PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Just because Major League Baseball is one of the cheapest tickets in professional sports doesn't mean its teams won't occasionally try to dig deeper into fans pockets.
Still one of the best values in the land overall, Major League Baseball skates by on a low average ticket price and friendly recent history. Baseball hasn't had a strike since its World Series-canceling work stoppage in 1994 through 1995 and hasn't locked out players since 1990.
The National Basketball Association (which locked out players in 1995, 1996, 1998-19 and 2011) and the National Football League (which locked out players in 2011 and referees in 2012) can't say the same. The National Hockey League has lost more than 2,300 games to lockouts and strikes in the past 20 years. Baseball fans, meanwhile, have been rewarded with ticket prices that average $27.93, according to Team Marketing Report.
That's a little more than half the price of an average NBA ticket ($52.50), slightly less than half the cost of a ticket to an NHL game ($61.82) and well below the price you'd spend on any given Sunday in the NFL ($81.54). That doesn't mean MLB is an all-around discount, but it's still a great deal for folks outside of its larger markets. It is, however, 2% higher after a season in which overall attendance and television ratings dropped.
In a league that's increased revenue from $1.4 billion in 1995 to more than $8 billion last season, though, there are some markets being treated a little more gingerly than others. The Houston Astros set a Major League Baseball record for revenue last year by slashing salaries to the bone during their first year in the American League and taking in more than $100 million. What did fans get out of the deal? A team that put up 51 wins and 111 losses and trailed the next-worst team -- the Miami Marlins -- by 11 games. Looking worse than a franchise that straight-up jacked Miami for $634 million in public funds before clearing out all the high-priced talent and leaving the city with the worst team in the National League East is one incredible feat, but Houston was up to task.
Of course there's more than one way to fleece the faithful. Fielding terrible teams and extorting stadium financing for personal enrichment is a little too brash for most teams. Instead, there are some squads that would rather bleed fans a few pennies at a time. While Marlins Park is easily the biggest ripoff foisted onto a fanbase and local taxpayers in recent MLB history, we've consulted with the folks at Team Marketing Report and found five of the biggest ripoffs fans face at the ballpark each day. When fans stand up to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame in these buildings, they should watch their wallets while doing so: