New York The recession had a marked effect on baseball, with the increase in ticket prices slowing to its lowest level since the 1994-95 strike.
The average ticket price this season is $18.31, the Team Marketing Report said Friday in its annual survey, and 10 of the 30 clubs did not raise the price of season tickets.
The 3.8 percent increase was less than one-third of the 12.2 percent rise last year, but was still more than triple the 1.1 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index over the past year.
After the 1994-95 strike, ticket prices rose 1.2 percent. They increased 5.5 percent in 1996 and rose by 9 percent or more in each of the next four seasons.
Boston, sold last month for a record $660 million, has the highest average at $39.68, an increase of 13.8 percent. That is more than $15 more than the second-highest average, the Seattle Mariners at $24.60.
The Red Sox, who have had the top average price for five straight seasons, play in Fenway Park, the smallest ballpark in the major leagues with a capacity of about 34,000.
"We don't have an upper deck so the average price is skewed to a higher number," Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said. "San Diego, for example, has 15,000 seats that sell for $5. Their average is decreased because of those seats. We don't have that upper deck."
The New York Yankees were third at $24.26, followed by the Chicago Cubs at $24.05, the New York Mets ($22.53) and Cleveland ($22.33).
Montreal, sold by Jeffrey Loria to the other 29 major league teams for $120 million after the failed attempt by owners to eliminate the club, has the lowest average at $9 in U.S. dollars.
Minnesota, the other club targeted for contraction, had the second-lowest average at $11.78, just below Anaheim's $11.79. Kansas City was at $12.30 and Florida was at $12.72. The Marlins were bought by Loria from John Henry who was part of the group that purchased the Red Sox.
Boston's 13.8 percent increase was the highest in baseball, followed by the Cubs at 13.6 percent and San Diego at 10.6 percent.
Five teams have a lower average price this year than in 2001: Kansas City dropped 5.2 percent, Detroit 2.4 percent, Montreal 2.1 percent, Tampa Bay 1.9 percent and Atlanta 0.9 percent.
Baltimore, Cleveland, Colorado, the Chicago White Sox, Florida, the Mets, the Yankees, St. Louis and Texas did not change their average price.
The report made a change in its method of calculation by not including premium seats. The change caused last year's average to be recalculated at $17.64 instead of $18.86, and TMR recalculated all of 2001's averages.
In comparison, the average NFL ticket price was $53.64 last year. It's $50.10 in the NBA and $49.86 in the NHL. Those figures do include premium seats.