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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Avarice in the Bronx (or Why Yankee Fans Should Consider Becoming Phillies Fans)

The New York Times reports today that the Yankees are having difficulty selling full-season ticket packages for tickets "between the bases." The reason: they cost $325 apiece.

That is not a misprint. The Bombers are now considering offering half-season and quarter-season packages for these seats. And they're not so sure how that marketing will turn out, either.

The Yankees shouldn't be shocked. Wall Street is in full retreat. The economy is the worst that most of us can remember. Now, the Yankees didn't just decide to build their new palace in the Bronx. They did so when the economy was humming along, and now they're faced with the blunt-force trauma that is the current economic situation. Put differently, they built the stadium on an economic model that assumed that they can fill their building with the ticket prices embedded in the model. Fast forward until today, and the supply far outreaches the demand. That wasn't the case several years ago when the model was put together. Then, the Yankees weren't that far removed from their last world championship, didn't have aging stars (Jeter, Posada, Pettite), the recent history of a prima donna rental player at the center of the steroids scandal (Clemens) and a megastar whose life is as complicated as AIG's financial statements (A-Rod).

So, the Yankees are trying to sell tickets between the bases for $325 each. I don't know if there is a team in major league baseball that sells a set of four tickets between the bases for more than $325 total (excluding the behind-the-plate vanity seats that many teams sell for dollars that can rival what the Yankees are charging for all tickets between the bases). Outside of the pricy Diamond Club in Philadelphia, (which consists of tickets behind home plate) tickets between the bases go for about $40 bucks apiece.

And the Phillies won the World Series last year.

Philadelphia is only 90 miles away from New York, but if you're a New Yorker looking for good baseball at bargain prices, you might want to adopt a different team. The Phillies did sell out 50 of their 81 home games last year, but you could help them sell out the other 31 and see some pretty good baseball in the process -- with a team that has a better chance of making the post-season than yours.

So, buy four tickets between the bases in Philadelphia, say at $55 apiece over StubHub. That's $220. Gas might cost you $25 for a round trip. The tolls might cost you $15 for a round trip. Parking will cost you $11. Toss in food for four, programs, souvenirs and add in another $100. Total for the experience -- between $350 and $400. For four people!

Here's a challenge to the Yankees -- if you really do have more money than every other club, didn't invest with Bernie Madoff, and make so much money from the YES network that your ticket revenues form a relatively small (say 25% or less) of your take, consider dropping your tickets prices so that you can fill the building and not risk the embarrassment of too many empty seats or the ire of your rank-and-file fans, who will also be miffed if many of those seats go vacant because you didn't adjust to the current economy. Your tickets prices are lunacy.

Fans walked in 1994 after the strike that served to cancel the World Series.

This time they may walk away for a long time because they don't have as many marginal dollars to spend and you're rubbing their face in it.

Good luck to you.


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