Boston Sports Fans Are Back In The Stands — And Paying A Ton For Tickets

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Bruins fans walk up the stairs toward the entrance of TD Garden. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Bruins fans entered TD Garden before a game on March 25. With capacity restricted, ticket prices are soaring. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

After being shut out of sports arenas for a year, Boston sports fans are shelling out huge sums to watch the Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics play in person.

Pent-up demand and limited supply are driving ticket prices to record highs, even with capacity limits at Fenway Park and TD Garden set to double Monday to 25%.

Average resale prices for the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins are in the $350 range this season — about $200 more than when fans were last allowed through the turnstiles prior to the pandemic, according to TicketIQ, a firm that monitors prices.

"The secondary market average list prices for each team are easily their highest since we began tracking data in 2010," said TicketIQ Vice President Greg Cohen.

(Source TicketIQ)
(Source TicketIQ)

Face-value tickets can be hard to find because teams offered season ticketholders many of the seats that became available in late March, when state officials lifted a ban on fans in the stands and set the initial attendance cap at 12%.

While it is possible to get a bargain at the box office — try a weeknight in the nosebleed section — marked-up tickets on resale marketplaces like StubHub and SeatGeek are sometimes the only option.

The demand for tickets could also be fueled by the local teams' success, said Cohen of TicketIQ. Both the Bruins and Celtics are bound for the playoffs. And though it's early in the baseball season, the Sox have topped their division.

"Despite the increase in attendance limits" that takes effect Monday, Cohen said, "the average prices for the teams haven't gone down."

Another factor is that some fans can afford to pay exorbitant prices because they spent so little on sports tickets, eating out, and other kinds of entertainment during the past year, said Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross. While the pandemic has exacted a financial toll on many households, others cut expenses while following public health guidelines and are flush with cash.

"Savings rates went way up over the last year, as people ran out of things to spend money on while still having a secure job earning the money," Matheson said. "So, people are sitting on a lot of disposable income."

This segment aired on May 10, 2021.


Headshot of Callum Borchers

Callum Borchers Reporter
Callum covered the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.



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