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Do Higher Ticket Prices Mean Better Seats?

Published Jul 11, 2011 / by Keith Hanson

We had a tweet earlier from Deven Nongbri @dnongbri commenting that it might be harder to move nose-bleed seats with a transparent seat rating site like What we think the site will do is make it harder to move bad nose-bleed seats and easier to move good nose-bleed seats -- and the same for every section in every stadium. One user mentioned how he or she never sat in the upper deck at AT&T Park in San Fran. But for a playoff game they were forced to, and it was surprisingly pleasant. The tweet got us thinking though. From the data we collected so far, are more expensive tickets getting higher ratings?

The Analysis

We selected all seat ratings where the game type was regular season and where the face value or price paid was given. We then broke it down for each of the four major sports and simply built a scatter plot of Value (as rated by fans) vs. Cost.

The Results

As a whole, overall value ratings increased as the price increased. We can simply conclude that as you pay more, you get better seats. DUH! Fortunately, the by-sport breakdowns offer some deeper insight. For MLB tickets, the overall value intercept was around 4.0. Even for cheap tickets, fans are getting a good experience. NHL tickets offered a high overall value starting point as well - and solid returns for each $20 spent. NBA tickets offered similar returns as the NHL - which makes sense because many venues are home to both sports - but at a much lower starting point. NHL tickets are inherently getting better ratings. In the NFL, you really have to spend money to get good seats. With fewer games, larger stadiums (more variable pricing), this again seems to make sense. According to our data, you have to spend about $190 for football tickets to get on par with $20 baseball tickets!

Overall, this confirms the old adage, "you get what you pay for". Though for some sports, you get a little bit more. Get at us on Twitter @rateyourseats to discuss.