The Cost of Watching Professional Sport in the US | Remitly

The Cheap Seats: The Cheapest and Most Expensive States to Watch Live Sport In

Sport is as much a part of the fabric of American society as apple pie with an estimated 159 million people in the US watching live sports at least once a month [1] and 70 percent of Americans saying that they are sports fans [2]. Whether it’s the entertainment and recreation it provides, the appreciation of the skill and athleticism of the athletes, or the suspense and excitement that comes with the unpredictability of the result, sport has had us hooked for centuries.
Team sports also unite fans from all over the world, rooting together around a shared passion, and creating bonds between families, friends and loved ones who are near and far. As you head to your team’s home stadium week after week, you’ll often see the same faces, and share the highs and lows that occur season-by-season with a community of locals and visitors alike. Our customers move from all over the world and often seek to establish roots in a new place. For many, finding a sense of connection is a top priority when leaving the comforts of home behind, and sports are a meaningful way to get involved, build connections, and foster a sense of community.
To discover which US towns, cities and states offer the cheapest and most expensive tickets to watch sport played at its absolute peak, we analyzed ticket prices for 141 men’s professional sports teams in the US, across five different sports – American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer.
States have been ranked accordingly across sports and we’ve also taken a deeper look at each individual sport so if you’re a sports fanatic and are thinking of moving to the US, and want to find out how much you’ll be likely to fork out per game, read on to find out where the cheapest seats for sports truly exist.
Average ticket prices per sport and state
American football is comfortably America’s favorite sport and that is reflected in the fact that it has the highest average ticket prices of any of the sports we analyzed. Our analysis revealed that $297 for a single game ticket is what you can expect to pay across the 32 professional teams in the American football league. To watch a live basketball match averages $165, ice hockey $146 and soccer $105. The cheapest of the five sports we analyzed was baseball, known affectionately as ‘America’s favorite pastime’, where the average price for a single game ticket across the 29 US teams in the baseball league is $79.
To work out the average cost per state, we focused our study solely on the price of single game tickets per sport. With almost every team using dynamic pricing (where ticket prices change regularly based on demand), our analysis has provided a snapshot in time. We started by calculating the mean average cost of available home tickets per team and sport, and then worked out the average for each state by calculating the mean average of all teams based in that state. Professional sports teams are not distributed evenly across the US, with there being 18 in California alone! So, to make our data as meaningful as possible, we discounted any state which didn’t have at least three teams from at least three of the five sports we analyzed in this study.
With five teams across five sports, and most of them being based in the capital Boston, it’s Massachusetts that has the highest average ticket price for sports lovers, at an eye-watering $236. Containing some of the most iconic teams in American sports history, ticket prices in Massachusetts match its high-quality sporting heritage.
When you think of sports teams in the US, the chances are you’ll recall a legendary team from New York, however the Empire State has nine professional teams across the five sports. An average ticket price to watch sports in New York falls just shy of $200, making it the second most expensive state in the US to watch men’s football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer.
For the cheapest seats in America, we’re off to the Midwest, specifically Michigan which hosts four teams across four sports (it’s currently without a men’s soccer team franchise) and offers an average single ticket cost of $101. Whilst down in the Southeast there’s a contrast between two neighboring states, with Georgia boasting the second lowest average ticket price in the country with four teams, whilst Florida is home to a mammoth eleven teams, and has the third most costly tickets at $182 each on average.
State/DistrictNumber of teamsNumber of sportsAverage single ticket cost
New York95$198
New Jersey43$177
North Carolina44$140
District of Columbia44$135
The cheapest and most expensive states to watch American football: ‘The gridiron sport’
Tickets are in high demand for America’s most popular sport, with stadium crowds growing again in 2023 to an average 69,524 per game [3]. With the sport in its off-season, no single game tickets were available to purchase at the time of creating our study, so we used averages from the ticket platform StubHub which shows that the hottest ticket in town is in a place revered for its capacity to entertain, Las Vegas, Nevada. The average ticket price of $938 was the highest average across all of the sports we analyzed and dwarfs the next highest average cost of $516 in Massachusetts.
Kansas City has seen its fair share of success in recent seasons with two straight Super Bowl victories, so it’s no surprise to see it amongst the highest average ticket prices, behind only Massachusetts and Nevada.
On the other end of the scale, Indiana in the American Midwest, offers the cheapest average seats in football at $155, with its neighbors to the north Michigan only marginally higher at $170. Surprisingly, New York has the third lowest average single ticket costs in football with neighboring New Jersey also offering below average prices - despite the fame of its two teams based in East Rutherford.
State/DistrictCities/TownsAverage single ticket cost
NevadaLas Vegas$938
MissouriKansas City$419
CaliforniaInglewood, Santa Clara$355
PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, Pittsburgh$303
FloridaTampa, Miami, Jacksonville$301
WisconsinGreen Bay$289
LouisianaNew Orleans$271
TexasArlington, Houston$249
North CarolinaCharlotte$239
OhioCleveland, Cincinnati$220
MarylandBaltimore, Landover$202
New JerseyEast Rutherford$199
New YorkOrchard Park$184
The cheapest and most expensive states to watch baseball
Originating in the early 19th century and formed into the game we know and love by the efforts of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York [4], baseball has been an integral part of American society for hundreds of years. Its season runs from March to September during the spring and summer months, and with 30 teams all playing 162 games each during the regular season (compared to 17 each in American football), it’s perhaps understandable considering the volume of games available, that it's the sport with the lowest average ticket prices. Whilst tickets for some seats were available in the thousands, you can find individual game tickets for as low as $5.
New York, famed for its baseball and revered for its historic stadia has the highest average ticket prices across its two teams, with fans needing to part within the region of $144 per game to see this great sport in action. Once again Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states, as is California with a $92 average across its five teams.
If you’re looking for the cheapest tickets on offer then head to the Pacific Northwest and the city of Seattle in Washington state, where the average ticket cost is $46 to catch some Major League baseball action.
State/DistrictCities/TownsAverage single ticket cost
New YorkNew York$144
MissouriSt. Louis, Kansas City$99
CaliforniaLos Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, Anaheim$92
PennsylvaniaPittsburgh, Philadelphia$78
TexasHouston, Arlington$76
FloridaSt Petersburg, Miami$71
District of ColumbiaWashington D.C.$65
OhioCleveland, Cincinnati$55
The cheapest and most expensive states to watch basketball
Fast-paced, high scoring and undoubtedly thrilling to watch live, basketball has enthralled US audiences since the late 19th century and continues to draw big crowds.
Despite an actual game lasting just 48 minutes in total (four quarters of 12 minutes), the entire length of a basketball match can span between two and two and a half hours due to timeouts and halftime breaks - so despite the average ticket costing $165, you’ll still get plenty of bang for your buck.
At over double the average ticket price, watching basketball in New York will cost around $362, with some courtside tickets exchanging hands for thousands of dollars, making it comfortably the most expensive state to watch the action. Once again Massachusetts has one of the highest averages whilst Minnesota ranks third in the list of highest prices, with an average ticket costing $231 to watch basketball in Minneapolis.
Those seeking the cheapest seats should head to Michigan, Oregon, or Oklahoma, where average prices dip below $75 per ticket, a comparative bargain for the thrifty sports fan.
State/DistrictCities/TownsAverage single ticket cost
New YorkNew York$362
CaliforniaLos Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento$227
LouisianaNew Orleans$158
TexasSan Antonio, Houston, Dallas$148
UtahSalt Lake City$137
North CarolinaCharlotte$117
FloridaMiami, Orlando$117
District of ColumbiaWashington$85
OklahomaOklahoma City$70
The cheapest and most expensive states to watch ice hockey
Ice hockey provides thrills aplenty in a game that requires an incredible amount of skill to manipulate a tiny puck into a small, guarded net whilst skating on ice, pursued by an opposing team of players. The national hockey league draws around 23 million fans to its stadiums every season [5] and with their indoor stadiums relatively compact in size compared to the behemoths seen in American football, average ticket prices are high as a result.
The highest average ticket price can be found in Arizona, and with 300 days of sunshine a year across the state, perhaps residents of Arizona crave the ice more than any other. If you want to head to the stadium in Tempe for a game, you can expect to pay an average of $240. The most expensive city to watch ice hockey in is New York, but with three teams in the state, the average of $177 per ticket means it ranks behind Massachusetts, Nevada and Florida in terms of how expensive tickets are on average.
The cheapest state to catch a game of ice hockey in is New York’s neighbor, New Jersey, the only state where average ticket prices drop below $100.
State/DistrictCities/TownsAverage single ticket cost
NevadaLas Vegas$187
FloridaTampa, Sunrise$181
New YorkNew York, Elmont, Buffalo$177
MinnesotaSaint Paul$138
District of ColumbiaWashington$125
PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, Pittsburgh$124
CaliforniaLos Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose$116
North CarolinaRaleigh$110
MissouriSt Louis$108
New JerseyNewark$98
The cheapest and most expensive states to watch soccer: ‘The Beautiful Game’
Soccer can lay claim to being the most popular sport on the planet [6] with a staggering 3.5 billion fans around the world transfixed by its season-long rivalries, never-ending drama and capacity for end-to-end excitement.
It’s never been the most popular sport in the US, though the American soccer league is now attracting big stars and much excitement across its 29 teams, 26 of which are based in the US across 19 states and the District of Columbia.
In fact, according to our analysis, it’s the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. which has the highest average single ticket cost of $264. Florida has both the most and least expensive city to watch soccer in on average in the US, with Miami being the most expensive and Orlando the least. Overall, Florida's average ticket prices place it as the third most expensive state with New Jersey ranking in second spot.
The cheapest seats to watch soccer can be found in Colorado with an average ticket price of $44, and Illinois not too far ahead at $53.
State/DistrictCities/TownsAverage single ticket cost
District of ColumbiaWashington$264
New JerseyHarrison$213
FloridaFort Lauderdale, Orlando$179
MissouriSt Louis$150
CaliforniaLos Angeles, Carson, San Jose$112
KansasKansas City$97
OhioCincinnati, Columbus$97
North CarolinaCharlotte$94
TexasAustin, Frisco, Houston$77
MinnesotaSaint Paul$74
New YorkNew York$61
ColoradoCommerce City$44
If you’re making the move to the US and are planning to see some of the fantastic live sport on offer across the country, then you’ll be able to transfer money securely and conveniently with Remitly. Discover more and get some tips and advice on immigration in our blog.
How we researched the cheapest and most expensive states to watch live sport
The ticket prices for the next three home games were used to calculate the mean average of ticket prices for 141 teams spanning each US state across the following sports: soccer, baseball, basketball and ice hockey.
As American Football is not currently being played and no single game ticket prices are therefore available, average ticket price data for this sport was taken from ticketing platform Stubhub.
Data correct as of March 2024.
Sources References