Beer and Baseball
8:10 am
Wed October 3, 2012

$8 Beers Put Marlins Park In The Middle Of The Ballpark Pack

Ordering beer at a baseball game is as American as apple pie. So is forking over a small fortune for beer at a baseball game. Eight dollars for a Bud Light draft at Miami Marlins Park.

“It’s kind of weird,” says Shane Marinelli on his first visit to the new stadium. “I’m used to, like, $3 pitcher nights and like dollar beers and stuff. But I have no choice, you know, this is — this is expensive.”

Marinelli, a student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, works part time at a sporting goods store. An $8 dollar beer soaks up a nice sized swig of his paycheck.

“That’s an hour of work, on average,” he said. “It’s expensive, man.”

The most expensive, of any baseball stadium — at least according to a report by the financial news website The Street.

The $8 Bud Light at Marlins Park is the most expensive small domestic draft beer in all of baseball. But Miami’s “small” is actually 20 ounces. When you rank by cost per ounce (40 cents), Miami drops to 15th place.

Claude Delorme, the Marlins executive vice president for operations and events, explains the pricing: “We did not want to be the high and certainly did not want to be the low and we knew we’d be somewhere in between.”

It’s the Goldilocks of beer pricing.

The Marlins could be charging a lot more, Delorme says; customers in Miami have been trained to expect expensive drinks. At nightclubs, the markup on a bottle of vodka might be 4,000 percent — five times the 800 percent markup on Bud Light at Marlins Park.

“The pricing reflects basically the total cost of the operations, including our players,” Delorme says.

The executive editor of Team Marketing Report, which collects data on stadium prices, has a different explanation for the high cost of ballpark brews.

“Because they’ve got you there,” Jon Greenberg says. “It’s just like any amusement park, any zoo, any movie theater. You’re kind of a captive audience. Especially with beer. Nobody’s bringing beer in.”

Aside from a brief hiccup during the recession, Greenberg says, the trend in ballpark beer pricing is ever higher — especially when a new stadium opens.

“This is an opportunity to set new pricing,” he says. “You know if you’re going to set new pricing why would you go lower?”

At SunLife Stadium, the Marlins’ old home in Miami Gardens, beers were a dollar less.

Ounce for ounce, according to Team Marketing Report, the most expensive baseball beer in the country is in Boston, at 60 cents per ounce, and St. Louis, at 56 cents. That’s where Anheuser Busch is headquartered, and where the local paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has a beer reporter.

“When you go to Busch Stadium and you see the Clydesdales trot out at the beginning of the game and you see the Anheuser Busch and Budweiser ads everywhere; you definitely get a sense of place,” says Evan Benn, who also writes the newspaper’s “Hip Hops” blog.

Benn, a former reporter for The Miami Herald, says it’s a matter of pride to order beer at Busch Stadium. But the hefty price “might cause you to nurse it a little bit longer and make every last ounce count.”

If there’s anything more American than beer at a baseball game, it’s complaining about how expensive beer is at a baseball game.