I am a big baseball fan, and I enjoy going to a couple games every season. There is a Major League Baseball team about an hour an a half away, but there is a minor league team only 20 minutes away. I go to the minor league games a lot more often than the MLB games for several reasons.
Cost: The average ticket at the minor league games is under $10. Parking costs me $5, a hot dog is $3, a beer is $5, and I can get other souvenirs at reasonable prices. In 2007, the average MLB ticket price is $22.69. Parking generally costs $10 or more, hot dogs around $5, and a beer is $7-8.
Location: There are only 30 MLB teams. If you do not live within reasonable driving distance to one of these 30 teams, you have to do some serious planning to go to a ballgame. There are currently almost 250 minor league teams. That makes it a lot easier to find a location closer to home. For me, a 20 minute drive and no traffic is much nicer than 1.5 hours (excluding traffic).
Up close and personal: The seats at the last game my wife and I went to were 10 rows from the dugout. The face value was $12.50. At most MLB stadiums, those same seats would have been well over $50. We were close enough to see everything, hear the players and umpires, and actually see how close the plays actually were. Even the worst seats in the minor league ballparks are good seats. The worst seats at an MLB ballpark require binoculars.
Great fun: Minor league parks are well known for having loads of family entertainment in between every inning of play. Many forms of entertainment involve giving away prizes including t-shirts, tickets to future games, food, gift certificates, etc. One of my favorites is the free car wash. Someone from the team finds the dirtiest car in the lot and calls out the license plate number. The ‘winner’ gets a free car wash!
Foul Balls: The likelihood of catching a foul ball is small. There aren’t very many hits into the stands at every game. But being in a minor league park with fewer fans and being closer to the action increases everyone’s chances. Almost every minor league park gives the opportunity to walk away from the game with a souvenir ball – either a home run or foul ball. You can walk into most MLB stadiums, look at your seats, and quickly tell yourself, “There is no possible way I am walking out of this place with a ball unless I pay for it!” Of course, there are easier ways to get baseballs.
However, there are drawbacks. You can’t see Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Jr. or any of the most famous players. On the flip side, you get to see the young guys play their hearts out. These guys have talent and some of them will be stars. The vast majority though will not make it to the Majors, but, they are living every kid’s dream of getting paid to play baseball.
I love going to the ballpark. If you enjoy it too, I highly recommend going to a minor league game. I promise you won’t be disappointed.