1) Why do teams want new baseball stadiums? To make it more expensive for fans to go to baseball games. Team Marketing Report has released its annual index of average ticket prices, and has found the average price of a ticket at Target Field is 45-percent more than the average price at the Metrodome. That's the largest increase in Major League Baseball, according to the report.
After leaving the cavernous Metrodome, the Twins' average jumped 45 percent from $21.70 to $31.47, while their FCI went up 21.8 percent to $206.88. (If you would like to see how other teams increased prices in the first year of a new stadium, sign up for TMR archives at teammarketing.com) The Twins' payroll has jumped as well, as they now have the 10th highest at $97.56 million. Last year they were 24th at $65.3 million.
The FCI is the Fan Cost Index, which calculates the cost to take a family of four to a single game. Still to be determined is to what extent -- if any -- has made baseball unaffordable for some fans.
By the way, the most expensive game is in Boston where a family of four pays $334.78. The average annual income for a four-person household in Massachusetts is $85,420, according to the Census Bureau. Minnesota's is $77,395. A game in Boston requires .39% of a family's yearly income. A game in Minnesota requires .26% of a family's yearly income.
Meanwhile, Forbes has calculated that the value of the Twins grew in the last year faster than any other team in baseball except for the Florida Marlins. But the local squad is still only ranked 16th in all of baseball for team value, according to Forbes. Three years ago, they ranked 25th. Last year they were 22nd.
2) Following up on yesterday morning's discussion on Morning Edition about the "swipe fees" paid by merchants to the Mastercards and Visas of the world.
A merchant from Buffalo, Minnesota writes:
You were quite dismissive of the 1 - 2% fees merchants pay. Please know that for large merchants the fee averages 2% and for smaller merchants the fees can be 3 to 4 %. and rising.
Gas stations operate in a the world of small margins and in some competitive markets Visa makes more on a gallon of gas than the merchant.
In my store swipe fees are equal to health insurance fees. Stop and consider the dollar amounts and compare what Visa delivers vs what Blue Cross delivers. Swipe fees make the health insurance companies look like Saints when compared with the banks. This is why merchants are angry.
Dismissive? No. But what I questioned was
weather whether the situation for some merchants rises to a level of a compelling public interest that will lead to congressional action or whether there'd be a grassroots response to the (primarily) SuperAmerica/Speedway posters at the gas pump. It contends the price is passed along to customers. But will customers respond to a situation that applies only about 5-cents a gallon to the price of gas. Perhaps at one time, but 5 cents isn't enough to make people change behavior, or get involved. And if the price is passed along to customers, as the posters claim, then the harm to merchants is minimized unless the real issue, then, is mom-and-pop's ability to compete against chain stations. And if that's the issue, then the problem isn't really swipe fees, it's about whether it's the role of Congress to get involved in a business problem of that sort. Is it?
3) The Republican governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia would like to reinstate Confederate History Month. A black Republican, writing a commentary for NPR, isn't happy about the message her party is sending.
On most days, I'm proud to be associated with the conservative movement and have no problem with the Republican label. I'm proud to champion issues like school choice, tax relief, defense of the unborn and defense of marriage.
But on days like this -- when my Republican governor issues a proclamation that in essence celebrates the Confederacy -- I not only find myself out of place at the party, I also find myself violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment against speaking ill of the party.
Are we having a war on history in this country? Writing in the New York Times today, Gail Collins says it's been a tough time for people who take social studies seriously:
History took a hit in Texas, where the state Board of Education tried to demote Thomas Jefferson, presumably because of his enthusiasm for separation of church and state. This week, John McCain rewrote his own political biography, telling Newsweek: "I never considered myself a maverick." And on the geography front, Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia took time during a recent Congressional hearing to express his concern that stationing additional Marines on Guam would make the island "so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize."
4) University of Minnesota research suggests that money can ease your pain.
(Kathleen) Vohs's findings carry numerous implications, especially in the business world. For example, if a flight is delayed for eight hours, an airline might typically give its snarly, malcontent passengers a voucher toward a future flight. Vohs suggests throwing a different bone.
"My research would say that they would feel better--they would feel less pain--if they were handed cold, hard cash as opposed to ... a voucher," she says.
Could the thought of money even help in a medical setting? Vohs thinks that's a possibility. "I've recently given several talks in front of medical audiences and that is an idea," she says. "To assuage the pain in a medical circumstance, you may want to give [patients] reminders of cash, because it might psychologically be beneficial and then they wouldn't feel quite so much pain.
5) Perhaps you've heard. Tiger Woods returns to golf today. I dare you to get this song out of your head.
Meanwhile, Nike has unveiled a new Tiger commercial. Good or bad?
Bonus: Ten signs the Apple iPad has made you the most annoying person ever. Actually, just one will do the trick.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks to drop wolves from the endangered species list and return management to state authorities, who could allow a hunt in five years. Have wolves been protected long enough?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: When writer Jonathan Rauch's elderly father became incapable of taking care of himself, he found himself in a situation familiar to many other middle-aged Americans--the decline of a parent. He argues the cultural infrastructure of elder care in America is all but non-existent.
Second hour: The Food and Drug Administration's decision to approve the expanded use of the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor is being hailed by some cardiologists, but critics say they're concerned about promoting medications for healthy people.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: President Barack Obama is in Prague today, signing a landmark nuclear treaty with Russia. Brian Atwood, dean of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, discusses the significance of Obama's trip.
Second hour: Nick Hayes, professor of history at Saint John's University, talks about his new memoir, "And One Fine Morning: Memories of My Father."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Life after foster care. Young people in foster care are often moved from home to home sometimes for years. And for most foster kids, the day they age out of the system, they're on their own.
University of Minnesota researchers released a study this week, by the way, showing foster care helps children catch up to their "non-institutionalized peers."
Second hour: Reading between the lines on the U.S.'s nuclear posture. The Obama administration has pledged the United States will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates says all options are on the table if states don't play by the rules.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Tom Petters gets sentenced this morning for his role in creating a Ponzi scheme to relieve people of their money. MPR's Martin Moylan is covering the event.
An art exhibition in Fargo features the drawing gym, artwork created by people working out. A San Francisco artist spent several weeks capturing physical movements on paper and video. He calls it kinesthetic art. MPR's Dan Gunderson will have the story.
From NPR: Since Katrina, TV and film crews have been portraying the recovery of New
Orleans. But now, there's a chance for some residents to be cast as themselves. A new TV drama series, Treme, draws from the lives of New Orleaneans rebuilding after the hurricane.
You might've missed it because I posted it on a Saturday, but here's a tour of the lower 9th Ward I did in January.
Speaking of New Orleans, Stephen John had a fascinating interview on the subject of mental health recovery in New Orleans. Cecile Tebo, who leads the New Orleans police department's mental health "SWAT" team in post-Katrina New Orleans, says the city's mental health crisis is far from over.
(Follow News Cut on Twitter)
I find it interesting that the merchants are only harping on the bad side of credit card transaction fees, without acknowledging the benefits. I see at least two:
First, I, along with many other people, will simply not shop at places that accept only cash. I do not carry cash. I use my credit cards for everything. If you won't take my credit card, you haven't lost a few percent of the sale in transaction fees. You've lost 100% of the sale because I'm not buying.
Second, studies consistently show that people are willing to spend more when purchasing with a credit card than when purchasing with cash. When you hand over a card, it's psychologically less "expensive" than handing over cash (which is also why casinos use chips instead of cash). If accepting credit cards means that the average customer spends 10 or 20% more with a credit card than they would if they were paying cash, that more than makes up for the swipe fees.
weather = whether?
"Can the average fan afford Target Field?"
Wrong question, I think. A more relevant question is whether enough fans can afford it to fill the place. When demand equals supply, the price is right.
I was in the 9th ward yesterday. One of the things my friend giving us the tour was very surprised and excited about was that there was a school in session. For so long, there just weren't enough kids in the whole area to justify a school. Just a small sign of progress that means a lot to the residents of New Orleans.
John has it right about ticket pricing. There are only so many seats in the stadium, so if the seats are selling out (which I'd imagine they will at least for the first season of Target Field), then lower prices just replaces "who can afford the ticket price?" with "Who can afford the scalper's price" or "Who can afford to spend the time to camp out for tickets?"
Also, I'm impressed on how many different ticket levels there are at Target field (18 different sections priced from $11-$77). It makes it easier to determine which seats/sections are "worth it" to you.
"Can the average fan afford Target Field?"
Could it be that player contracts with 9 digits to the left of the decimal point are excessive? Maybe our society will decide they can't afford to go to the games at the prices required to pay a player that kind of money. You know, the kind of money that would allow a player to pay cash for all of the homes in some communities. Maybe the fans will stay home. I'm not holding my breath though.
I think affording a Target Field ticket depends on how many bobble heads are offered...
I started using my debit/credit cards at gas stations (er, "filling stations" -- I use diesel...) when I first ran into places where I was required to pre-pay for fuel. I can't guess how full or empty my fuel tank is, so I don't pre-pay.
Some places charge a few cents less if you pay with cash at the counter rather than use a credit card. I think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but it's a relatively unusual practice. I'm not sure what people would think of a "swipe surcharge" at other stores, but it might happen.
The economies of filling stations have never really made sense to me. The profit tends to come from the convenience store rather than the fuel pump, but I hardly ever go inside now that I use my credit card all the time. I'm sure lots of stations have gotten rid of at least one employee now that people pay at the pump so often, which is both good and bad. A person is a very expensive item for a small business.