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Opinion: As the excitement for in-person live sports goes through the roof, so do ticket prices

Outrage over the prices of Toronto Raptors tickets opens a can of worms in the sports world
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Fans are discontent with the ticket prices for their favorite teams. DINA DONG/THE VARSITY
Fans are discontent with the ticket prices for their favorite teams. DINA DONG/THE VARSITY

Single-game ticket sales to watch the Toronto Raptors’ games went for sale on Friday, October 15, and it didn’t take long for social media outrage to follow. Raptors fans quickly took to Twitter to express their views on the crazy prices that they were witnessing — and, boy, did they have a lot to say. Reactions to the Toronto Raptors’ astronomical ticket prices ranged from “Release cheaper tickets!” to “Raptors learning from OVO with these prices. Tickets better come with a halftime show from Drake himself.” 

After doing some research, it’s evident that tickets for the Raptors are priced high for a variety of their games, but they are also normally priced for others. Want to see the Raptors go against Steph Curry and the Warriors? Tickets start at $193. Have time on a Friday night and decide to watch the Raptors play the Clippers? Better have $143 on you. However, if you want to see them play the Indiana Pacers, you can do so for as low as $18. To say that Raptors tickets are overpriced is a broad generalization — ticket prices for the Raptors range from high to low. 

Ticket prices differ depending on the players, teams, and sports under discussion. However, studies show that ticket prices in general have been inflating in the last century. Research on Major League Baseball (MLB) shows that average ticket prices in the league have risen by $10 in the last 15 years. What’s causing this increase? After endlessly scrolling through ticket prices for the major sports in North America, I’ve come up with a few main factors that dictate how expensive ticket prices are. 

Rivalries and historically great teams

An article from Investopedia states that most professional sports teams use “dynamic ticket pricing,” which can explain the broad increase in ticket prices that have been seen. Often used in the airline and hotel industry, dynamic ticket pricing makes sure that ticket prices are contingent on the situational factors that surround a specific sports season. 

This is why ticket prices to see the Toronto Maple Leafs go against the Montreal Canadiens start at $200. Because of the Leafs’ shameful loss to the Canadiens after their 3–1 lead in the 2020–2021 NHL playoffs, tickets are priced higher for this game, because it’s a “rematch” of sorts — the first time the teams will face each other since the playoffs.

Another reason why ticket prices may be higher is because some teams have a historic track record of being dominant in their respective leagues. This is why the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and Las Vegas Raiders lead the NFL in average ticket prices in 2020. These four teams are all also in the top seven NFL teams with the most Super Bowl wins. 

Resale tickets

Last but not the least, reselling can lead to a huge increase in ticket sales. This happens when the tickets have already been bought by fans, and are being resold at prices chosen at their discretion. According to the Ticketmaster website, as long as a fan has already bought tickets and has an account with Ticketmaster, that fan is allowed to resell the tickets at any price they want. This happens because often when there is a higher demand for certain tickets, there is a lower supply of them because most of them have already been bought. Metropolitan areas like Los Angeles are familiar with reselling, considering that for games between the Lakers and the Clippers, I could find tickets being resold this season for anywhere between $100 and $600. 

However, if you’re a Toronto-based sports fan that doesn’t have a hedge fund, all hope is not lost. Look for games that aren’t being played against famously great teams, buy your tickets early, and try to avoid games against rival teams. If you follow those steps, you might be able to watch your favorite teams live without putting a large dent in your wallet. And, of course, you can always break open the piggy bank once in a while for the really important games.