As the openings of two new baseball stadiums draw closer and a new football stadium grows in the Meadowlands, ticket prices are in the news these days. The most recent warning sign on tickets comes to us from Times scribe Richard Sandomir. In Tuesday’s paper, he wrote about rising ticket prices and the fan outrage that goes along with the increases.
Even as fans of the Mets, the Yankees, the Giants and the Jets look forward to state-of-the-art stadium architecture, better sightlines, wider concourses and more bathrooms, some of them are also facing startling increases in ticket costs during a serious economic downturn.
The teams are confident market research supports the increases, but season-ticket holders say the price they are being asked to pay in the new stadiums — the Mets’ $800 million Citi Field, the $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium and the $1.6 billion (and climbing) Jets-Giants stadium — is turning them into something other than fans. Instead, interviews with two dozen fans indicated, they are starting to feel like unwitting bankers…
Tickets for the best seats at the 85-year-old Yankee Stadium, which sold for $1,000 a seat this season, will jump at the new ballpark to $2,500; in other areas of the stadium, they will range from $135 to $500 for season tickets. Prices for single-game tickets, which ranged from $14 to $400 this season, will be released later.
The Yankees, to be fair, have said that a majority of their tickets won’t see price increases in 2009. What 2010 and beyond hold is anyone’s guess.
Meanwhile, as Sandomir writes, the fans are complaining about the jump in price because they’re not getting anything in return. We as fans don’t necessarily want the new stadiums, but we’re being asked to front the costs of the fancier facilities, Margarita bars and steakhouses through significantly higher ticket prices.
The teams, as the excerpt above notes, believe they’ll get enough corporate buyers for the season tickets to justify the price increases, but how does that impact the fan base? If the only people who can afford games now are the suits at New York’s major corporations and Wall Street firms, what happens to the fans without obscene paychecks and Park Ave. penthouses who have long come to Yankee games and have long sat in seats that, while an expensive luxury, weren’t priced out of budgets for all but the richest of New Yorkers?
I know full well that baseball stadiums and ticket prices respond to the market forces. I know that, on StubHub, the cheapest tickets are selling for well above face value because there are only 14 games left in regular season Yankee Stadium history. But I have to wonder if teams owe to their fans to keep face-value prices somewhat reasonable. Free-marketers will say no, and the Yankees aren’t about to tear down their nearly-finished new stadium. But call me sentimental; the new place with its high-priced crowd just won’t be the same, and economics are indeed partly to blame for it.