One of the gripes that one always hears from F1 fans is that the tickets are too expensive and that the prices should be reduced. The argument is based on the idea that 200,000 people paying half the price of a crowd of 100,000 equals the same result. This is not strictly true as there are many additional costs created by having larger crowds.
However, the key point in such discussions is whether or not there is a limit to the number of tickets on offer. Most races sell all their race day tickets and thus the price is set by supply and demand. More people want to go to Monaco than want to watch races in Bahrain. The aim of every promoter is to make as much money as possible and so it is important to find the right price point at which the stands are filled with people who were willing to pay what was requested. The fact that ticket prices are high shows that the sport is popular.
When you take a look at what it costs to go to other world class events one has to say that F1’s prices often seem quite reasonable. The reason I mention this is that this evening I am off to the Stade de France in Paris to watch the Rolling Stones in concert. There were 75,000 tickets available for this event and they were all sold within 51 minutes of going on sale. That is impressive marketing power, particularly when you are doing 30 gigs a year. The face value of the tickets we have is about the same kind of cost that one might expect to pay for general access at a Grand Prix and we could have spent a great deal more if we had wanted to be closer to the stage. Unfortunately we were not among the lucky folk to get tickets in those 51 minutes and so we have had to pay the market price. It took a deep breath but it is one of those things that one HAS to do. Bernie Ecclestone always used to say that Formula 1 was like the Bolshoi Ballet and that you have to pay to see quality and he has a point (although tickets to the Bolshoi are not THAT expensive because the number of ballet lovers does not seem to match the number of F1 fans).
Curious about ticket prices, I went on the Web to look at ticket prices for the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, on the same day as the British GP, and found that I could secure one for $8,200. I also looked at the World Cup Final in Brazil and was curious to see that I could get a ticket for between $5,500 and $13,500, not including transportation costs and hotels and so on. The price varies according to the number of seats available for a big event so, for example, a Super Bowl ticket for around $800 is to be expected if one buys directly from the NFL, but the secondary market will bump the price up considerably.
And it is not just sports. If you want to go to the New Year’s Day concert in the Musikverein in Vienna, you have to put your name down for a lottery each year (a year ahead of the next concert) and you must be prepared to pay $1,275 if you want a decent seat. If your number does not come up then the only option is to buy the tickets on the secondary market and the prices multiply accordingly.
So, in the overall scheme of things, F1 tickets are not that expensive. People with normal real world salaries need to save up to be able to afford them but they are not numbers from outer space as is seen in some other events.