How big a role do ticket prices play in your choice of entertainment options?

Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis has announced that it will stop charging for admission to its shows. Potential patrons had identified ticket prices as a barrier. Today’s Question: How big a role do ticket prices play in your choice of entertainment options?

  • Scott Strehlow

    Huge. Especially the fees that have doubled the price of a couple tickets I wanted to buy. And in both cases, the fees were not disclosed until several screens of personal information were submitted.

    The most frustrating was the “convenience fee” of several dollars each to allow me to use my own paper and ink to print tickets at home.

  • Duane

    It is the Principle role in my decision, as a result, my wife and I choose not to take part in many events. I feel the cost of a product or the entertainment should be based on VALUE ADDED. I see little value added spending $50 or more money to watch an event that last just a couple hours in a venue where the crowd noise, seating and visibility is fair at best. It may be age, but I feel there is better choices for my dollar.

  • Martin

    Fees baby!

    It’s as if the GOP has taken over the process and are killing us with taxes, oops I mean fees… ; ^)

  • Steve

    I haven’t yet been to a game at Target Field because I can’t afford season tickets and don’t want to pay twice (or more) the face value of a single game ticket. Price is everything. But free is maybe too far the other way. I’m always a little suspicious of “free”. Somehow it carries a connotation of inferior quality.

  • Chris

    The number one reason I do not attend more events IS the cost of tickets. No matter what the event when the cost of a ticket goes over $20 per person it just is to expensive & if it is a family event forget it, my budget just can’t absorb the cost. We recently looked into Cirque du Soleil but when the bad tickets are $35 for three people that adds up, and then there is the cost of parking on top of that. Forget it if we actually wanted to buy something there like a CD the budget is busted.

    Most concerts are so expensive we don’t even check the cost anymore because we know we can’t afford them.

    If the cost of concerts & events were more reasonable our family would definitely attend more. I also wonder what the true cost of huge ticket prices are. So, for how many people that just can’t afford the tickets so they stayed home. They didn’t go to the nearby restraunt, no one went to the bar, and no parking fee was paid so even if the venue did not make money the city would have lost money as well.

  • Garth

    Rock on Wayne!!

  • Wayne

    Well said Garth!!!!

  • uptownZombie

    I’ll gladly pay for a good ticket (35$, 50$, 70$), but I will not buy via a ticket service that charges fees per ticket. I prefer to buy them directly from a ticket counter, at least I think I know where my money is going then.

    The recent choice of First Ave to sell tickets for certain concerts only through eTix has made me rethink my stance on that venue, and where my money is better spent. I have not been to a First Ave event recently because of this, nor do I plan to.

    Once a ticket goes past the 70$ range though I tend to really ask myself if I want this, and if the price is worth the memory. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

  • Tracy

    Ticket prices play a big part in our entertainment choices. As a family of 5, prices add up quickly. I wanted to take my children to see Annie at the Children’s Theatre but it will be close to $200 for the four of us (our youngest is 9 months and won’t be attending). So we found an alternative at Stages Theatre in Hopkins, which also has Annie and we will go on “pay what you can” night.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Most of my favorite entertainment options don’t require tickets. There are no fees required to have a conversation with friends, watch a sunset, take a walk, sing a song, read a book, tell a joke, write a poem, and laugh at plutocrats, who have no power over me because I don’t share their anxiety about money.

  • Jim B.

    Ticket prices are definitely an important factor for me. Most people buy tickets in pairs (or more) and even at $20 that can add up fast. I try to see as much theater as I can, but I tend to stay away from places like the Guthrie where tickets are more expensive and instead attend smaller theaters which often put on just as good of a show. I applaud Mixed Blood in this bold move and hope that more arts organizations will follow their lead.

  • Ticket prices play a huge part in my choice of entertainment! When I want to go see a show at a theatre I look at the ticket prices first, if the shows to expensive I wont go even if its a magnificent Broadway show that I’ve been dieing to see. I love the theatre and I love going to movies, but when the price doesn’t fit my budget I’m just not going to go.

    I understand that theatres need to make money, and as worker at a college theatre and volunteer for a theatre, I know it takes a lot of money to run a show. It just seems that at times they charge a little more than the middle class or broke college student can afford.

  • Russ

    Ticket prices play an important role in my entertainment choices. A concert for a musician ticket prices are almost impossible, sporting events, I haven’t paid for a twins ticket or a Vikings ticket in over ten years. Why spend $50+ for one ticket and then get overcharged on concessions, $6 for a hotdog! Even movie prices are getting ridiculous pay $10 for a movie ticket and arrive at the “start” time to have to sit through 10-15 minutes of commercials before the actual movie starts (which is pimping x number of products to us). So ticket prices play an overwhelming role in deciding my entertainment options, too expensive and I don’t go.

  • Jenn

    Price is probably the biggest factor for me (with location/parking being #2) like others have said, for my family to attend a show is a lot of money, or if just my husband and I go, we are usually paying a sitter. So if we do go to something, it has to be something we really really want to see and we are unlikely to take a chance on something new – and that is true across the board from concerts, to shows, to movies. Recently I wanted to see a solo artist playing at the Orpheum. Tickets are $70 (which is about as high as I will go) but the fees make them $95!

    I wonder if free is too far though- how will Mixed Blood make up that revenue?

  • Philip

    Huge! I refuse to pay for television, so no cable/satellite/dish. Also, as much as we like a Wild game, unless we get free tickets, it’s not going to happen (same with the Twins). We recently went through and thoroughly redid our budget and I was amazed at the percentage we still spend on entertainment. If a worthy goal is about 30% of your spendable income, then it’s worth writing down everything you spend for a month. Regarding entertainment, you have to be sure to write down every time you eat out, go to the coffee shop, rent a movie, or spend on a hobby, etc. The list is endless and it will surprise you.

  • Dum Dum Alouwishes

    I cannot remember a time when the Event or Talent superseded my mindset on the price of the ticket.

    For me, price is nearly everything.

  • Sue de Nim

    This may backfire for Mixed Blood. Psychological experiments have shown that people tend to value things more if they have to work at them or pay for them, regardless of any objective measure of quality. E.g., for exactly the same wine, people will rate it higher if they think it’s more expensive, lower if they think it’s cheap. People are funny that way.

  • Barb

    Fees more than ticket prices have deterred me from attending events. Just paid $50 for $32 ticket. If excellent seats hadn’t been available, I would have changed mind about buying. I’m glad that some venues are using less expensive services (ex TicketFly). I don’t live in the Twin Cities, so buying direct at the box office is rarely an option.

    I like that some places are doing “pay what you can” nights to give people more flexibility.

    (Side note: check out what’s happening at your nearest college & university theatres. You’ll be amazed what you can see for a modest ticket price.)

  • Denise Orson

    Ticket prices play a huge role in our choice of entertainment. Most venues are just too expensive so we end up going to a discount movie for our entertainment.

  • James

    I bought a lifetime ticket to the best show on earth.

    It was not cheap but it will keep on giving for many lifetimes.

    It is called a canoe.

    I do not need someone else to entertain me.

    The question asked is very cityish.


  • Chris

    It’s a big deal. In today’s economy entertainment has to take a back seat to other financial obligations. Maximizing entertainment bang-for-my-buck is crucial to financial stability.

  • Kathy

    The priority of attending live theatre and live concerts is a huge quality of life issue for my husband and me. Film and TV are second-tier cultural entertainment. Live performances can be life-changing. People need to choose carefully but be willing to pay for the incredible commitment and talent that’s required to produce quality, live cultural events. We’re willing to have our checkbook lighter so that our lives are not poorer.

  • Rene

    I would go to theater a few times a week if I could afford it – we often choose university/college productions because they are usually great and affordable.

    As a young adult, I ushered in order to see shows without paying for tickets. Now with children, I feel as if they aren’t getting the theater education I would wish for them because it is so expensive. Long live organizations like Goldstar who offer reduced price tickets.

  • Neil

    I have a decent suggestion for fellow bloggers who worry excessively about ticket prices, service fees and the cost of concessions.

    Along with having an annual or monthly “entertainment budget” (that you never exceed) have a personal “entertainment cost per hour limit” and only exceed it by exception.

    Let’s say your limit is $15/hour.

    Most concerts probably exceed your personal limit, so you should only go to concerts by exception….for instance for a really special act.

    Movies tend to slip in way under $15/hour, even with concessions, which explains why so many people still go to movies.

    Vikings games can slip in under the limit…as long as you pre-game or post-game for few hours to spread the cost over more hours, and split the cost of parking with friends.

    Plays often are a problem. Broadway type plays are way over $15/hour and you tend to have to pay to “pre-play” or “post-play” at a restaurant or bar. Only go to really special plays!

    Eating out can work, at reasonably priced restaurants, but can easily go way over $15/hour at a decent restauratn, so you should only eat out by exception.

    Drinking out is often well under $15/hour and therefore still very popular.

    The Twins have a problem. Tickets are spendy. Food is spendy. Not much opportunity to pre-game or post-game. Which is why attenndance will fall way off if the Twins really aren’t competitive.

    Vacations can work, but you have to be careful. $15/hour works out to $240/day (for a 16 hour day.) The Boundary Waters works easily; alpine skiing is trickier.

    Hunting and fishing would appear to be way under $15/hour, but often the accounting is done badly. Don’t forget to charge 50 cents/mile for the drive and don’t forget to amortize the cost of the rod/gun/boat over the few hours you really use it.

    Canoeing, bicycling, nordic skiing and TV watching, even after amortizing the cost of equipment, are way under $15/hour

    Anyways, my recommndation is to have a personal “entertainment cost per hour limit,” apply it to all forms of entertainment, only exceed it by exception and stop worrying about little irritants like service fees and the cost of concessions.


  • CF

    Price of tickets has no affect on my entertainment choices because I don’t need to be entertained. Movies are crap these days and TV is best suited for a waste water treatment plant. I wouldn’t want go to the theater, opera, concert or a sporting event if I was given the tickets for free.

  • Greg

    Eveything. Too many times the promise of the entertainment value never materializes. If all entertainment was a pay as you leave experience – we’d have a much better sense of value for “stars” and celebrities.

  • Greg


    you make entertainment about as exciting as computing one’s personal body fat content before deciding to eat a meal or not. If it takes that much thought ….. just cut way back. which is what I have done.

  • I applaud Mixed Blood for this bold step. They are a fabulous theater and continue their ‘doing right from the far left’ mission with this change.

    I would be hindered by price from some theaters, but ticket prices can be reasonable depending on what a person’s priorities and values. When prices start exceeding $25/hour (so $50 for a 2 hour play), I start considering if I want to see it.

    Congratulations, Mixed Blood!

  • Elizabeth T

    Tickets …? Yes, I consider the price, but it pales in comparison to the price of the babysitter. Neil suggests a $15/hr. Seriously? That only leaves me with $7/hr for 2 people to do something, becuase our sitter charges about $7-8/hr.

    For example:

    Movies @ Riverview $3 x 2 = $6

    sitter for 3 hr. $7 x 3 = $21

    I bought tickets to U2 (yes, a special deal for a special reason, so willing to pay more than usual) – the ticket for the sitter is going to equal the price of the tickets for us, and that’s with a cheap ticket.

  • Bee

    These days, ticket price makes a huge difference to me. I love Minneapolis because it allows me to enjoy both the outdoors AND the arts– but I have passed up many plays and music shows as part of Recession 2011. Kudos to Mixed Blood and the SPCO for finding ways to keep high-quality arts accessible to working people. It helps us get through these challenging times.

  • AEM

    I have a different perspective, as a Board member of a performing arts organization that struggles mightily to both pay its artists fair compensation AND keep ticket prices affordable.

    I am concerned about this move by Mixed Blood (though I’m sure they have the best intentions) for a number of reasons. If their goal is simply to grow their audience, it might work, at least in the short run. But they may have boxed themselves into a corner; once you’ve given something away, it’s very hard to start charging for it. If their goal is to increase access for those with low incomes, surely that could be achieved short of making all tickets free. The theater could make all performances “pay-what-you can”. By giving away ll their tickets, they are subsidizing many theater-goers who are willing and able to pay.

    This move also makes life harder for the rest of us, who will now have to explain to our patrons why we can’t give away all our tickets. The message many will get is that charging for ticket is a choice, not a necessity, and those organizations that do are making money hand over fist. It could give fuel to the fire of those who oppose state funding for the arts by creating the impression that theaters are now so flush with cash (on the taxpayer dime) that they don’t have to sell tickets any more.

    I also agree that people tend not to value that which they get for free.

    It’s already difficult for organizations to get the face value of their tickets due to the proliferation of discounts in the Twin Cities market, which exert considerable downward pressure on ticket prices. Reality is that it’s a buyer’s market for tickets right now, and anyone who monitors Groupon, LivingSocial, newspaper websites, online calendars, etc. can find good deals on many Twin Cities events.

    Finally, it’s important to remember that artists are working people, too. Most hold down day jobs as well as spending long hours working on their craft. Giving their work away devalues it. Tickets to nonprofit arts events (for-profit concerts and other mega-events are another story) are usually relatively inexpensive—a person could go to live theater at most venues in town for the cost of a martini and a couple of plates of appetizers. To a certain extent, it’s about priorities.

  • Elizabeth T

    I didn’t mean to imply that Neil’s recommendation was poor w/ my comment about babysitting. I think it’s a good way of assessing the cost of an item. Afterall, I tend to buy groceries based upon the unit price.

    I wanted to make a point I hadn’t noticed from others, which is the babysitter as an underlying cost, along w/ things people usually consider, like parking. It’s a problem most (all?) of my friends bemoan, who are also parents. Obviously, it’s also a factor others don’t need to consider, although I know one family who took care of a disabled parent – where the “sitter” cost was to take care of a parent, not a child. Still expensive.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Well intended, poorly executed on the part of Mixed Blood. Non-profits have known for years that users of a service get more out of the experience if they make some type of a contribution/ have some skin in the game. Much better for all concerned to do a sliding scale based on desire/ability to pay.

  • Kevin VC

    I know with movie theater tickets going up it has made my trips to ANY movie maybe once every 6 months if its good, where as I use to go once a couple weeks maybe.

    And they say its the pop and pop corn where the money is made, if so then why not NOT charge?

    (Honestly I do know why, because the movie ticket price pays for the ‘movie’ rental and is a metric in measuring a movie success….. And its TOO bad….)

    Theater Theater I have rarely gone to, partly because most are in the cities…. And mostly because I don’t know where they are … and what they are playing…. or much else…..

    Getting word out better would help them, which mean money…. and when money is the enemy…. you step into the ‘Catch-22’ Effect…..

    (Which by the way is a great movie)

  • Molly

    Ticket prices are the major reason I go to live events one or two times a year. My entertainment budget is primarily for renting movies. I eat out a few times a month, mostly that’s social. Going to plays or concerts is always something I do alone as my friends cannot afford to attend. Live performances are a rare treat.

  • Steve

    Yes ticket prices are an issue but it is all the other costs that make the total price of an event go over the top.

    What value do you get at a live concert when the freak next you has to sing along out of tune at a volume that hurts your ears…… I want to hear the the act….. so a DVD is better than live.

    As for Movies, I go to very few at the movie theater. it had to be a very special movie to get me to go. When I do I go, I go to the early show to save money or I don’t go. If it is only $6 at one time… it is not worth $8-10 at a different time.

    For a lot of movies a group of us waits for them to go to DVD/BlueRay and then they have to be on sale. We buy a copy and either watch it together or loan the disk around. With 40″ to 50+” HD TVs… it is more fun to watch at home, you can pause, backup and watch again. Also travel time 15-30 minutes one way just burns time I/we could be doing something else. Plus add cost of food and drink…..

    As for a live concerts… most current performers are not as good live as they are after “autotune” is used to make them sound good.

    Also for movies, concerts, theater… Add parking, food and $4.00/gal gas to just get there… and a back yard grill and movie on the HDTV looks way too good.

    As you state Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis has announced that it will stop charging for admission to its shows.

    Now if I was able to get a show I wanted to see via the web or disk for a few bucks I might be even be more open to seeing it and paying for it. But really there is no free when you have $4/gallon gas, parking, high cost food and drink at a cost above the free ticket.

    Got to say it comes back to downtown parking and the crime level downtown along with the cost of food and drink. The burbs have free parking but when a bottle of water costs $4-5 and popcorn $5-10 Just got to say… WTF.



  • Steve

    A lot. Most major touring acts charge $75 or more for a seat. For two with charges, parking etc… it means $200 for an hour and a half concert. Just not worth it. Support local music instead and go to places like the Cedar Cultural Center. Very inexpensive, great acts come through.

    For sports – a Twins game here and there but no others. Movies – no way will I pay $20 and sit through commericials and ear-splitting volumes.

    It seems that prices don’t deter many.

  • DNA

    If it’s free and I have the time, energy and interest I’ll go. I like movie theaters like the Riverview where I can watch a 2.00 movie and have a little cash for popcorn as well.