By Kurt Smith of BallParkEGuides.com
In case you were out of town in the weeks leading up to baseball season, the Yankees have a new policy regarding entry into the ballpark: no print-at-home tickets. Fans must get real tickets, scan them on their mobile device or watch the game on TV.
The move took away the most convenient option for fans buying through third party sellers, most notably StubHub, who now delivers the tickets to fans via UPS.
The news wasn’t well received by Yankees fans, to say the least…especially at COO Lonn Trost’s confounding elitist explanation…that someone sitting in the prime seats would have to share the section with someone who paid a fraction of the price for the seat, and doesn’t know how to behave when sitting among the upper class.
Yankees blogs and fans reacted the way you’d imagine they would…accusing the Yankees of being elitist and catering to the rich. My favorite quote was from Anthony Fisher of The Week: “Ever been bumped from a flight, only to win the lottery by getting a free First Class upgrade on the next flight? Ever had to endure the glares from a passenger who just knows from the way you wiped with your warm towelette that you just don’t belong in the rarified air of the front of the plane? Trost feels that guy’s pain.” The HBO rant with John Oliver and the resulting fans in Ninja Turtle costumes in the Legends Suite seats were hysterical, but they missed the point.
It never was about being elitist or frowning on their less affluent fans. It was about the Yankees setting the market rather than StubHub revealing it.
And for the moment, at least when comparing ticket prices on StubHub to the Yankees’ own Ticket Exchange, it looks as though the Yankees have won.
In a short and admittedly unscientific research expedition, I’ve found that with both a Red Sox game and a midweek game against the Rockies, the price for tickets in the same section and row are now significantly higher on StubHub than on the Yankees Ticket Exchange. At times I noticed a significant difference with the exact same seats.
The Yankees Ticket Exchange, see, doesn’t have to UPS those tickets to you…they can just send the bar codes to your smartphone. The Yankees claim that StubHub could do the same thing, but StubHub was quick to respond, no, we can’t, not without the codes you won’t release to us.
So with StubHub you’re paying the StubHub fee, which is considerable, but you’re also paying the UPS charge to have those tickets sent to you. I chatted with a StubHub rep who said the UPS charge is still there even if you pick the tickets up at their Last Minute Service location in the Bronx Terminal Market.
I don’t know how long it will take for fans to notice the difference, but I expect you’ll see fewer and fewer tickets listed on StubHub once they do.
And so the Yankees get their wish…a price floor on resold tickets. Miserably bad PR aside, the Yankees have won their battle with the third market for the time being. One wonders if other teams will follow suit.
The only caveat for the Yankees now is, will those tickets be resold at the price floor price?
That, of course, depends on their success on the field, which this year hasn’t been spectacular, to say the least. The Yankees currently reside in last in the AL East, especially as teams pull massive fielding shifts on a mostly left-handed pull hitting lineup.
Should the Yankees continue to stumble, expect those tickets to go unsold, probably…and season ticket holders to be more upset at not being able to get something in return for their overpriced tickets.
And if the Yankees flip the switch? Who knows? They had a lot of empty prime seats in playoff series in the past.
At some point you might think that the Yankees might consider imposing a new price floor of their own…that of a formerly proud franchise struggling at the gate.
Hopefully, the market will decide.
About the Author
Kurt Smith, owner of BallParkEGuides.com, has been a staff writer for the fine publication JerseyMan Magazine (and its sister publication PhillyMan) for several years now. He has compared Chickie’s and Pete’s to P.J. Whelihan’s, tried just about every food item at Citizens Bank Park, interviewed the fourth generation owners of Sarcone’s Bakery and described how precision pistol shooters can hit an eight-inch target from 50 yards, among many other things.
He is a former NASCAR writer who was a regular contributor to two excellent racing websites: “The Frontstretch” and the Charlotte Observer’s “That’s Racin'”. He has contributed to Sports Illustrated and been featured on ESPN Radio’s “Carey and Coffey Show” several times. Kurt still talks NASCAR with Pete Spadora every Saturday morning on Fox Sports Radio’s “Spadora on Sports“.
He is also a board member of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to spreading the word about Feller’s service and the heroes of World War II…some of whom were the top baseball players of their day.
And as if that weren’t enough, by day he is the best damn software development analyst ever employed at Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Kurt loves baseball (obviously), NASCAR, Mexican food, the Foo Fighters, Monty Python, the Rocky and Star Wars movies, summer vacations in North Wildwood, and getting out of bed obnoxiously early to get in a fast car and see this great country.
Finally, he resides in Turnersville, NJ, just a 15-minute drive from Citizens Bank Park, with his beautiful and amazingly patient wife, their two unbearably cute kids, and their needy but lovable cat.
Want to drop Kurt a line? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org!