Take Us Back to the Ball Game: The Laws and Policy of Professional Sports Ticket Prices

The prices of professional sports tickets have skyrocketed in recent years, depriving many fans of the time-honored tradition of taking their families out to a ball game. This Article argues that legal reform and political action are appropriate responses to these soaring prices.

First, the Article rebuts the threshold objection that economics alone justify current ticket prices. Professional sports teams reap a windfall from the public through corporate welfare, special-interest legislation, and favorable antitrust and tax laws. This preferential legal treatment undercuts the argument that teams are simply charging, or should charge, what the market will bear. In addition, teams cannot blame ticket prices on high player salaries, because the market for tickets is economically distinct from the market for players.

Next, the Article evaluates four possible legal or political responses to ticket prices: regulating professional sports leagues, eliminating their preferential legal treatment, taking individual teams through eminent domain, and encouraging local team ownership. It concludes that fans will be best able to keep tickets affordable by encouraging local governments, which have spent billions of dollars on stadium construction, to consider buying teams of their own.