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Inelastic sports ticket pricing, marginal win revenue, and firm pricing strategy: A behavioral pricing model

Yang-Ming Chang (Department of Economics, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Joel M. Potter (Finance and Economics, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, Georgia, USA)
Shane Sanders (Economics and Decision Sciences, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois, USA)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




A standard result of firm theory is that a monopoly maximizes profit somewhere along the elastic portion of its demand curve. However, empirical studies of sports ticket pricing routinely find that (home) teams price along the inelastic portion of demand. Despite compelling theoretical explanations of this finding, at least one important factor remains unconsidered. A profit-maximizing team considers not only direct marginal revenue and direct marginal cost when setting a ticket price but also deferred, strategic benefit (revenue) from present game success. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Prior literature finds that a given win is valued in that it generates additional future revenue and likelihood of home victory rises, ceteris paribus, in crowd density. The authors construct a firm profit maximization problem in which a sports team considers both present and future revenue when pricing home games in the present period.


If the deferred benefit is sufficiently large, a forward-looking, profit-maximizing team prices along the inelastic portion of its static demand curve. Importantly, this same price falls along the elastic portion of the firm’s (empirically unobserved) dynamic demand curve.


This is the first model of sports ticket pricing to recognize the intertemporal nature of demand for a sports match.



Chang, Y.-M., Potter, J.M. and Sanders, S. (2016), "Inelastic sports ticket pricing, marginal win revenue, and firm pricing strategy: A behavioral pricing model", Managerial Finance, Vol. 42 No. 9, pp. 922-927.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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