Since it’s inception, baseball purists and progressives have debated the merits of interleague play. Despite a strong and vocal group of naysayers, the consensus is that interleague has successfully built the sports’ visibility and driven gate receipts.
A closer look at pricing data from the 14th campaign, however, suggests that interest in interleague is lacking. Of the 14 series starting Friday, only three are driving a price premium—which means they’re selling above the home teams season average. Those series are the Cardinals @ Royals (+13%), the Mets @ Yankees (+12%) and the As @ Giants (+8). Every other series is selling for less than the home teams’ regular season average, including the Rangers @ Phillies (-19%), the Indians @ Reds (-30%) as well as the WhiteSox @ Dodgers (-40%). In a season where overall MLB attendance is down almost 2%, it’s no great shock that you can get into any Astros-Blue Jays games for less than you’ll pay for a beer and a dog.
Notwithstanding the above, it would be natural to think that the Cubs @ RedSox would be a different story. The Cubs have not played at Fenway since the 1918 World Series. Since then a lot has happened, from Goats to the Babe to Buckner and Bartman. Despite the rich historical context, Sox fans are paying 5% less than the season average of $149. Certainly, if Red Sox Nation were still living under the curse of the Bambino, the price picture would be a very different. Rather than a shrug of indifference, Bostonian would be clamoring for one the 37,456 chances to witness an exorcism 93 years in the making. As it is, though, the Red Sox have two World Series comfortably tucked away, the Cubs are 17-23, and we're still in May.
As for MLB, Interleague play is here to stay. Nonetheless, the first round of this years games demonstrates that for a generation of fans who are too young to remember anything but interleague, it takes more than novelty to drive real demand for seats.
For tickets to all Interleague matchups, click here.