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You gotta pay to see greatness: Why it costs so much more to see some California sports teams than others

Sports fans in California are a lucky bunch.

With 15 teams in four major metro areas, tens of millions of people have access to watch top-quality baseball, basketball, football and hockey live.

But depending on the sport — and even sometimes the team — those tickets could cost you a pretty penny, according to resale data provided by StubHub.

Team Average price of admission
MLB 2022 season
Los Angeles Angels $52
Los Angeles Dodgers $90
Oakland Athletics $60
San Diego Padres $83
San Francisco Giants $78
NBA 2021-22 season
Golden State Warriors $284
Los Angeles Clippers $98
Los Angeles Lakers $247
Sacramento Kings $74
NFL 2021-22 season
Los Angeles Chargers $263
Los Angeles Rams $275
San Francisco 49ers $189
NHL 2021-22 season
Anaheim Ducks $76
Los Angeles Kings $77
San Jose Sharks $66
information courtesy of StubHub

Want to see a baseball game? You’re likely to pay less than $100 per ticket.

Thinking about football, or maybe seeing the Lakers or Warriors in action? Well, those prices can be more than five times what it costs to see Shohei Ohtani take the mound or hit one out of Angel Stadium.

There are several reasons those prices can stretch toward $300, said StubHub spokesperson Adam Budelli.

“Right off the bat, you have to think of recent team success,” Budelli said. “You’re fairly fortunate if you’re a California sports fan, there’s been success across all four sports.”

No surprise, then, that the Dodgers (2020 World Series champions) and Giants (the 2010, 2012 and 2014 champs) are among the most expensive baseball tickets.

Another factor? New stadiums.

“People love to go see a new venue. Chase Center (the Warriors’ new San Francisco home) is only about three years old. At Sofi Stadium (in Inglewood), prices are inherently going to be higher,” Budelli pointed out.

Alternatively, sometimes a historic venue — or at least the site of some historic performances — can increase ticket prices.

For instance, the Lakers have only played at Crypto.com Arena (formerly the Staples Center) since 1999.

However, the Lakers’ success with stars like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James has an effect, which might explain how Lakers tickets are about two-and-a-half times more than Clippers tickets, even though they share the same arena.

“It’s an iconic venue and there’s so much history of the Lakers there, the fans want to go see the Lakers play there too,” Budelli said.

And it’s not just native Californians looking to get into those stadiums. Visitors and even state residents who grew up somewhere else buy tickets too, Budelli said, increasing demand on a limited number of seats.

As an example, Budelli highlighted attendance at the past couple of NBA Finals. Last year, the fans in Milwaukee and Phoenix were dominated by supporters of the home teams.

“There’s probably a larger Boston presence at the home Warriors games of this finals than you would’ve seen a Phoenix presence in Milwaukee last year,” Budelli said before the Warriors completed their championship run.

With all that in mind, the question for many fans is how to get the best live-sports experience for their dollar. Budelli said timing is key, though it’s important to avoid potential scammers.

“If you are fortunate to have specific areas of arenas and teams you like, it’s always better to move sooner than later on those tickets. When you think about the buying experience, at StubHub, we say know before you go, and you never want to buy off the street. You need to protect yourself as the consumer,” he said.

Another tip? Sitting separately or going solo can open up some great possibilities.

“We love to get into a game with extended friends and family, but a lot of times, the best bargain is looking for a solo ticket by yourself,” he advised.

Sports fans can also hunt amid long homestands for sports like baseball, where “there are deals to be had,” but shoppers should expect demand to be high, Budelli advised.

“Overall, I think it’s important to note that with the pandemic still top of mind, everything we’ve seen on our side shows fans are excited and they’re excited to go back to live events with friends and family,” he added.

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