It's about time: White Sox, Dodgers slash spring training ticket prices

In other White Sox ticket price news, it's time for the annual report that everybody just can't wait to read ...

SPRING TRAINING TICKET PRICES!
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

But wait! The "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" is genuine this time, because unlike the other ticket price-shifting, there are actual reductions worth celebrating.

While single-game spring tickets won't go on sale until Jan. 6, Camelback Ranch has already posted the 2012 prices, as it's promoting a holiday sale from Dec. 9-12. And on its face, economic realities have apparently won the day.

I've stacked up the 2012 prices to those from the previous two seasons (with "prime" game prices in parentheses), and there are some pretty significant takeaways:

Seat location 2010 2011 2012
Home plate box $42 ($47) $42 ($47) $39 ($44)
Dugout field box $32 ($37) $37 ($42) $34 ($39)
Premium infield box
$28 ($32) $28 ($33) n/a
Legends deck n/a n/a $28 ($33)
Infield box $26 ($30) $24 ($29) $23 ($28)
Baseline field box $26 ($30) $28 ($33) $19 ($24)
Baseline reserved $20 ($22) $15 ($20) $10 ($15)
Lawn seating $10 ($12) $8 ($13) $8 ($13)

*A milestone in price sanity: The White Sox and Dodgers have ceased trying to force $40 as an acceptable standard price for a glorified minor-league game. That's a victory for fans, even though...

*But still some work to do: ... the Sox (and Dodgers) were the only teams who charged more than $30 for their best standard tickets last season, and it's likely they'll continue to charge way more at the top than everybody else. However, when the other Cactus League teams release their 2012 prices, we'll have a better idea where they truly stand.

*Watch out for prime games: Given what we saw with the Pick 14 plan, I'm guessing they've expanded the definition of prime games in order to recoup some of the money. We'll see.

*Elimination of the most BS seat category: The former "premium infield box" was tiered pricing run amok, since it comprised just the first five rows of the "infield box." Those seats are now just plain ol' "infield box" seats.

*Legitimate economical options: Even at $15, the Sox and Dodgers charged the most for the lowest tier of seats (non-berm/lawn) in the Cactus League. At $10, though, they could very well have the cheapest cheap seats around.

*A 32-percent reduction down the lines: Which means there may be far fewer opportunities for photos like this:

S110306_13wall-pg-horizontal_jpg_medium

These are all pretty big one-year steps. I understand that it may not affect a ton of White Sox fans, but it's still interesting from a business perspective. When Jerry Reinsdorf decided to hook up with Frank McCourt for the construction of Camelback Ranch, they had dreams of changing the model of spring training, transforming the premise of the preseason from "baseball for cheap" to "baseball resort getaway."

Then the recession hit. And then the attendance fell short of projections. Repeatedly. And then development in Glendale ground to a halt, leaving the Sox and Dodgers "sort of sitting out here by ourselves." And then the Diamondbacks and Rockies built the first-classier Salt River Fields, located on the more popular side of Phoenix, and unlike the Sox and Dodgers, they didn't use it to charge exorbitant prices. And all the while, McCourt showed that he probably wasn't the best person to go into business with. Now, McCourt will be selling the Dodgers, which will make Reinsdorf even lonelier.

The move to Camelback Ranch has taken one bad turn after another, but I don't know enough about the finances of the $100 million facility to say whether the migration to Glendale is a flop (relative to the area - I'm guessing they still prefer it to Tucson).

However, I think we can say their vision of a more luxurious spring training has failed, not just because they had their own underperformance problems, but because no other Cactus League team even attempted to follow their lead. That's a big relief, because if they were able to suddenly and dramatically inflate the common price points for games that don't count, it's scary to think what might happen to the games that do.

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