— Days Without Shea —

Hammerhead Shark from Hilton Head
Kingman has returned.

The Kingman crew had a great couple weeks away from NY. We went down to the Deep South for some beach, some sun and a bit of fishing. My middle son caught a Hammerhead shark and we all caught a nice break away from work and the Web.

Thanks for all the comments and e-mails while Loge13 did its summer siesta. I'll get back to all of you this week as we hit the stretch run to the end of Shea Stadium's storied existence.

As of this writing, we are 56 days from Shea's last official game. After dropping four in a row, things are looking rough for the Blue and Orange. But there is still alot of baseball left. Forget the news today about Maine's DL stint or Wagner's MRI. Keep hope alive.

That is, unless you are hoping for tickets next year. Nothing has changed on that front. Loge13 friend Eli sent the following query on July 29 to the Mets: " Will partial plan customers like myself (Saturdays) have an opportunity to purchase similar plans in 2009?"

The response:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Ticket Plans at Citi Field.


At this time, the only assurance made for Citi Field is that 2008 Full Season Ticket Holders have priority in purchasing Season Tickets for 2009.


We have not yet made a determination on the availability of Ticket Plans for 2009.  However, we appreciate the loyal support of our many Plan Holders over the years at Shea, and will communicate directly with you as soon as a determination on any Ticket Plan offerings is made.


Thank you for your continued support and business.

That's nice.

Meanwhile, this week''s Crain's NY does a fantastic job of breaking down the economics of Citi Field. Bottom line: even with less seats and more luxury boxes, Shea's successor is on pace to meet it's financial requirements for 2009:

ets' new base completes return to respectability Daniel Massey

The talk in a front-row loge box at a recent Mets game against the Philadelphia Phillies wasn't about the battle for first place between the two teams. Instead, fans in the choice location behind the plate conversed about a different kind of struggle: how to cope with a doubling in price of those seats when the Mets move into Citi Field next year.

"Everybody's saying, `We're not going to be able to afford our tickets,' " says Maggie Felpo, a professional fundraiser who has shared a season ticket plan behind home plate for 12 years. "We're going to have to cut back."

Ticket prices at Citi will rise, as the Mets, who for years languished in an outdated Shea Stadium, finally capitalize on the revenues and resources that New York City can generate. Citi Field will provide the Mets with unprecedented revenue and will be the final piece of the puzzle that will guarantee the franchise's stability for years to come.

But the Mets—who have a noncorporate fan base—will have to make sure that they don't alienate the faithful in an all-out push for dollars as they increase their revenues by more than 30%. And while their finances will be more robust, they will remain well behind the Yankees, who are also opening a new stadium next year that could double their take.

Solid base

The move into Citi Field follows the Mets' return to respectability on the diamond that began with the acquisition of pitcher Pedro Martinez and the launch of the club's own regional sports television network, SportsNet New York.

"Citi Field is the final key component to ensuring the stability of the Mets for generations to come," says Lee Berke, president of LHB Inc., a sports consulting firm.

Luxury suites and club seats in the ballpark inspired by Brooklyn's fabled Ebbets Field will help push the Mets' revenue above $300 million, from a Forbes estimate of $235 million in the 2007 season. For owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon, the value of the team—already second highest in the majors—will soon exceed $1 billion, up from $824 million, sports business experts say.

"This is Ebbets Field on steroids," says Bob Leffler, president of the Leffler Agency, one of the top sports marketing firms in the country.

The Mets declined to detail revenue estimates but acknowledged the obvious: Their new $800 million stadium provides ways to make money as varied as pitcher Oliver Perez's arm angles.

"We're taking on a very large risk by being responsible for the largest private real estate development in the history of the borough of Queens," says Dave Howard, executive vice president of business operations for the Mets. "We do have a lot of entrepreneurial drive to take advantage of all the new opportunities."

The Mets will pay about $32 million annually over 40 years to service the debt on bonds that financed construction. The bulk of construction costs will be covered by the $20 million-a-year, 20-year naming rights agreement with Citigroup Inc.

Luxury suite revenue should exceed $20 million. The Mets had trouble selling corporate boxes at Shea because many of the 45 were situated in the outfield and had poor sight lines. By contrast, all 54 Citi Field boxes are located in the infield, with much better views of the action. Most of the Shea suites sold for $175,000 a year, while the Citi ones will cost $250,000 to $500,000. Already, the Mets have nearly sold out all 49 suites for next season and may convert five single-game party suites into season-long rentals to keep pace with demand.

Revenue from ticket sales will also rise, to as much as $215 million from Forbes' estimate of $114 million at Shea—even though there will be nearly 15,000 fewer seats at Citi Field. The sight lines are improved, and the seats are closer to the field, allowing the club to charge more.

"Every seat will be a great seat," says Mr. Howard. Some seats will be as inexpensive as $12, and the team claims that more than 50% of the seats will cost $50 or less. Some 7,500 club seats will run from $60 to $495 and will come with access to adjacent climate-controlled restaurants.

Revenue streams

Revenue from food and merchandise should bring in another $24 million, after expenses, with ticket holders expected to spend an average of $17 on food. Restaurant capacity will jump to 3,100, from 500 at Shea, and points of sale for food and beverages will rise to 1 per 150 fans from 1 per 254 fans.

Money will also flow in from merchandise sales, which a bond prospectus estimates will total $3.6 million, or $3.75 per fan. The new stadium will house a 7,200-square-foot team store, which is more than twice the size of the current one. The team will also keep the first $8 million in parking revenues and split the rest with the city.

Some 12,000 square feet of high-tech video displays will be built into the stadium, providing new outlets for advertisers and at least $24 million in revenue for the team.

Although curiosity and excitement should trump the sputtering economy next season, a prolonged economic downturn, combined with increased competition from other new stadiums opening in the area, could make the Mets a tougher sell down the road.

Fans are already scrambling to find partners to share season ticket plans, with many expecting to attend half as many games in the new stadium.

The heightened competition and sluggish economy put increased pressure on the Mets to field a successful team, and experts say the club needs to be careful not to alienate diehard fans.

"You're going to have a honeymoon period where the demand is going to outstrip the supply like you wouldn't believe," says Wayne McDonnell, an assistant professor of sports management at New York University. "But I hope they don't sell their soul, because unlike the tried-and-true fans who have lived and died with the team for generations, the corporate dollar is fickle and fluctuates with the market."

How Mets stadiums stack up.
(Figures for Shea Stadium followed by those for Citi Field)

Capacity 57,333; 45,000 (including standing room)
Lowest ticket price $5; $12
Highest ticket price $117; $495
Luxury suites 45; 54
Luxury suite prices $175,000-$390,000; $250,000-$500,000
Concession points of sale 1 per 254 fans; 1 per 150 fans

[August 4, 2008 10:19 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Doug said

Same old line from the Club. I am still a firm believer that partial plan holders will be offered something in the new ballpark, and that the Mets are trying to drum up new business by making the statements they have made.

I am curious as to what our Post-Season Invoices will read, because they usually have a statement or two about applying a refund towards the following season....

It should make an interesting fall, none-the-less..

Lets Go Mets!

[August 4, 2008 1:08 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Anonymous said

"Some seats will be as inexpensive as $12, and the team claims that more than 50% of the seats will cost $50 or less."

My guess is that those $12 seats will be in the bleachers. Let's do the math - family of four - tickets total $48, plus parking (or subway), food, scorecard - I'd say that's a minimum $80 outing for the worst seats at Citi Field. Improve the seat location and it goes up accordingly. That's going to price a whole bunch of families out of the market, except for maybe an outing once or twice a season.

Now, read that quote again carefully and you realize he's saying that almost half the seats will cost $50 or more! Buying two $50 tickets for a full season costs $8,100. That almost guarantees that those seats will be bought by corporations or wealthy individuals. There will be no place at Citi Field for the average fan.

Call me an old fart who's hopelessly out of touch, but as someone who remembers when the most expensive seat at Shea cost $3.50, this is pretty hard to swallow.

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