Reds' season doesn't merit price hike

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds have become the latest big league team to freeze ticket prices for next season, pinning the decision on the team's poor play rather than the bad economy.

The Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates recently announced they'd hold prices for 2009. Washington and San Francisco will cut the cost of some seats.

At the general managers' meetings last month, commissioner Bud Selig told clubs to be sensitive to the nation's tough economic conditions. But the Reds cited another reason -- their performance. The team went 74-88 -- the eighth straight losing season and 13th in a row without reaching the playoffs.

Reds chief executive Bob Castellini felt strongly that ticket costs shouldn't go up even one dollar given the way the team played, spokeswoman Karen Forgus said.

The last time the Reds held the line on prices was 2005. The Reds' average ticket price for 2008 was $19.41, according to an annual survey from the Team Marketing Report. The major league average was $25.43.

Forgus said the only exception to the price freeze will affect about 100 season-ticket holders with three- and six-year deals that are expiring. She said they'll be paying 5 to 10 percent more.

The Red Sox began selling out every game during the 2003 season, then raised ticket prices for 14 straight years. That string of increases ended with the recent announcement that there will be no change at Fenway Park in 2009.

"We did not contemplate a reduction," Sam Kennedy, Boston's executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer, said at the time. "We did contemplate an increase, but it's fair to say this is the right thing to do given the realities of the economy."

Boston's average ticket price of $48.80 on Opening Day in 2008 was the highest in the majors. Single-game tickets for 2009 go on sale next week and range from $12 to $125.

The World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies are among several teams raising prices for next year, with many tickets going up $2 or $3. The American League champion Tampa Bay Rays announced modest increases for select games.

The New York Yankees and Mets, both moving into new ballparks, figure to see significant increases. The best seats around home plate at the new Yankee Stadium will range from $500 to $2,500.