"To me, the most astonishing and amazing thing is that despite how bad the economy and job market is, students and fans come out to these games to cheer on their beloved teams," Chan says. "For those 40 minutes, everyone is fixated on the sport, maybe as a distraction from all the outside negativity, or maybe it is all the excitement that the team brings."
What she represents is a variant of the "lipstick effect," the spending phenomenon after 9/11, and it's one reason stadiums continue to draw crowds despite a sullen economy. Following the terrorist attacks, consumers cut back on purchases of luxury goods but increased spending on smaller indulgences. They bought fewer designer shoes, for instance, but stocked up on expensive lipstick. Now, according to Richard Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum, an educational institution in Boston, people are cutting back on exotic vacations and instead taking more "staycations" – including trips to the local ballpark and hockey arena.
Even these relatively cheap alternatives for family getaways are still costly, though: The Team Marketing Report, a sports research firm, found that the average cost for a family outing to a Major League Baseball game last season (which includes four tickets, parking, and the inevitable hot dogs and hats) was $196.89. In New England, the cost of being a fan is even higher: At Fenway Park, those accouterments totaled $326.45. The only place more expensive to catch a game is the new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium, where family fun consumed $410.88.