Apr
20

If you overcharge for it, they won’t come

By

emptyseats

That photo collage up there — click it to enlarge — shows the view I had yesterday afternoon. Mike and I were sitting in the Grandstand between right field and first base, and we had an excellent view of the mostly empty lower deck. I snapped those photos in the bottom of the first, and the seats never filled in.

For the Yankees, this was just another in a weekend series of disappointingly attended games. The official announced attendance on Sunday was 43,068, and most of that crowd was sitting in seats other than the most expensive ones behind the plate.

Already, bloggers and beat writers are having a field day with this latest development at new Yankee Stadium. Ross at New Stadium Insider compared the empty seats to Madison Square Garden and Pete Abraham’s first mailbag touched upon the issue as well.

The Yankees are seemingly ignoring reality. “We’re actually very pleased, based on the history of reduced attendance for the second game of the year,” Yanks’ President Randy Levine said to Tyler Kepner. “We significantly exceeded even the last year of Yankee Stadium.”

The only problem with Levine’s statement is that it’s not true. The Yanks drew over 48,000 for the second game at Yankee Stadium last year and just 45,000 this year.

In a short post, the Yanks Fan half of YFSF touched upon this issue as well. How can the Yanks, he writes, justify filling under 80 percent of their brand-spankin’-new ballpark in just its fourth day of life?

The problem boils down to Yankee economics. The Yanks have significantly jacked up the ticket prices while the country suffers through one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. I wonder, though, if the current economy has little to do with it. Rather, I think the Yankees may have simply priced themselves out of the baseball ticket market.

Last year’s ticket prices — available here as a PDF — show expensive but not unreasonable prices. The seats right behind home plate now priced at around $1800 a game used to cost $250 for season-ticket holders and $400 for gameday seats. Tickets that used to cost between $85-$135 for season-ticket packages now cost $325 per seat per game. Those differences are not insignificant in any economy.

As the Yankees play out the season under the current pricing schedule, the team will have to reassess how it prices the best seats in the new stadium. The Yankees want to cater to the riches of the rich, but do those people want to spend their money on the Yanks? It’s hard to say. The team alleges that 80 percent of those seats are sold, but if 80 percent of them remain empty game after game, what benefit do the Yankees get?

For the rest of the year, the team has few options. They can’t lower their prices without spurring on a full-fledged season-ticket holder revolt. They could attempt to put some of these primo seats on StubHub via the ticket site’s auctions to better assess their market value. For now, though, we may have to get used to the shocking and discouraging views of numerous empty seats near the field level while the Grandstand and bleachers remain packed.

Categories : Yankee Stadium

81 Comments»

  1. The seats right behind home plate now priced at around $1800 a game used to cost $250 for season-ticket holders and $400 for gameday seats. Tickets that used to cost between $85-$135 for season-ticket packages now cost $325 per seat per game. Those differences are not insignificant in any economy.

    Well said and true.

    Question is, how much of an increased profit margin is truly necessary to both A) recoup the massive expense the team committed to to build the damn thing and B) make a profit to make the whole thing worthwhile?

    With the bonus the stadium provides simply by being a revenue sharing/luxury tax exception of sorts, I wonder if the team considers cutting all ticket prices sometime (maybe next year) down towards a break even point? Or reduce ticket prices and jack up concessions, using the captive audience phenomenon?

    I doubt they lower prices this year, though. Give it some time for the team to start winning and companies to start to have more confidence and start buying things again and see if those tickets start selling.

    • I doubt they lower prices this year, though. Give it some time for the team to start winning and companies to start to have more confidence and start buying things again and see if those tickets start selling.
      —————————————————————–

      Well said.

    • Chris C. says:

      Let’s be honest here………people who spent the money always knew they were getting ripped off, but now they REALLY know they’re getting ripped off. The Yankees have now made it so abundantly obvious of that being the intention here.

      But with that in mind, the stadium will be filled in August, September, and October, because people won’t mind being ripped off so much then, as the season gains importance.
      But it looks like alot of people are done with being robbed in April.

      And I laugh reading Randy Levine quotes. There’s something sad about the notion that the Yankee team President is a lawyer with no interest in the game of baseball itself. It pretty much typlifies the direction the front office has taken in regards to the fans over the past few years.

      Thank God for Hal Steinbrenner, or this organization would be bordering on unbearable. Call me whatever you want, but imagine Hank Steinbrenner and Randy Levine running the show?

    • Chris C. says:

      “Question is, how much of an increased profit margin is truly necessary to both A) recoup the massive expense the team committed to to build the damn thing and B) make a profit to make the whole thing worthwhile?”

      If this is really the question, and the Yankees only care that the seats are sold, and not that people aren’t physically there watching the team play, then everything out of Steinbrenner’s mouth over the past 35 years about how he’s “doing this and that for the fans”, and “wants to win worse than any other owner because these fans deserve it”, is complete and utter bullshit. There’s just no way around it.

      Everyone wants to win. And everyone wants to make money. But at a certain point, when you’ve made a mega-fortune already, there has to come a point where the longtime supportive fans somehow get factored in as people who matter.
      The Yankees have become a very cold and corporate organization. They always have been, but it’s never been more obvious.

  2. Jake S says:

    I don’t get discouraged when I see those empty seats. Yeah it’d be nice for the stadium to be sold out every day, but I’m tired of the “it’s what the market will bear” excuse for sky-high prices. We’ve finally reached the limit of that.

    • Chris C. says:

      “I don’t get discouraged when I see those empty seats.”

      Why would YOU be discouraged? Empty seats can only amount to a good thing for the fans heading into next year. Unless you want to pay a fortune for tickets, it’s your only hope of possibly catching some price breaks next year.
      Now the Steinbrenner family……THEY should be discouraged!

      “Yeah it’d be nice for the stadium to be sold out every day…”

      No, it wouldn’t. It would be downright aweful!! If that happened, there’d be price hikes next year. Empty seats are the best thing to happen to Yankee fans. The next best thing is short concession lines.

      “but I’m tired of the “it’s what the market will bear” excuse for sky-high prices.”

      That’s not an excuse. That IS the very reason to raise prices. It’s just that in this case, the Yankees got way too bold. They also didn’t count on the recession coming along either.

      • Lanny says:

        the emptys are embarrassing to see on tv. you never see emptys in fenway or wrigley or yankee stad the past decade.

        • Chris C. says:

          You’re NOW embarassed?? The Red Sox and Cubs organizations don’t alienate their fans.

          Over the past 8 years, the Yankees have spent almost double in payroll of what the second highest team has spent, and have no championships to show for it.
          And nobody in the front office, including the GM, has been fired for this. Player developement has been poor, personel decisions have been lackluster, and now they have a manager who doesn’t feel the fans have a right to know why he makes his many questionable decisions.

          But it finally took empty seats to embarass you?

  3. Steve S says:

    I think we might be overlooking something. Aesthetically this isnt the nicest thing but from everything they are saying they have already sold a high amount of season ticket packages and over 3 million tickets for the season, so without knowing their bottom line, the empty seats really only impact the concessions. Plus, they still havent played a night game, Im curious to see how that turns out because its clear their demographic was a corporate/wall street type and while they have been hurt, they are still out there lingering around and they are the ones who will pile in Monday through Friday night.

    • Plus, they still havent played a night game, Im curious to see how that turns out because its clear their demographic was a corporate/wall street type and while they have been hurt, they are still out there lingering around and they are the ones who will pile in Monday through Friday night.

      Good point.

      I’ve got to think those fans would have come out for the weekend games, though, daytime or not.

    • Chris C. says:

      “Plus, they still havent played a night game, Im curious to see how that turns out because its clear their demographic was a corporate/wall street type and while they have been hurt, they are still out there lingering around and they are the ones who will pile in Monday through Friday night.”

      And how many Wall-Streeters do you know these days who are rolling in dough? In April of 2008, it was good to be a Wall-Streeter. Now, alot of those guys are knocking on doors and mass-emailing resumes. And the first people to go in alot of those firms were the very same ones occupying those boxes.
      And they aint making lateral career moves, that’s for sure.

      • A.D. says:

        The ones that are, and thus buying those seats, which the Yankees claim many are sold, probably aren’t leaving work on a weekday afternoon.

        • Chris C. says:

          “The ones that are, and thus buying those seats, which the Yankees claim many are sold, probably aren’t leaving work on a weekday afternoon”

          And what were they doing yesterday and Saturday, mulching their gardens?

          • You beat me to it, Chris. That they have work may explain why Thursday’s and Friday’s games were empty. It doesn’t explain why Saturday — with its sunshine and 70-degree weather — saw an empty stadium or why the seats yesterday looked as they did.

            • Chris C. says:

              Hey look…….this may be the best thing to happen to Yankee fans. For years, the organization was wondering how far fans would go to attend Yankee games. Now they have a pretty good idea. People, in fact, WON’T pay any amount for Yankee tickets.

              But like Steve said, alot of those tickets are already bought, so all they’re losing are a few concession sales.

    • Chris C. says:

      “Aesthetically this isnt the nicest thing but from everything they are saying they have already sold a high amount of season ticket packages and over 3 million tickets for the season, so without knowing their bottom line, the empty seats really only impact the concessions.”

      That is absolutely, 100% correct. And that is why the Yankees aren’t overly bothered by the empty seats.
      But they also signify that the people or companies who’ve bought those empty seats don’t give much of a shit. Not exactly the kind of fans who are gonna provide the noise that gives the home team the edge.

  4. yankeefan91 Arod fan says:

    They cant lower the prices because then the Yankees have to return money to the people that payed for those tickets.

    • jmas12 says:

      Apple did this when they released the iPhone. I believe they initially sold for $599 and after about a month they lowered the price to $499. The people who bought first (the innovators if you have marketing experience) were pretty outraged, and thus Apple issued a $100 credit to the Apple store for each person that bought the phone for $599.

      So conceivably, the Yankees could lower the prices for the lower bowl and refund the people already owning seats in the lower bowl. I don’t think they would do this, but as someone who appreciates home field advantage I’d certainly like to see them do this. Another alternative would be to try and get ticket holders for worse seats to try and upgrade for a reduced price. Then simply sell those seats again, which would be less of a chore. You’d still have to refund the b!tchy millionaires though who bought their seats at full price.

      I think the ultimate problem with this is the realization of what we’ve seen slowly progressing the last few years: true passionate fans who gave the Yankees a home field advantage are getting priced out, and we’re bringing in fans who should be sitting at the opera. Watching the game at home I think I show more excitement when there’s a great play or a homer than alot of the fans I see at the game.

      Now as a finance major I understand the logic a bit for the high prices. A year ago companies like Citigroup, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch would have bought up these seats and given them to employees, important clients, or prospective clients. Now, with alot of these firms accepting government money they can’t. And from the Yankees business prospective at the time, you’re in this to make money, so you price at where the demand is (or in this case where it was at the time). I think the problem with this is that you’re discriminating against your core fanbase, who probably accounts for most of your revenues through television ratings (advertising revenue) and merchandise sales. If you do that, and God forbid the Yankees ever revert to early 90s form, you’re going to have a completely empty ballpark.

      • Chris C. says:

        “Apple did this when they released the iPhone. I believe they initially sold for $599 and after about a month they lowered the price to $499. The people who bought first (the innovators if you have marketing experience) were pretty outraged, and thus Apple issued a $100 credit to the Apple store for each person that bought the phone for $599.”

        I don’t quite understand the hoopla, though. Doesn’t everything decrease in value the longer it’s on the market? I mean, if you wanted to be the first guy on your block with a DVD player, you probably paid more for it than anyone else.
        That’s why people who aren’t impulsive are usually wiser spenders.

        Baseball tickets are different though, so I don’t think you’re making a fair comparison. Tickets are bought early because there’s a fear the specified seating will run out…….also, there are season ticket holders who were offered these prices by the team.
        That’s a bit different than a guy who walks into PC Richard and buys something before manufacturer and store promos kick in.

    • Chris C. says:

      I know…….that’s been covered a million times. I don’t know why people still think there’s a possibility the Yankees will lower prices this year. Maybe because there’s a belief throughout the universe that the Steinbrenner family has balls of steel.

  5. Brendan says:

    I was there on Friday and I was getting pissed off at how quiet the crowd was. Many people just didn’t even seem interested in the game.

    • Chris C. says:

      That’s what happens when you price out the fans who WERE interested in the games. This shouldn’t shock anyone.

    • Matt says:

      That’s the one thing I’ve noticed about the few games there so far; they’ve been incredibly, incredibly quiet.

    • pat says:

      I was there on Friday and I was getting pissed off at how quiet the crowd was. Many people just didn’t even seem interested in the game.

      Day games are usually more quiet by nature, because you get a lot more families and children. I wouldn’t put too much stock into people seemingly not interested in the game. It’s a spankin’ new stadium, people are going to be a little preoccupied already. Once the weather gets nicer and the “newness” of the stadium has worn off people are going to be going buck wild as we are accustomed to.

      Folks, it’s still the same people going to games. There’s not some new subset of affluent yankee fans that has just emerged who’s going to politely golf clap while sipping pinot noir and nibbling on some beluga caviar. Once the stadium stops becoming the main attraction it will be back to normal.

      • Lanny says:

        i’ll give a pass to the crowd the first 15 games just because even hardcore fans are checking out every feature and looking around in awe and not watching every pitch like there life depended on it.

        • Chris C. says:

          “i’ll give a pass to the crowd the first 15 games just because even hardcore fans are checking out every feature and looking around in awe and not watching every pitch like there life depended on it.”

          LMAO!!!! You got it all wrong, chief. The hardcore fans are either watching at home because they’ve been priced out, or are at the stadium hanging on every pitch.
          It’s the transients and rich dudes who are not making any noises. And they aren’t going away, and won’t be getting any louder. And they are now making up the majority of the attendence.
          This is what the Yankees wanted.

      • hamburger helper says:

        One factor I’ve been thinking about lately (and this may also be a factor in the “jet stream” configuration) is the open concourses. There were no avenues in the old stadium for noise to escape – too much concrete under and behind the fans. The sound bounced off the stands and reverberated. Here, you’re going to have more of the sound waves exiting into the concourses and out of the park.

        Sure, it’s not the only factor, and it may not be major, but it’s a factor nonetheless.

      • Chris C. says:

        “Day games are usually more quiet by nature, because you get a lot more families and children.”

        Yes…..the Trump family and the Ebersol family and that other unrecognizable family to the left all decked out in aligator shirts with v-neck sweaters tied around their necks.

      • Chris C. says:

        “Folks, it’s still the same people going to games.”

        I know firsthand that’s complete bullshit. I personally know 5 very vocal Yankee fans who have not and are not going to any games until at least August (3 of them went to an exhibition game, mostly to check the stadium out.)

        And if I know 5 regulars who no longer are regulars, I’m sure alot of other people do too.

  6. A.D. says:

    There’s also something to be said that the Yankees aren’t a guaranteed playoff team. Yes they’re picked by many to win the division, but after not making the playoffs last year, and having a very difficult division, some fans may be waiting to see how the team plays before forking down their hard earned cash.

    • Chris C. says:

      Gosh, now THAT would be fickle.

      They made the playoffs 12 straight years, missed last season, then went out and inked the three biggest stars on the market.

      It has to be the ticket prices, because I can’t think of anything more the Yankees could have done to convince their fans they are making a full-throttle effort to get back to the postseason.

      If it’s money, that’s understandable.
      But do you really think the fans aren’t coming out because the AL East doesn’t totally suck enough to allow the Yankees to walk right through to the playoffs? If so, f*** the fans!

  7. Paulie says:

    Just throwing an idea out…why don’t they do a raffle type thing where they give away some of tickets to the seats that would make the stadium look “fuller”. They would still be making money of the raffle. Obviously they would not raffle off “every” empty seat.

    Just an idea…

  8. Brian says:

    If they auction the tickets on StubHub, I’m going to have to pull the tickets I’m trying to sell over there… Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to go to the game…

  9. jimbo says:

    there are two things that you have to consider here though:

    1) its possible that some of these tickets have been sold but that noone showed up for them, for example rich people that aren’t diehard fans

    2)they are probably still making more money at the new stadium than the old, which will end up putting a better product on the field

    • hamburger helper says:

      1) Most rich folks didn’t get rich by wasting money. If I had spent that much without any intent of attending, I’d resell.

      2) More money != better product. See New York Yankees, circa 2002-Present.

      • Chris C. says:

        “1) Most rich folks didn’t get rich by wasting money.”

        No, they start wasting their money once the interest accrued on the banked dough exceeds the cost of expensive stuff. But on their way to becoming rich, you’re right…….they’re cheap bastards.

        “If I had spent that much without any intent of attending, I’d resell.”

        Why would you spend that much with no intent on attending in the first place? Because you plan on sending clients, that’s why. And if there’s none in town for that game, the seats remain empty.

        “2) More money != better product. See New York Yankees, circa 2002-Present.”

        I can’t tell if this statement is serious or sarcastic.

    • Chris C. says:

      “2)they are probably still making more money at the new stadium than the old, which will end up putting a better product on the field”

      People say this shit all the time, and it’s so untrue. The Yankee payroll has been climbing every year since Steinbrenner bought the team, and the truth is, the team is only as good as the people making the decisions.
      The Yanks have spent over 200 mill on payroll over the past two seasons. So why are there so many damn holes in the team?? Shouldn’t they be making the 1996-2000 Yankee teams look like Little League squads?

      Their payroll is 6 times that of the Rays. Are they 6 times better than the Rays?

  10. Lanny says:

    43,000 my arse. how can they even sell that number? anyone who watched the game on tv or was there is laughing.

    they completely messed up the pricing. even in a good economy this is ridiculous. all the empty seats are an eye sore and embarrassing.

  11. Jesse says:

    What’s worse, they check tickets for every section except the grandstand. I was at Saturday’s game (the 22-4 blowout), and after about the 5th inning, when the place was half empty, we decided to go find somewhere better to sit. Not only did they check our tickets on the field level (which I knew they would), but they also did so on the main level AND again on the terrace.

    Just to repeat: 2/3 the way through a 22-4 blowout when half the people had already gone home, I can’t move down one section to sit in one of the many empty seats. It’s absurd!

    And the “Seat Relocation” gimmick they’re doing? Smacks of desperation to put butts in seats that are empty on tv.

  12. Ari says:

    You said that the team gets nothing if the seats aren’t filled for the game. That’s not true. If the seats have all been sold, I assume to corporate buyers, then the team gets the revenue for the seats whether or not they are filled. What this says to me is that the team no longer gives a damn about their fans, if they ever did, and really only care about their bottom line (by team I mean the organization, obviously, and not the players). They clearly don’t seem to care if the atmosphere isn’t the same, that the energy of a packed house for every game is gone. As long as they make their money. For the first time in my life I’m actually kind of ashamed of the Yankees.

    • Chris C. says:

      “They clearly don’t seem to care if the atmosphere isn’t the same, that the energy of a packed house for every game is gone. As long as they make their money. For the first time in my life I’m actually kind of ashamed of the Yankees.”

      If this is the first time in your life you’ve been ashamed of the Yankees, you must be just getting out of diapers.

      You do realize the team has an owner with a criminal record, don’t you? And he’s the same guy who judges people as to whether they’re “true Yankees, or “warriors”, or “men of integrity”, or some of that other shit he tosses to the media.
      That in itself is a bit humiliating.

  13. hamburger helper says:

    I really don’t care if the Yanks don’t sell those seats. I’m a die-hard fan, but I’m not going to shed a tear if they don’t fill the overpriced seats.

    What really grinds my gears is that this really looks bad for baseball. How does it look to the casual fan who turns on FOX on a Saturday afternoon and sees that the best seats in Yankee Stadium, the home of “the most storied sports franchise,” are empty? It’s bad for baseball – plain and simple.

    • Chris C. says:

      “How does it look to the casual fan who turns on FOX on a Saturday afternoon and sees that the best seats in Yankee Stadium, the home of “the most storied sports franchise,” are empty?”

      Hilarious. That’s how it looks to them.

  14. harold says:

    I bet the Yankees are happy that they can delay tonight’s game till July. I’m sure the attendance will be better for a July doubleheader than it would have been tonight on a cold and wet night (that is if there was a couple hour window to play the game).

    I think the Yankees have got to be really worried about the team playing really well and being in contention all season. Any sort of mediocrity and they can forget about selling any of those seats premium seats during the season even if consumer comes back and the economy starts to come back.

    Could this force them to try make a splash by acquiring a CF or even a corner OF and unload some prospects around deadline time? Or perhaps even earlier?

    • hamburger helper says:

      Well, first off, I’m sure it’ll be a day/night doubleheader, so the only paid attendance bump will be folks more apt to buy tickets to a summer game.

      I’m not sure performance will help attendance in the premium seats. It’s an optimistic thought, though…

      The Yankee front office really needs to get back in touch with their customers. Just sayin’…

      • Chris C. says:

        “The Yankee front office really needs to get back in touch with their customers.”

        They were never in touch with their customers. Now it’s just more obvious.

    • Chris C. says:

      Could this force them to try make a splash by acquiring a CF or even a corner OF and unload some prospects around deadline time? Or perhaps even earlier?

      Yeah, sure……the prospects are the reason they’re losing…….I mean, Teixeira, Matsui, Nady, Wang, Chamberlain, Sabathia, Marte, Damon, Ransom and Veras have been on fire, but the prospects are dragging them down.
      Those vets have been so good, the team should be undefeated!

  15. mustang says:

    I’m happy that these ridiculously over price seats are empty and I hope they stay that way. Its what the Yankees get for basically treating their loyal fan base like shit throughout the relocation process. When the loyal fans cry out about being mistreated many said to bad that’s business. Well nice empty blue seats to bad that’s business.

    • mustang says:

      The best way to protest the high seat prices is to simply not buy them. That ‘s supply and no demand.

      • hamburger helper says:

        …but without the price correction that naturally occurs in a free market, the surplus is just going to remain, and it’s gonna look real ugly. This is where the Yankee Brass’ denial will do them in.

        • mustang says:

          Agree.
          I’m going to Yankees vs. Seattle in Seattle on September 19th. I got 2 Wells Fargo Terrace Club IF seats (their luxury suites) from Stub hub, airfare for 2, and 2-night stay at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel for 2 for MUCH less then one game seat behind home plate at the Stadium.
          That’s just outrageous.

  16. dkidd says:

    randy levine’s only added value was expediting construction permits. now that the stadium is built, can this sleaze ball please fade into the background?

  17. NaOH says:

    “They cant lower the prices because then the Yankees have to return money to the people that payed for those tickets.”

    They most certainly can lower the ticket prices, even if that means giving refunds to those who have already purchased season tickets in those sections. If the decision to do so is based on revenue, it’s a relatively straightforward calculation. Put simply, which is greater:

    The amount of revenue the additional sales (tickets, concessions, merchandise, parking, etc.) would generate minus the amount of money refunded

    or

    The amount of revenue currently being generated.

    “its possible that some of these tickets have been sold but that noone showed up for them, for example rich people that aren’t diehard fans”

    and

    “43,000 my arse. how can they even sell that number? anyone who watched the game on tv or was there is laughing.”

    Attendance figures throughout baseball are calculated based on the number of tickets sold, not the number of people who pass through turnstiles.

    “they completely messed up the pricing. even in a good economy this is ridiculous.”

    Got some revenue and attendance numbers to back that up? Since you declined to provide any, here are some basic calculations to help anyone determine if they “messed up” and if “this is ridiculous.”

    Let’s say that last year they had 2,000 seats at the $250 price. If they sold them out, that’s $500,000 per game. At the current $1,800 price, they only need to sell 278 seats per game to have equal revenue. To look at that another way, that’s an 86% attendance drop for those seats. If the priority is a full house for in-game noise and a filled backdrop on television, then maybe they completely messed up. If the goal is increased revenue, it’s neither clear the team messed up nor that this ridiculous.

  18. januz says:

    I can’t believe all of the hate being expressed towards ticket prices and the new Stadium. The goal should be to bring championships to the Bronx and for the organization to be profitable. I look at the Stadium as a long-term investment that had to accomplish four things: 1: Fix up the errors of the previous refurburshing. This was accomplished with the hand operated scoreboards and facade. 2: Have the kind of clubhouse and eminities that will have players want to come here. Create an economic cash cow that will keep the talent pool streaming towards the Bronx. 4: Benefit the community. This is happening with the Metro North Station and longer term, with the Gateway Mall and new parks. They even worked with the Government to provide the best possible facilities for the disabled, above and beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADC). These were NOT exactly inexpensive items.
    Does this mean everything is perfect? Oh course not. The winds turning the Stadium into a bandbox, must be accounted for, the Old Stadium needs to come down (Hopefully the “Bat” can be brought over to the new Stadium, when the old stadium comes down), the parks need to be finished, and the economy needs to be improved.
    But people need to chill out and let things improve, I have confidence they will, and mostly everyone will be happy with the results.

    • mustang says:

      I’m sorry, but you don’t have to raise a ticket price from $250 to $1800 to accomplish the goals you listed that’s just greed or step on your loyal fan base.
      Next season when they come to their senses after an embarrassing season of empty sections they will lower their price and make it seem like they are being charitable to their fans.
      Meanwhile it will be funny to see them come up with dumb ass excuses for the empty seats.

      • NaOH says:

        I never said they had to raise the ticket prices as they did. I merely pointed out from a financial perspective why they might maintain their current price structure.

        “Meanwhile it will be funny to see them come up with dumb ass excuses for the empty seats.”

        I guess it will be funny if one looks at it that way. Personally, I find it more interesting to follow how companies market themselves in less-than-ideal-situations, especially companies which I think are well run like the Yankees. There are valuable lessons to be learned in such instances. For me, that goes beyond what I feel are puerile, anonymous claims that others’ actions are “dumb ass.”

        Different strokes… I guess.

        • mustang says:

          “The only problem with Levine’s statement is that it’s not true. The Yanks drew over 48,000 for the second game at Yankee Stadium last year and just 45,000 this year. ”

          That’s to back my “puerile, anonymous claims that others’ actions are “dumb ass” and the nice pictures above. The blue things without people seating in them are empty seats by the way. But what do I know I thought this was a baseball blog not a blog about company marketing.
          And yes I enjoy that a giant corporation like the Yankees is taking a small hit after telling some fans that have been filling their pockets for years to take it or leave it.
          I guess they left it. (Just by looking at the blue things)

          • NaOH says:

            Levine’s statement is certainly questionable on the surface, which is how Ben presented it. The article, though, presents the same information but also includes the numbers in terms of percentage of capacity. In that regard, Levine is correct. Combine that with higher ticket prices, and the team would seem to be in a good position moving forward.

            I agree with you that this is a baseball blog, but apparently we see differently the significance of the business aspects of this sport-based entertainment. And I wouldn’t have thought that were the case since you already pointed out, with good reason, “The best way to protest the high seat prices is to simply not buy them. That ’s supply and no demand.”

            I just can’t figure out where you stand, though. On one hand there are business factors which you deem important and relevant, and on another you deride the significance of them. In another instance, you want them to take a hit, and in another you’re saying how you bought tickets to see them.

            And, yes, I know that the blue seats indicates they are empty. But your pointing that out gives the impression that you didn’t understand what I said earlier about how the team may be willing to have reduced attendance if it means greater revenues.

            This is a common business practice. An easy example would be Apple. They make billions more than Dell, but they have far lower sales figures. The same could be said by comparing BMW to General Motors.

            For me, it will be interesting to see how this plays out for the Yankees. Can they maintain these prices? If they have to lower them, what will the new price points be? As we discussed before, how will they market this?

            • Vader says:

              Sodium…I agree with everything you’ve said, however IMO, having several empty seats in the lower bowl of your brand new Stadium is not good for business.

              For a team/business like the Yankees, who sell tradition and branding (Pride, Power, Pinstripes) this can’t be good for business.

              No matter how it is spun…that they are generating the same revenue based on the fact that need to sell less seats to generate the same revenue, which is true…the lay fan/non Yankee fan doesn’t care…they see a half empty lower bowl in a 1.3 billon dollar new Stadium and that allows them to poke fun at your brand…your tradition and that can’t be good for business.

              Also, it is a fact that they may break even with last year’s revenue, they are still losing out on a certain amount of concessions with empty seats, which over an 81 game season adds up to a lot of lost revenue.

              The other big problem with the seat pricing, is that today, people who spend that type of money are not looked at the same way as they were last year or years past, let’s just say…times have changed.

              • NaOH says:

                It’s Sodium Hydroxide, but that’s unimportant.

                You may well be correct that the effect of empty seats on their branding efforts may lead to a future hit. I don’t think I said this anywhere. I was just speculating about one way they may be approaching this situation. Whether or not their current approach remains and whether or not they take a hit in their brand equity are interesting issues about which I look forward to seeing the near-term outcome (1-5 years).

                And, yes, they may have a reduction in other revenues from the decreased attendance (concessions, merchandise, etc.). But I’d caution about presuming that this reduction automatically means an overall decrease. Just as an example, while concessions may be down, parking will be up. And on a whole other level (though it’s all part of the team’s accounting), there is a tremendous write off they now have from repaying stadium financing. On top of that, this debt service reduces the team’s revenue sharing payment.

                I think we can safely assume they have people whose job is to evaluate the best approaches. For the sake of discussion, let’s say they’re going to come out ahead financially. On the flip side, this would seem to jave negative repercussions for plenty of fans. On the whole, I’m not certain if the approach is going to be beneficial in the long run, but I also think it’s a bit early to make any firm assessments.

            • mustang says:

              Well I did buy a lesser plan (fewer games, no opening day and weekdays over weekends) and the price was about the same. However, I was one of the lucky ones who were able to take it rather then leave it.
              I was still angry that I got booted out of my weekend plan. I can’t image how someone who had his or her tickets for 10 years must feel. I’m happy that they are taking a hit, at least publicly, on seats that they sacrificed their loyal fans for.
              I understand your argument, but even in business there is such a things as customer services and loyalty.
              I don’t understand why they couldn’t at least offer a percentage off the prices according to seniority.
              For example:
              5 years 5%
              10 years 10%
              And so on with a cap.

              • NaOH says:

                You’ll never hear me argue against things like customer service. And I do agree that some type of action showing respect for long-time supporters of the team would have been a great move by them, even if only for this first season at the new stadium.

                Now, this is not to defend them, but I’m not surprised they did nothing like this. They’re in a tremendous position right now where the brand (and its accompanying sales power) has never been greater. The economy is worse than most of us have ever seen, yet the Yankees still had 75% of their tickets sold for the season, and this is before they sold any single-game tickets.

                Unfortunately, their behavior really isn’t unusual in sports entertainment nowadays. Yes, the price increases might be greater, but the way they are doing things is no different than what goes on with other teams, whether it’s PSLs for the Jets and Giants or price inflation at Citi Field.

                Believe me, I’m not defending what they (and other teams) have done. I’m simply trying to look at it from their angle as a business looking to generate long-term, high-level profitability. I don’t condone it in any way, but I respect that as their goal since they are in business.

              • Vader says:

                NaOH…I agree with you and I hope I didn’t offend you by only calling you Sodium.

                IMO it just doesn’t look good having the empty seats in the lower bowl of a brand new Stadium and I would rather see them lower the prices, give back the differnce to the people who bought them at the higher costs and get the place back to being a packed house.

                • NaOH says:

                  No offense taken whatsoever.

                  I, too, would prefer to see those seats get filled (and where I live, yesterday’s game was the first I’ve seen on TV), even if that means a refund must be given to the season ticket holders who purchased in the off-season. But looking at things for what they are – namely, that the Yankees are a business with the intention of making profits – I’m not certain we’ll get to see this.

                  Peter Abraham has a blurb up now indicating they may be in the process of re-evaluating things. Even if they do, I’m confident the team will make an adjustment because they’ve determined a different approach that will still yield the desired level of profitability.

                • Vader says:

                  It will be interesting to see what they do…if they do anything.

  19. Capital T says:

    “the country suffers through one the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression”

    While I agree the seats are over priced, we are not suffering through one of the worst donturns since the depression. The 70s and the gas crises was worse as were the post Carter/Early Reagan years of double digit unemployment and inflation.

    That aside, I wonder if the increase in seat prices is making up for the lower attendance and the Yankees are making more money.
    I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • You’ve managed to name a whopping one economic downturn since the Great Depression that may or may not have been worse than the current. As far as I’m concerned that still makes this one, as I said in the post, one of the worst since the Depression. I didn’t say it was the worst, just one of them.

      • LiveFromNewYork says:

        It is one of the worst. There is some evidence that the 70s recession was worst but this is right up there.

  20. LiveFromNewYork says:

    I’ve had season tickets for about 10 years now and I have had years (including this past one) where I struggle to make the payments in January (right after the holidays). Why jack prices from $250 a game to $1800? I think that’s pretty outrageous even in a good economy and I’m one of the few who didn’t have a lot of complaints during the relocation process. I think they should move all ticket holders to better seats and open up the empty ones that are NOW in the outfield to new signers. Never happen, I know but the empty seats are redic.

    • mustang says:

      I hear what your saying, but it will never happen. I been a plan holder for 5 years and I managed a lesser plan this year, but next year if I don’t get what i want I’m done. I think what they did to you guys 10 years and up is down right disgraceful.

      • LiveFromNewYork says:

        Thanks. I was somewhat disappointed in my seats this year but just glad I stayed in the general vicinity up a level and a bit further out. But seeing how empty the lower levels are, I don’t think a lot of us that got pushed out (which is most of us) really had to be pushed out. And some didn’t get tickets at all.

  21. Bern Baby Bern says:

    Given the fact that the Yankees have sold 80%+ of these seats, as others have recognized, it’s apparent that some ticket holders aren’t attending.

    I think it plausible that some may have decided not to use their tickets. Once the ticket prices attracted a substantial amount of attention, one of the issues became “who would pay so much for baseball tickets?” In light of the populist backlash against “the rich,” it might be the case that companies and/or individuals became concerned about the attention occupying those seats might attract. Such concerns might have increased substantially when the AIG bonus furor struck. It seems to me a possibility that a financial company receiving federal stimulus money for example would make an internal decision to forego using their tickets (or even making them available for others to use).

    Just a theory.

  22. Januz says:

    I think that people are overlooking a very important point. It was the projected revenue streams that allowed them to sign Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett. I did not see any complaining during the offseason about that. I can guarantee that because of that, and the lack of quality players available, you will not see that again.
    I am waiting to see how much money is spent on the draft and international free agents? I bet it will be way down this year. And if it is, I wonder how many of the same critics of tickets and the stadium will be complaining about that?

    • I think that people are overlooking a very important point. It was the projected revenue streams that allowed them to sign Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett.

      Bullshit, and I’m going to call you out on that.

      Have you missed the various posts we’ve written about how the Yanks’ 2009 payroll is nearly identical to that of 2008? It wasn’t the projected additional revenue streams that allowed them to sign those three. It was the massive amounts of money coming off the books that allowed them to keep payroll constant.

      Had the projected revenue streams actually contributed to a potential increase in payroll, they could have gone after Manny as well, but the Yanks made it quite clear they were done after Teixeira. That’s a strawman argument you’re trying to make there.

      • mustang says:

        Totally agree.

      • Will says:

        Bullshitx2.

        One thing the Yankees have this year that they didn’t have last year is over $1bn in debt to service. Even though some of that caost will be deducted from revenue sharing payments, many estimates peg that savings as about $0.40 on the dollar. In other words, the debt service is still much larger than the reduced revenue sharing bill.

        The bottom line is if you want to complain about ticket prices, you’d better not be at the forefront of the “Yankees should sign everyone” brigade. Already, obtaining Holliday has been mentioned on this blog, so I find it hypocritical that you have been such an advocate for lower ticket prices.

        • You should probably read the post on Holliday a little closer. I’m not advocating for Holliday. I’m saying the Yanks will consider it. That’s a big difference.

          In fact, I’d rather the Yanks not sign Holliday, but that’s not the way they operate.

          That debt service number, by the way, did you just make it up or do you have an actual source for it?

          • Will says:

            If you think the Yankees should forgo adding players they can afford, that’s fine then. Your position is consistent. I have a feeling most fans are not as altruistic. The bottom line, however, is that if we enjoy the $210mn payroll + luxury tax (which isn’t impacted by revenue sharing deductions), we shouldn’t be so quick to complain about the Yankees chasing the almighty dollar.

            As for whether I made up the debt figure, in 2006, the NYC Industrial Development Authority sold $941 million of bonds for the Yankees. On January 16 of this year, the Yankees were granted another $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds, bringing the grand total of more than $1.3bn in debt that the Yankees must pay back. I think a quick Google search should display numerous sources for these figures.

  23. [...] a few posts about the empty seats at Yankee Stadium, a few media outlets larger than RAB has picked up the story. As such, I’m [...]

  24. WHY DO YOU KEEP WRITING POSTS THAT OTHER PEOPLE FIND INTERESTING AND WANT TO TALK ABOUT BUT I DON’T FIND INTERESTING AND DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT!!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?

    YOU RAB SOCIALISTS MAKE ME SO MAD YOU MAKE ME WANT TO STOP READING THIS AWESOME BLOG THAT YOU USE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION AND GOOD DISCUSSION POINTS TO ME NUMEROUS TIMES A DAY AT ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONAL COST TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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