A game for which fans gave their right arm!


Field of Dreams ticket prices Image: Ballpark Digest & MLB

Fans paid through their nose to taste a scoop of nostalgia.

Baseball celebrated the myth of its rural roots when the Major League Baseball (MLB) team New York Yankees took on their peer team the Chicago White Sox on August 12th in a game adjacent to the field in rural Dyersville, Iowa (US), population 4,000, where the historic 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams’ was filmed. The game was won by the White Sox 9-8.

The ‘CNN Business’ stated that fans paid record amounts to attend the game, with most who bought tickets on the secondary market spending more than $1,400 to attend.

The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of the Bronx. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League East division.

The Chicago White Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League Central division.

The prices are by far the highest average price ever for a regular season game, and have only been topped by a handful of World Series games, such as Game 4 of the 2016 World Series between two championship-starved teams as the Cleveland Indians met the Chicago Cubs at the latter’s home – the 41,649-capacity Wrigley Field in Chicago. The average ticket price on the resale market that night was a record $3,500 on StubHub and $4,200 according to its rival SeatGeek.

StubHub informed that the average for the MLB ‘Field of Dreams’ game on its site was $1,400, while SeatGeek says the average price of tickets sold on its site was $1,557.

The ‘CNN Business’ further stated that tickets have a face value of either $375 or $425, and were sold to fans in Iowa and White Sox season ticket holders who won lotteries for the right to buy about 8,000 seats at the temporary stadium in Dyersville, Iowa.

An 8,000-seat ballpark hosted the game, which featured a corn maze outside the park in the shape of MLB’s logo.

Maintained Chris Layden, spokesperson for SeatGeek, “There are several factors, including the tight supply of tickets available on the resale market. And every seat is about the same. There’s no nosebleed seat. Sometimes you’ll see the average price be really high but you can still pay a third of that and get in the door for a cheap seat. But that was not the case this time.”

The game was originally planned to be played last year but was canceled because of the shortened, sans fans baseball season due to COVID-19 which struck the most deadly blow to the United States.

The two teams involved also added to the demand. The White Sox, whose home is a four-hour drive away from Dyersville, were in first place at this time of the season for the first time since 2012. And their opponent Yankees are one of the best-drawing road teams in baseball year-in and year-out.

Stated Adam Budelli, Head of Partnerships and Business Development, StubHub, “This has a whole life of its own. Adding in the fact that it was two marquee teams, it was a perfect storm for this event.”

Ticket prices soar in general

But, it is not just the above game which fetched very high ticket prices and higher demand for tickets. Attendance comparisons to 2019 are difficult because, for much of the season, there has been a restriction on how many seats most stadiums could sell because of coronavirus.

But, as is the case with so many items seeing large price increases this year, limited supply and pent-up demand translated into higher resale prices.

SeatGeek says the average price of baseball tickets sold on its site this year has been $81, up 40 percent from the $58 average in 2019, the last time fans were allowed to attend regular season games. StubHub’s figures show a 33 percent increase for baseball tickets.

Budelli added that fans are hungry for live events in all the sports, as well as for attending concerts and other events – “People want to get out there, whether its baseball, concerts, or other live events, they’re ready to go back with friends and family.”

Celebrating baseball

The site of the movie has attracted a regular but modest stream of fans since the film came out. Attendance is normally free, as fans can play catch or sit in the small wooden bleachers on the original field. The August 12th game was played on a different field nearby. Given its remote location, the field often has only a handful of fans visiting at any one time, except when buses arrive.

The sky-high prices are a stunning contrast to the prices discussed in the movie.

The film, based on W. P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel ‘Shoeless Joe’, is a mythical tale of a farmer, Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, who builds a baseball field on his farm. A voice he alone hears tells him -“If you build it, he will come.” He decides the voice is referring to the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, a White Sox great from a century ago who was banned for life from the game when his teammates threw the 1919 World Series. And once he builds the field the ghost of Jackson and other players do arrive to play baseball on the field.

When Costner’s character is at risk of losing the farm because of the lost crops he’s not growing, his friend and daughter convince him that fans will pay to visit and gain peace from communing with baseball.

“People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past,” predicts his friend played by James Earl Jones. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: For it is money they have and peace they lack.”

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