With no pro baseball team, some Calgarians are travelling to the States for their ballpark fix

The weather is warming, the snow is melting, but most importantly, spring training is under way. Baseball will be back before we know it, with opening day less than a month away.

In Calgary the excitement might feel a little distant since we have no baseball team that calls our city home.

The Vipers, a single-A independent club, was the last pro team in Calgary and they disbanded in 2011. Before that, the Cannons, a AAA affiliate of various MLB clubs, left in 2002 to its new home in Albuquerque.

No pro team to cheer for in Calgary has left the city’s baseball fans to pledge their allegiance to MLB teams spread through the USA and the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Lots of hardcore ball fans will often make the trek down to Toronto or one of the other 29 cities that house a MLB squad to take in a game or two to satisfy their craving for quality, live baseball.

But which city is the best bang for your buck? Where can you go to watch a MLB game but also not return home to an empty bank account and not have to eat Kraft Dinner for a calendar year to recover from the debt left by a great, but expensive trip?Five of the most historic ballparks in Major League Baseball offer a range of prices for every fan’s budget.

Graphic by A.J. Mike Smith

Matt Chevalier is one of many Calgarians who make a yearly trek down to the United States to take in some live MLB action. And value is certainly important to him.

“I like to go take in at least one series a year live. Obviously cost is a big factor, especially seeing as I’m still paying off student loans and don’t have too much disposable income. Getting the time off of work is also imperative. That being said, if I am going to go, I definitely want to do it right. I always want to make the trip worth it,” says Chevalier.

But it’s not just purely cost that affects his decision-making when planning a baseball trip.

“Teams, as well as players and ballparks, play a big factor in my decision-making. I wouldn’t be deterred by having to pay a little more at the ballpark. Seeing the Jays is at, or near, the top of my priority list every year, so I do my best to go to Seattle and take in a few Jays games every summer at Safeco,” says Chevalier.

But is there anything else that goes into booking a trip like this, or is it purely baseball and that’s it?

Chevalier believes that the “extra-curriculars” are definitely considered, but comes right back to the baseball factors that weigh in to the decision.

“There is certainly more to it than simply baseball, however those extra-curriculars have to coincide with the games. In addition to the home team and home ballpark, the opposing team and players weigh heavily on my decision. I want to be able to go somewhere where I can arrive at the park early, sit in the sun, drink an overpriced beer or two, and watch batting practice,” says Chevalier.

Chevalier has already booked a trip for this coming season. He is going down to San Diego in April to watch the hometown Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Calgary will still be entering summer-mode at that time, so weather was a big factor for him to go on this trip, along with some gameday promotions.

“Additional things like being able to go to a warmer climate in the Spring, as well as ballpark promo nights, can all add that extra little bit of utility and incentive needed to help push me over the edge, and pull the trigger on booking a trip,” says Chevalier.

But what about the fan who is impartial to the teams, players and destinations, and just wants to get to a ballpark and get their live baseball fix. The Calgary Journal did some research, and came up with the pure numbers.

The teams were evaluated based on cheapest ticket to get you in the door to their ballpark, airfare to the city from YYC, and the average price point of three-star hotels per night in the city the team plays in. The trip setting was based on mid-July hotel and airfares, and based on one-night stays.

Out of all 30 teams in the league, the Arizona Diamondbacks are the team that provides the most frugal option.

The Diamondbacks total price comes in at an even $500. That gets you a ticket, flights and a hotel to stay in. Food and a couple cold ones at the game would be added to the total cost of the trip.

The most expensive option is the Boston Red Sox, coming in at a whopping $896, $396 more than Arizona. That’s a lot of ballpark beef franks.

The league average comes in at $676.23, making it cheaper to catch a game in the USA than hitting Toronto to see the Jays. Toronto comes in at $719.

For Chevalier, though, nothing beats actually being at the ballpark to take in the game he loves.

“Going to a game and experiencing the sun on my face is something I don’t get sitting on my couch at home. Perhaps it brings about nostalgia and longing for those summer days of my youth when I was still playing, I’m not sure. It is hard to describe, but there is just something about being at the ballpark. Whatever it is that MLB is selling, I’m certainly buying.”

See a list of the costs for the 30 teams here 

Photo courtesy of slgkgc/Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed.