Cheap Seats

The price of being a Cardinals fan goes up.

The forecast may say that we're on the verge of a winter storm. But today is the first real day of the 2014 baseball season.

Why? Because it's the day that the St. Louis Cardinals announced their ticket prices -- and that season ticket invoices are on their way. I guess they have to start the ball rolling for the fast-approaching season. But sending out the bills just before Christmas and setting the due date just a couple of weeks after it seems a little bit on the grinchy side to me.

I guess, on the bright side, the Redbirds offered some cheer in the form of the fact that my ticket prices won't increase a crippling amount. I was so happy due to that fact I haven't even complained about my cost going up while theirs has gone down in the form of a lower payroll.

Last year the players made a combined $116.7 million. This year the Cardinals have committed $90.8 million to players thanks to the influx of young, cheap talent on the roster. When arbitration cases are settled, they'll probably be in for less than $105 million. That would be the club's lowest payroll since 2010 even though MLB clubs saw their television revenue go up for next season by more than $23 million.

That's got to look good on the bottom line.

I don't expect that the Cardinals are going to do much to spend that money over the next couple of months. But I hope that, while this season's payroll is artificially low, that the Redbirds will continue to give their fans a good return for their investment.

I'm grateful to have been to three World Series in the past eight years and to watch great talents like Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday play. But there's a small sweet spot between putting a great team on the field year after year and having a pricing structure that blue collar fans can afford to pay.