As Opening Day draws near and the Yanks still haven’t sold out their new $2 billion playground, ticket pricing on both the political and economic sides of the issue has creeped back into the news.
In reverse order, we start with a Richard Sandomir piece in today’s Times. The Yankees are a bit concerned about the number of unsold premium seats. The Yanks are taking out ads in all of the city’s major papers and are generally finding it tough to fill seats that cost a few hundreds a game for 81 games.
Sandomir also relates more tales of woe from the fans, and we at River Ave. Blues received our own story this week. Writes a reader who will remain anonymous:
I have read in your blog and others how the Yankee ticket office has treated past season ticket holders pretty bad. Well you can add prospective season ticket holders that put down $1,065.00 deposit for the full 81 games back in early December. I checked with the Yankees in Dec. and was told it would be January before I heard. At the end of January I was told it would be the end of February. Now at the beginning of March I spoke to a very rude person in the Yankee ticket office that said that I would not hear until the end of March. That is, if they have anything at all to offer. But “don’t worry,” you won’t lose any money. I was told that I could have my deposit back or just leave it with them as a down payment for the 2010 season. Like I’m going to do that.
As companies these days face debates over customer service, the Yanks are intent on pushing an old maxim — the customer is always right — to its limits. While in a good economy, the Yanks would have filled their premium seats with high-rolling financial clients and the like, in a bad economy, the team and their customer service reps just come off looking bitter.
That said, what Richard Brodsky is proposing is rather preposterous. While I’ve supported Brodsky in his efforts to get to the bottom of the sketchy accounting surrounding the land underneath the new Yankee Stadium, his latest clash with the Yanks is a bit extreme. On Friday, Randy Levin and Brodsky clashed horns over the Assembly representative’s desires for price-controlled tickets in publicly-funded stadiums. Reports Bloomberg News:
New York Yankees President Randy Levine said he opposes state lawmakers’ efforts to dictate prices for tickets sold at sports stadiums built with public support such as the franchise’s new ballpark in the Bronx.
State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, a Manhattan Democrat, has introduced a bill requiring that 7 percent of tickets sold to any sporting event carry “affordable prices” as a condition of pro-sports facilities receiving state or local benefits…
“If you’re charging too much, people will not come,” Levine said at an assembly committee hearing today in lower Manhattan. “If we’re not selling enough tickets to pay it back, the responsibility is on us to adjust.”
While the hearings were ostensibly about tax documents and tax-exempt bond financing, Levine and Brodsky were yelling at each other, according to Richard Sandomir’s account.
The problem with Kavanagh’s proposal is that teams already have affordable pricing. As far as sports in New York go, it’s still far cheaper to see a Yankee or Met game than it is to get tickets to a game in the Meadowlands or a Knicks game at the Garden. The economics of baseball and demands of an 81-game schedule preclude overly expensive tickets, and this move seems like the Assembly sticking its nose into something it should just leave alone.