Cheap Seats

What has suddenly made spring training so pricey?

I'm not sure what the deal is. But spring training is proving to be outrageously expensive this year.

Since Roger Dean Stadium is so small compared to a regular season ballpark, I usually search for spring training tickets at secondary market sites. By the time spring season ticket holders are accommodated, all that's left are seats far down the line in the outfield or in the bleachers.  In the past I have been able to get tickets in the first few rows behind home plate for not much more than face value.

But this year, for reasons that aren't immediately apparent to me, tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals' spring home are going for two to three times what they usually do.

For one game, tickets were going for well over $100 to sit in the lower section. It wasn't much of a bargain to move up to the second level where they were in the low $90 range. What gives?

Also more outrageous than usual this year: Hotel prices.

It's never cheap to find a decent hotel in Palm Beach County. But the price of the Cardinals' team hotel in Palm Beach Gardens triples its room rates during spring training as compared to what they are a month earlier. They used to offer special discount deals to Redbird rooters. But they've hiked prices more than $100 a night over the past few years.

Roger Dean Stadium, until last year, offered free parking in a garage across the street from the ballpark. Now they charge for it. Last year the final touches were being put on a fancy hotel next to the stadium. You can stay within steps of the field. But it ain't cheap.

I suppose, like everything else to do with Major League Baseball, spring training is becoming big business.

When the Cardinals were still in St. Petersburgh, we used to be able to find a cheap hotel in the Tampa Bay area and buy tickets at the box office. They cost less than $10 in most cases and we'd jump from ballpark to ballpark, watching the Cardinals play the Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates, Reds, Royals, Red Sox and Yankees.

Is the inflation of going to a ballgame that doesn't even count going crazy? Or am I just getting old?