SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Sports and Politics: Where 3 Years Is an Eternity for Both

With 17 games left in the 2007 season, the New York Mets, a few hits away from making the World Series in 2006, were coasting toward another division title. Then they hit a skid that continues to this day, so much so that after this season, as Mike Sielski reports, the team has cut its ticket prices for many tickets (although it did raise the price of its cheapest ticket from $11 to $12). The reasons are pretty self-explanatory -- when the demand isn't there at the price, lower the price to try to stimulate the demand. Get people to the ballpark, and they'll buy more stuff. Get more people into the ballpark, generate more advertising revenue, more interest in the team, and more money to sign free agents. Or so some of the theory goes.

In contrast, their neighbors 90 miles to the south raised ticket prices once again. The reasons are pretty simple for the Phillies. Since 2007, they have won their division four years running, made it to the World Series twice and the NLCS three times. They have sold out all their season ticket plans -- whole and partial. As a result, what they used to guarantee they are unable to guarantee any more for partial season ticket holders -- tickets to one game of each playoff series. I got my re-up invoice today for my 17-game plan (with a hefty credit for two unused sets of tickets for the NLCS -- I had tickets to Game 7 -- and the World Series). My ticket prices went up by 5%, and the Phils broke the news of the playoff tickets to me.

Mind you, two years ago, during the magical run that led to their first World Series win in 28 years, because of my partial season ticket plan, I got tickets to 1 game of each playoff series and received an email offering me an opportunity to get 2 additional tickets to another NLCS game (which I took the Phillies up on and watched them pound the Dodgers 8-5 on a gorgeous fall day in Philadelphia). That, though, was in 2008. Also, in 2009, one of my sets of tickets for the post-season was in the lower deck (in left field). In 2010, all of my tickets were located at the intersection of God and the Conan blimp. That's what success does -- and the demand is pretty wild.

The Mets are cutting prices; the Phillies raising them. In three years, it could be the other way around. The Mets -- with Sandy Alderson and J.P. Ricciardi making the roster moves -- could be on the rise with a young, flexible team. In contrast, the Phillies could have the oldest position player lineup in the game, one replete with repetitive injuries to aging players, and be foundering. All of a sudden, people might not re-up on their tickets, the joint might not jump any more, and tickets will be available on StubHub more plentifully and more cheaply. It could well happen, and, remember, after the great introduction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards almost 20 years ago, the team in Baltimore is terrible and tickets are plentiful. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it hasn't been the case that "these things run in cycles," because sadly for them they reside in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Right now, the Phillies are printing money and the Mets are bleeding it. That hasn't always been the case, and it always won't be, either.

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