Sports

Will the MLB lockout affect fans’ spending habits?


According to a poll, fans will be spending less money on baseball thanks to the lockout.

According to a poll, fans will be spending less money on baseball thanks to the lockout.
Image: Getty Images

With Opening Day slated for April 7, Major League Baseball fans are giddy with excitement to see their favorite players take the field once again. However, that doesn’t mean fans have forgotten about the lockout that threatened the cancellation of much of the 2022 season. Fans were left in limbo for over three months as the players and owners squabbled over financial disputes. It left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. According to a survey conducted by FinanceBuzz of over 1200 MLB fans covering all 30 teams, most MLB teams should expect a drastic drop in revenue for 2022.

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Per the survey, approximately 62.5 percent of fans primarily blame the MLB owners for the lockout, compared to just 4.5 percent of fans placing the blame on the players. What’s the best way to get back at the owners for creating so much unnecessary stress? Don’t put money in their pockets. Forty-three percent of the fans surveyed claimed they would be spending less money on their favorite teams this season. While that may not seem like a huge number, and is probably inflated by the fans’ recency bias when answering the survey, it’s a staggering number when compared to the amount of fans who actually plan on spending more — just two percent.

While most of the money made by Major League ball clubs comes from television deals, ticket and merchandise sales are no small part of a team’s total revenue. Here is a list of every team where at least 20 percent of fans surveyed said they’d be willing to spend more on their favorite team in 2022:

  • Atlanta Braves (20 percent)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (22.58 percent)
  • San Francisco Giants (24 percent)

That’s all of them.

Now, here’s a list of every team where at least 40 percent of fans surveyed said they will be spending less dough than usual on their favorite team this season:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (68 percent)
  • Cincinnati Reds (42.55 percent)
  • Colorado Rockies (40.74 percent)
  • Los Angeles Angels (48.39 percent)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (43.76 percent)
  • New York Yankees (44.3 percent)
  • Oakland Athletics (56.41 percent)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (41.93 percent)
  • San Diego Padres (41.94 percent)
  • San Francisco Giants (52 percent)
  • Seattle Mariners (42.1 percent)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (40 percent)
  • Washington Nationals (44.44 percent)

That’s twice as many fans on more than four times as many teams. What’s even worse is that while these figures likely won’t have a major effect on the big-market teams, rather the small-market teams that don’t produce as much money from their television contracts. That being said, the league did institute two new television rights deals this year. According to Craig Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, each team will receive at least $60 million in TV revenue through 2028, plus whatever their local TV contract comes out to be.

While that should theoretically mean small-market teams will spend more, we haven’t seen any indication of that actually being the case since the end of the lockout. Plus, if fan revenue decreases drastically, as the numbers from the survey indicate, even with more money coming in from national television contracts, there will be less opportunity for small-market teams to compete.

Competitive balance has long been an issue in Major League Baseball. While the players absolutely deserve every dime of their contracts, and it’s up to the owners to pay more to get better players, this survey indicates that, at least in 2022, balance across Major League Baseball could hit an all-time low, and that’s going to leave several fanbases frustrated before we even reach the halfway point of the season.

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