Newsday has a good piece today on the increased ticket prices at Shea.
We posted about the gouging last night. Nothing surprising. Ticket prices go up most years. But this article puts the increase in context of the new stadiums (Both Yankee and Mets). The basic theme: ticket prices will continue to increase because people with lots of money will pay for them. Why are the Mets building a stadium with 20,000 fewer seats? “Because the last few thousand seats are the most expensive to build, but they produce the least revenue.”
This is why I don’t understand why fans aren’t more annoyed about Citi Field. It’s a farce to call this stadium a “throwback.” Ebbets Field wasn’t an exclusive club for New York’s elite. It was a stadium for real, blue-collar fans. Citi Field was built for — and is being priced for — an audience other than the real Mets fans who have attended games for decades at Shea.
Better sight lines? More bathrooms? Big deal. Unless you are willing to pay $100 a seat, you’ll never enjoy those amenities. A family of five (like mine) is going to be watching alot of games on TV that we used to go to in person.
From Tuesday’s Newsday:
From a bad choke to what seemed like a bad joke, Mets fans were stunned over the weekend to learn the team had boosted ticket prices by an average of 20 percent for 2008.
If Yankees fans had a laugh at their expense, they sobered up yesterday when they got their own lumps of coal: increases throughout a complex pricing system.
Here's the scariest thing, though: What will it all mean when both baseball teams open new stadiums in 2009 and ticket structures as we have understood them go kablooey?
Some of that we know now; some remains a mystery.
Lonn Trost, the Yankees' chief operating officer, said the team sought to spread out the changes and in fact priced the 2009 season first, then worked backward, so that about half of next season's seats will rise, but cost the same when the new stadium opens. The rest presumably will go up for '09.
Dave Howard, the Mets' executive VP of business operations, said the Mets' 2008 prices primarily are based on '08 economics, not as a preliminary step toward 2009.
But he conceded demand for tickets - and presumably the willingness to fork over the extra dough - is enhanced by fans' desire to retain priority at Citi Field.
It's a complex subject, one made more confusing by the different approaches of the teams, the different sizes of their new stadiums and different policies on matters such as variable pricing.
The New York drama is part of larger trends as the sports palaces of the 21st century continue to replace the last of the previous millennium's relics.
One clear trend: As in general American society, there is an ever-widening gap between economic haves and have-nots.
The most shocking ticket price increases tend to target those most able and willing to pay, while teams try to keep less desirable seats available at reasonable prices.
Howard said direct comparisons between Citi and Shea are difficult, but that the team is committed to maintaining affordable tickets.
"There will be some very expensive seats at Citi Field," he said, "but also a number of inexpensive seats."
One problem is the number of cheap seats often shrinks in newer, smaller stadiums such as Citi and New Yankee. This will be especially noticeable at Citi, where the whopping 20,000 upper-deck seats at Shea will be a distant memory.
The new Yankee Stadium will be larger by about 9,000 seats than Citi, and Trost promised 39,000 seats for $100 or less, 24,000 at $45 or less, 16,000 at $25 or less and 5,000 bleacher seats at $12.
Why make the stadiums smaller in the first place?
Because the last few thousand seats are the most expensive to build, but they produce the least revenue. It also is because a perception of scarcity leads fans to buy early and often, for fear of being shut out. The teams like that very much.
Catering to richer, more demanding fans goes beyond selling them good seats and jumbo shrimp. In some cases, it extends to variable pricing.
For example, according to a Mets' ticket holder with loge seats, the price hikes for 2008 are steepest for the most attractive games.
The cost of his seat will rise from $82 to $117 for platinum level opponents, or 43 percent. The increase descends from there to the value level, where the price rise is only $5 per ticket.
What's the strategy? Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports consultant, said "relatively price-insensitive businesses and high net worth individuals" are willing to pay extra for big games, leaving lesser opponents to people looking for bargains.
Look for that strategy to continue in the new stadium. (The Yankees don't do variable pricing.)
There will be benefits to the new buildings for those who get their hands on inexpensive seats: Views will be better in the smaller stadiums, and some fan-friendly goodies are good for everyone, even if they largely are financed by the high rollers.
"It's being closer, more amenities, better bathrooms, all the things everybody gets the benefit of," Ganis said.
Howard said the Mets still have the least costly median price of the area's major pro teams. And they currently are having a holiday sale on their Web site that offers the types of deals that likely will be more difficult to come by in '09 and beyond.
What about football? The Giants and Jets have not said whether they will resort to personal seat licenses in their new stadium in 2010. Uh-oh.
Yanks raise ticket prices for '08
The Yankees joined their crosstown counterparts yesterday in raising ticket prices for the 2008 season. Though Lonn Trost, the team's chief operating officer, was not happy about doing it, he made no apologies for bowing to the inevitable.
"We have to be able to be in a position to make sure fans can afford it and come out," he said. "We also have to be in a position to pay for all this."
"This" includes expensive items such as a new stadium and old players.
Trost said he was unable to estimate the average percentage increase for tickets "because we didn't look at it that way." The way the Yankees did look at their 2008 pricing was as an interim step of sorts en route to 2009 and their move across the street.
"The best way to say it is that approximately 50 percent of the increases that have been put in effect in 2008 will not increase into the new building," he said.
The team has about 37,000 season-ticket holders, and there is no reason to expect much drop-off, if any, with the new stadium on the horizon.
Trost said the price of bleacher seats will rise from $10 to $12 (in a season package) and upper reserved seats will go from $17 to $20 or $25. There also are increases at far more expensive levels.
Unlike the Mets, the Yankees do not offer variable pricing based on opponents or day of week.
The 10 most expensive ticket levels already are sold out.
The costliest of the remaining eight levels, the "Tier Boxes MVP," cost $55 per game for a full season ticket, $65 for an individual ticket in advance and $70 on game day.
The most expensive ticket is $400 for a game-day purchase at the "Field Championship" level. - Neil Best