Gator Bowl, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field - been to all of them and watching on my couch doesn't hold a candle to being there.  Apparently others disagree because attendance is waning and television sales keep rising.  If the mighty (and I use that term very sarcastically) Cameron Crazies can't fill their bleachers, something must be up.

Ah, Wrigley Field
Despite my love of the in game experience, I have 90 inches of television on my living room wall.  Many a weekend I also have two computers, two tablets, sometimes a third television and my smartphone fired up following action - can't do that from my seat at the arena.  Haven't counted, but I think I have close to 100 sports channels, ESPN3,, and Twitter when I'm at my house - at the game, all I have is Twitter, and that's only if I can get a signal.  Beer is cheaper at my house.  I can count on one hand the number of beers I have bought at sporting events in the last five years.  To me it's just not worth it.  For the price of one beer at a game I can buy a six-pack of the same beer at grocery store.  Chicken tenders don't cost $9 at my house.  I'm not a high-roller sitting in the club seats or private boxes, if I want to eat at the game it's peanuts, popcorn, or cracker jacks.  All of those delicacies are cheap when bought at the grocery, but are priced outrageously high at arenas and stadiums.

All of these factors have caused the casual fan to rethink where and how they are dolling out their time and money to the local sports teams.  For the price of one season ticket, parking pass, and a seasons worth concessions, the average fan can buy a new television and the NFL Sunday Ticket (or other sports package) and still have money left over for wings and beer every weekend - all of this without having to deal with traffic, drunk obnoxious fans, and bad weather.  Hard to imagine why anyone would want to go to a game anymore doesn't it?

The nine minute standing ovation after Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's hits record.  Notre Dame running out the tunnel with Touchdown Jesus in the background.  Michael Jordan hitting a fadeaway from the block.  Everyone has seen these on television and could find them on YouTube in thirty seconds, but the experience in-person cannot be matched.  It's special and unique; and a television, no matter how big it is or how many 'D's' it has, can't reproduce the feeling in the building when those moments happen.