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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NICE PITCH, SCHLESINGER

As if we don't already pay enough for a simple day with the family at Miller Park, now that day will cost you more. At the start of this year's season, according to a story published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today, prices for many food and beverage items will increase. Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' executive vice president for business operations cited fuel and transportation costs as one of the primary factors in the decision to raise prices on any baseball fans' must-haves like beer and brats. According to Schlesinger this is simply a "reality...that prices have gone up on the wholesale level."

Excuse me? Wholesale prices have gone up? Transportation and fuel costs? These are indeed factors in today's economy, but not so in the case of already seriously overpriced items.

According to the article a beer will cost a staggering $6.50. A brat will set you back another $4.25. Even a simple hot dog is $3. Putting that into perspective, you can buy a 6-pack of some Miller products in your local grocery store for less than the cost of one beer at the ballpark. A package of Johnsonville Brats will retail on average for about $10 for a 3 lb. party pack. A package of even high-end hots dogs can be had in the store for less than $2.

The point here is simply that when you think of the prices of these items in the store in terms of retail value, plus factor in the fact that these are individually marked and packaged for individual sale, the cost of producing these items is more than the cost of producing the bulk packaged items sold by wholesalers to places like Miller Park and eventually to you, ole faithful baseball fan.

I have no idea what the profit margin is on food and beverage items at the ballpark. The paper didn't report it, and I'd rather not speculate.

Mr. Schlesinger, if you want to raise prices, that's fine. Milk us for all you can. After all, we all know it's still a matter of charging a price that the market is willing to bear. That's simply good business. If people willingly rush in droves to the concessions to dole out their hard-earned cash for an ice cold beer and a ballpark brat, fine. Nobody can argue with that. But let's be reasonable here. Let's call it for what it is. It's not transportation and fuel costs. And it can't be wholesale costs. It has to be simply a desire by ballpark bigwigs to get a higher return on their investment and to sell Milwaukee baseball fans a line to justify it.

All I can say to that is nice pitch, Mr. Schlesinger. Sadly, I think there'll be a lot of fans out there who'll think you're rationale for raising prices is a home run.

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