Between 1977 and today, things have gotten exponentially more expensive: groceries, cars, housing prices, a cup of coffee in the morning—basically everything, it seems, except the cost of seeing the Columbus Clippers, a Triple-A baseball team, play in person. When the modern incarnation of the Clippers formed in Columbus, Ohio, a ticket was $5. Today, it is $8.
The Clippers are a storied minor-league franchise, an affiliate first of the Yankees (1979-2006) and now the Cleveland Guardians (2009-present) that once had Derek Jeter on its roster. But the Columbus Clippers owe their relative affordability to their unique governing structure: They are publicly owned. Franklin County, in which Columbus is its most populous city, runs the team, making it one of the only franchises in the country where maximizing profit is secondary to ensuring community access and participation.
This is not something that fans of the Clippers need to worry about. “When the community owns a team, it tends to stay in the community,” said Edward A. Fallone, a professor at Marquette University Law School who wrote a paper on fan ownership, “as opposed to the never-ending merry-go-round of teams leaving for larger media markets or getting purchased and moved by a new owner.”