Monday, June 23, 2008

Sports Fans of the Year 2000 (1967)

The August 20, 1967 Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA) ran a piece titled, "Hard Times Facing Joe Fan," about the overcrowding of sports stadiums that was sure to come with exponential population growth.

My favorite quote of the article comes from the only source, real estate developer Joseph Timan: "With unprecedented leisure time on their hands, millions of sports fans will want to patronize more than one team."

The cartoon at right, reading, "Bleachers $8," appeared in the July 30, 1967 Lima News (Lima, OH) publication of the article. Adjusted for inflation $8 in 1967 is a little over $50 in 2008 currency.
NEW YORK (NEA) - It is the year 2000 and you want a ticket to a baseball or a basketball game. You figure it will be just like today, walk up to the box office, push your money over the counter and buy a reserved seat for $2.50.

Forget it.

This opinion comes from one Joseph Timan, city planner and president of Horizon Land Corp., a real estate development company in Tucson, Ariz.

Timan made his prediction following a Horizon-sponsored sociological study of future planning problems in metropolitan areas.

The study revealed that city populations are expected to double and triple by the year 2000. This means there will be two to four times more sports fans in the next 30-40 years. Stadium capacity will remain relatively the same.

"Stadiums could be built to seat 150,000" TIman says, "but watching a sporting event in a structure this size would be like watching a flea circus from a block away.

"Besides, the crushing chaos of getting this much humanity in and out of such a facility makes management of today's World Series crowds a simple routine by comparison."

Because of the increased number of fans and the lack of space, tickets, Timan says, will be sold months and in some instances, seasons in advance.

"Even third baseball and football leagues won't meet the demands for tickets," Timan said. "With unprecedented leisure time on their hands, millions of sports fans will want to patronize more than one team."

To obtain a ticket, the average fan is going to need influence as well as affluence.

"Diamonds, mink and champagne, instead of shirtsleeves and beer, will be commonplace in the bleacher section at ball games," Timan continued.

"These sports will no longer be for the masses. The box seats, upper stands and bleachers will be filled up with junior and senior executives - and mostly senior at that. The rest of us will have to be content to see sports over television.

"Prices for a bleacher seat that goes for $2 today will sell for $8 because of the great demand and limited supply. Box seats, for those lucky enough to get them, will bring $20 or more."

Far fetched?

"Not at all," Timan said, "It's a simple matter to extrapolate from history and project into the future. Consider these facts:

"In the past 30 years the number of fans attending major sporting events have more than tripled while population has increased about 50 per cent.

"Consider salaries of sports greats of 30-40 years ago. Today they're easily four or five time bigger. By 2000 they can be expected to quadruple again.

"Now, larger stadiums are being built, but they are very close to maximum possible size for viewing team sports.

"Thirty years ago bleacher seats were going to 50 cents while they are generally four times this amount today.

"Tickets to many major league football and hockey games are already almost impossible to obtain, unless you have 'pull.' Today just try to get a ticket to a hockey game; a big Saturday college game, or a baseball game when the team is on top.

"Multiply these factors by a doubled or triple urban population by the year 2000, a population with many more upper-income people with more leisure time; couple this with the physical limitations of stadiums, and you can't escape the conclusion that soon there won't be enough stadium seats to go around."

It sounds like something out of a Walter O'Malley dream.

See also:
Mile Run in 3:41 by Year 2000 (1965)
Lunar High Jump (1979)
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)
Olympic Games on the Moon in 2020 (1979)
Zero-Gravity Football (1981)
Future Without Football (Daily Review, 1976)
"Grasshopper" Golf Cart (1961)


Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, the leisurely society full of all those rich people the cities overbuilt for, with nothing to do but go see sports -- products of an "economy of abundance" that was mostly petro-illusion. Nobody thought about the contradiction inherent in having a limited resource base and an unlimited population. Nobody imagined the 24/7 work world, either, though the article seems to have had a clue that spectator sports would become primarily corporate perks for execs and their guests.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but they were predicting $8 bleacher seat *in year 2000 dollars*. So, their guess at priceing was still wildly off from reality.

Aaron T. said...

It went without saying that due to inflation, the actual number of dollars that things would cost would rise from 1967 to 2000. I don't think they were taking inflation into account with their estimates, because then they wouldn't be as meaningful to 1967 readers.

Anonymous said...

For baseball tickets in Boston, this article is pretty much spot on. I believe the absolute worst nosebleed seats possible are around $20, anything else goes upwards from there. That's of course assuming you can obtain the odd available seat through the box office, as just about every game is officially sold out through about 2010; if you want seats for any games earlier than that you'll have to pay twice that much to agents, aka professional scalpers. I guess we less well off fans become victims of our home team's own success.

I remember a few years back seeing a game in Pittsburgh, and was amazed at how inexpensive everything was. Even the hot dogs didn't cost $8 each. For $20 more than I paid I bet they would have let me park on the 3rd base line.

Dystopian said...

The local stadium pretty much begs people to come and see a game.
Unless that "pull" includes all those fifth graders that get free Reds tickets.

James Hanley said...

""Not at all," Timan said, "It's a simple matter to extrapolate from history and project into the future."

Ha, ha, ha! Oh, the naivete of linear projections is just so delightful.

Great site!