Apr
03

On the economics of Yankee Stadium

By

The grass sure was greener a few years ago, Hal Steinbrenner reminded us all yesterday. As the Yankees took the field at their multi-billion-dollar home for the first time, the Yanks’ managing general partner and co-chairperson opined on the state of ticket sales. Perhaps, he said, the Yanks had priced themselves away from reality.

“I think if anybody in any business had known where the economy was going to go, they would have done things differently,” Hal Steinbrenner, in his first public comments of the spring, said Thursday afternoon. “There’s no doubt that small amounts of our tickets might be overpriced.”

According to the the youngest Steinbrenner son, the team has sold 35,000 season ticket equivalents, and they are anticipating well over four million fans again this year. The sticking point, however, are the Legends seats that cost $2500 per ticket per game. As this graphic by a RAB regular shows, the top tickets at Yankee Stadium are going for nearly four times as much as the next highest ticket in Major League Baseball.

In a way, though, that’s exactly why the Yankees built the new park. When they unveiled plans for the new Yankee Stadium, the economy was flying high, and the luxury-box and amenity-less old stadium wasn’t maximizing the Yankee revenue potential. As George Vecsey writes, rather cynically, in today’s Times, “The main goal became turning ballparks into resorts, land cruises designed for A.I.G.-bonus-recipient wallets, the games lasting long enough to wring more twenties and hundreds out of the faithful.”

In a similar column, Harvey Araton rehases the costs — both fiscal, political and communal — of the new Yankee Stadium. It all comes off sounding like a relic of our old economy. The Yankees’ new home is spectacular and huge and flashy. It features an insanely large TV screen and $9 cans of PBR. It is defying the economic reality of 2009.

The great thing is though that it doesn’t matter. The Yankees have, since the 1920s when they moved into Yankee Stadium and opened the first ballpark in baseball to earn the moniker of “stadium,” been the gaudiest and most ostentatious team. They’ve also been the most successful, and in a few years, the economy will catch up to the Yankees’ rich ways.

For now, though, the team is stuck with unsold and overpriced tickets. They can’t lower the prices without spurring on a revolution from the ticket holders rich — or foolish — enough to buy the tickets. The team will just have to settle for that reality right now.

“We understand that a lot of our fans are struggling. I mean, this is the worst recession in a most of our lifetimes,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “But at the same time I think baseball has always been an escape for people, you know? And I think what we’re going to provide here is an unbelievable experience for thousands and thousands of our fans that, despite the troubles they’re going through right now, maybe they’ll be able to get away for two or three hours, get their minds off things. And we’re going to make that experience, you know, tremendous.”

Categories : Yankee Stadium
  • Drew

    I don’t know if that graphic of the ticket prices is funny or horrifying. I literally held the right arrow down for over 10 seconds. Even though it was a little off on the yankee ticket price minimum, the graphic is very telling.
    It brings to mind a seinfeld episode where the big Stein say’s, [I'm gonna go scalp some tickets. (babbles to George) How much ya think I can get for the owner's box? gotta be worth 50 bucks.] Perhaps Hal or Hank will be out in front of our new mammoth of a ball park scalping those left over tickets.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Lunar shuttle tickets, lunar shuttle tickets! $400, lunar shuttle tickets, I got smokin’, non-smokin’, first class, coach, by the window, by the aisle. Hey, thanks my man. Lunar shuttle tickets, lunar shuttle tickets!

  • Rich

    The Yankees’ disappointing upper end ticket sales demonstrate that even very rich people can be impacted by an underperforminig economy of historic proportions.

    Not that the Steinbrenners or the Yankees won’t be able to endure, or even flourish, during this downturn, but their bottom line apparently won’t be quite as impressive as they had anticipated.

    It will be interesting to see if that affects their in season spending as the trading deadline approaches.

    • Drew

      I agree with all of that. I think their biggest loss was the corporations(AIG, BOA… fill in failures here,) and even the smaller businesses that would romance a potential client by taking them to a game in ridiculous seats. As for the corporations, buying 6 $2500 seats would be frowned upon as much as a ginormous bonus. As for the smaller businesses, they just can’t afford it..

      • El Generalissimo

        Drew, you hit the nail on the head… that’s the main problem. There aren’t as many I-Banks, law firms and businesses period, let alone ones who could spend money on tickets without being outed by that loser Barney Frank at this point.

        And that’s where the drought comes from… it’ll make itself up in time.

        Most likely scenario is the tickets showing up on stubhub and other 3rd party vendors, where they can price them cheaper and say stubhub can price the tix however they want, but really be cutting deals.

        Either way 35K full season plans, means 17K seats available on any given game, not even including all the partial plans… they did a really good job even in the shitty economy.

        • Chris C.

          “Most likely scenario is the tickets showing up on stubhub and other 3rd party vendors, where they can price them cheaper and say stubhub can price the tix however they want, but really be cutting deals.”

          The Yankees are NOT going to adjust the ticket prices in that way. People are not stupid. If they paid full price, they’d know damn well that the Yankees cut a deal with Stub Hub to reduce the price while they’re paying in full. They can say that “stub Hub or 3rd part evendors can sell the tickets for any price they want”, but that’s not true. They must sell them for more than what they paid, or they’d be out of business. So there’s the smoking gun that they just hawked them to the third party vendor for low prices, while sticking it to their regular direct customers. Now, I wouldn’t put it by them to do this……..Yankee arrogance and greed knows no bounds. But boy, would that be shitty!

          Either way 35K full season plans, means 17K seats available on any given game, not even including all the partial plans… they did a really good job even in the shitty economy.

          Yup……the Yankees have proven that even in a shitty economy, it is possible to screw over your long time fans.

  • J

    The Yankees were placed in a no-win situation. They essentially had three options: 1: Stay at the old stadium as is. 2: Build a stadium on the cheap (Like the Cardinals, who did not complete Ballpark Village). 3: The approach they did now.
    I am a person who believe they took the right approach: The only thing that can be a guide is history. During the Great Depression is when architectual marvels like the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall were created. There is no one today that would not deem then successes, I would bet that in the 30s, many, if not most people would have considered them a waste of money. The moral of course, is if something is DONE RIGHT then it is worth it. From everything I see online, and on TV, and from what I read, the Stadium is spectactualar. There was a very high bar set, and it has not only been reached, but surpassed.
    Is the economy in brutal shape? Of course it is (I did Mortgage Banking for a living so I understand this all too well). But, what the Yankees did with with this Stadium is correct the mistakes of the 70s renovation, and essentially recreate the 1920s blueprint. What was also done right, is the area around the Stadium is improved: Metro-North Station, fixed roads, incoming Gateway Center, Bronx Courthouse, and fixing up the Grand Concourse come to mind . Even the park issue will eventually go away (It tells me something that when even Community Board 4′s Parks Committee was impressed with the first of the new parks, the the odds are, the future parks likely will be nothing but first class, which will benefit the entire community, and even improve land values).
    Finally, this combination of things done right will help the team, improve the community, and silence MANY of the critics (All they have left is the old class warfare argument). For that the Yankees and the City deserve grades of A+.

    • steve (different one)

      Januz, how do you feel about the new stadium?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        IETC.

        (Was it the parentheticals, the numbered bulletpoint organization, the rambling tangents, or just the general tone of the piece that gave it away? Or was it the ever-so-not-clever name change to simply “J” that tipped you off? Should he have called himself “NotJanuz”, would that have worked?)

        • steve (different one)

          to be fair, i will guess that he just hit the button too soon.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Hit the button too soon? My name remains auto-typed into the name field, doesn’t yours? (You don’t think I’d honestly retype tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside every time, do you?)

            Unless Januz is using Netscape Navigator v. 4.0, I think his name is probably taken care of for him, which would mean the name change was intentionally done.

            • Mike Pop

              OR…he clears his history cause he doesn’t want his wife to find out.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                Heh.

                Mrs. Januz: Honey, are you rambling on and on about how evil the Village Voice is on that stupid Yankees page again?
                Januz: Uh, no, dear, just, uh, checking our stock quotes!
                Mrs. Januz: We don’t own any stock! GET OFF THAT COMPUTER!

                … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!!!

            • steve (different one)

              just trying to throw the guy a bone…i just think there was absolutely no way this was going to fool anyone, so it seemed somewhat logical that it was an accident.

              • Januz

                Hello Steve it was an accident. As I am sure you can tell I am 100% for the new stadium and it is beyond my expectations.

    • Chris C.

      “The Yankees were placed in a no-win situation.”

      Yeah, they were virtually broke…..they had to do something!
      Obviously a post from a man who didn’t have his season tickets swiped out for some crap seats in upper deck right.
      It’s the people who barely spend any money on their fandom who seem to think the Yankees did everything right.

      “The moral of course, is if something is DONE RIGHT then it is worth it.”

      And when it is done with interest-free, taxpayer-subsidized bonds, it is ALWAYS worth it!

      “Finally, this combination of things done right will help the team, improve the community, and silence MANY of the critics”

      What critics? You mean the ones who are complaining about the Yankees excessive borrowing in a brutal economy, while getting their taxes waived in leiu of a slow pay-back period regarding the bonds? Yeah, what a bunch of fusspots!

      “What was also done right, is the area around the Stadium is improved: Metro-North Station, fixed roads, incoming Gateway Center, Bronx Courthouse, and fixing up the Grand Concourse come to mind . Even the park issue will eventually go away (It tells me something that when even Community Board 4’s Parks Committee was impressed with the first of the new parks, the the odds are, the future parks likely will be nothing but first class, which will benefit the entire community, and even improve land values).”

      Wow! We should build a new ballpark every year, in every town then!

  • MurrayPresent

    Even if I was rich I think that 2500 is too much for a baseball ticket. I wish they had allowed for regular season ticket holder fans to keep the closest equivalent to their old seats instead of concentrating on the luxury boxes. Anyone who can and will spend 2500 a pop isn’t going all season. I can’t wait to see the new Stadium though. Missteps were bound to happen and I hope that time will shake it all out.

    • steve (different one)

      yeah, i think the pricing structure will fix itself next season. the yankees will lower prices or the economy will rebound and people will by the tickets. the equilibrium will be found. the yankees got screwed a little b/c they announced their pricing before the economy tanked and you can’t lower prices when you’ve already sold a ton of packages. there would be a revolt, or you’d have to issue massive refunds.

      believe it or now, the yankees are showing in little ways that they are receptive to the fans. changing the policy in the bleachers, lowering those obstructed view seats to $5, changing their (dumb) rule about letting fans into the lower level concourse, and now Hal acknowleging that they will have to lower prices in the future.

      i think you are still allowed to bring outside food into the stadium as well, which is something they probably could have disallowed if they really wanted to be greedy.

      the bottom line is that there are a ton of affordable tickets out there. and if the early reports that there are almost no bad seats anywhere are true, then those grandstand seats are going to be a great deal.

      can’t wait to get out there.

      • jsbrendog

        believe it or now, the yankees are showing in little ways that they are receptive to the fans by reading RAB and agreeing to bat jeter leadoff.

        fixed (without all the technical html stuff cause im lazy and dont feel like learnin mahseff how to do it)

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          http://htmlhelp.com/reference/.....trike.html

          It’s super easy, dude. Learn yourself something.

          Like I always say, if you catch a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach that man how to fish, you can have sex with his wife while he’s out fishing.

          • jsbrendog

            well said. well said. would you mind watching my wife while i go html-ing?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Sure. Is she hot? No fat chicks…

      • Chris C.

        “the yankees got screwed a little b/c they announced their pricing before the economy tanked and you can’t lower prices when you’ve already sold a ton of packages. there would be a revolt, or you’d have to issue massive refunds.”

        You are exactly right on this.
        That is, except for the notion that with the economy in the shithole, and people losing their jobs or taking paycuts or being forced into unpaid vacation, it’s the Yankees who got screwed.
        And don’t you worry…….any screwing that took place to the Yankees was quickly passed on to their loyal, long-time, season ticket-holding fans.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Anyone who can and will spend 2500 a pop isn’t going all season.

      Is that based on any evidence, or is that just some guess of yours that fits your preconceived narrative so you’re not going to bother to investigate it’s validity, you’re just going to speculate it from thin air and then treat it as gospel truth?

      • jsbrendog

        duh, obviously the richer you get the less passionate you are about anything, especially sports. i mean, show me a millionaire/billionaire that would actually go to every game. Obv everyone is like mark cuban and george stienbrenner and doesnt give a shit about sports

        • Chris C.

          Steinbrenner doesn’t give a shit about sports. He gives a shit about making money. You think he felt the need to build this new stadium because of his love for baseball?

    • Chris C.

      “Even if I was rich I think that 2500 is too much for a baseball ticket. I wish they had allowed for regular season ticket holder fans to keep the closest equivalent to their old seats instead of concentrating on the luxury boxes.”

      When you go to the new stadium and see a man sitting in the upper deck in right, just know that once upon a time he had a box so close to the field that Mattingly could grab his popcorn.

  • Januz

    I cannot stress how happy I am with everything involving the Stadium, including the truth finally coming out about the park issue: Look at this quote from Yankee HATER Joyce Hagi in the Village Voice. “In another two years, the city promises, there will be new parks, some taking the place of the old stadium, with others dispersed to the Harlem River waterfront. All the subsidies and lost years of park use and other inconveniences aside, Hogi was asked, could the Bronx at least end up with nicer facilities in the end, even if not quite the ones they’d grown to love? “We’re hoping what we get is much nicer than what we had, because they were not maintaining what we had,” she said. “Their presentations to us were beautiful. If they build what they say they will build, things will be much further away — especially the tennis courts — but it’ll be lovely. If they do what they say they’re going to do…..” http://www.villagevoice.com. Note the quote: “because they were not maintaining what we had” When you heard the Luddities from Community Board 4 being “Outraged” about poverty, and tearing down parks, you would have thought Central Park was being razed, and the world would end, instead of poorly maintained facilities, that needed to be replaced. The reality of the matter is this issue was NEVER about parks and the community, it was about stopping rising property values (Which the Stadium and Gateway will cause to happen, and of course, would force certain people to have to move),and the opposition to new construction because of traffic and noise pollution (Including oddly enough NEW PARK FACILITIES).
    In the end, it may take time but almost everyone will benefit execpt the professional troublemakers like Hagi, local criminals,and a few long time residents. 99% of the rest of us, win.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      All of this is batshit insane.

      • jsbrendog

        stop taunting the monkeys

  • jeremy

    Am I the only one who could buy PBR, Schaeffer, or Schlitz (all offered at the stadium for $9 a piece) in college for $6 for a six-pack of pounders in college? I mean seriously. There were a couple of photos of concessions at the stadium that I saw yesterday where Stella was being sold for $8.50, along with a host of other premium, and semi-premium brews.

    I’m just sayin’.

    • pat

      Captive audience.

    • Raf

      i used to get PBR and Schaeffer for $6 for a 12 a couple of years ago in the Bronx.

    • steve (different one)

      this is what Abraham said:

      Noticed that the concession stands not only have prices on the boards, but calories. Surely it will hurt sales. However, I noticed that beer is $6 for a regular cup and $9 for the souvenir. Good prices.

      so…12 OZ beers will be $6. 16 OZ (or is that 20 OZ?) will go for $9.

      that’s really not bad at all.

      figure you pay $5 for 12 OZ bottles anywhere in manhattan…

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        (Pssst… Hey Pete: The calories are listed on the wall because it’s a New York City LAW that you have to list the calories on the wall. Doesn’t matter whether or not it will “hurt sales”, the team’s hands were tied. They have to list the calories. No choice in the matter.

        What would really “hurt sales” is not listing the calories on the wall and having the city come shut down all the concession booths.)

      • Chris C.

        Noticed that the concession stands not only have prices on the boards, but calories. Surely it will hurt sales.

        Yeah, I can just imagine the Yankee front office calling a late meeting on this:

        Hank: “I’m really concerned about the health of our fans. I mean, if they die, we can’t take their money anymore! I think we need to inform them of the ramifications the shit we sell can do to their bodies. Sure, we may take a financial hit up front, but we’ll be able to take their money, higher amounts of it, for many extra years!

        Cashman: “Uh boss? We are required by law to list the calories.”

        Hank: “Okay, then it’s done……we add the sign.”

    • donttradecano

      who would pay $350 for a nationals game?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        who would pay $350 for a nationals game?

        George W. Bush. He’d just leave it off the initial budget calculations so that the proposed price doesn’t look so bad.

        http://www.instantrimshot.com

        • jsbrendog

          why doesnt he buy the nationals? then he can have a rampant steroid abusing offensive force with no pitching like the rangers when he owned them…wait, whats that you say? thats the ranger’s now too? hmm, maybe he should just byu the rangers

    • jsbrendog

      i think i can still get a 12 pack of the best cheap beer at pathmark for 6.50

  • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leo

    I think the $350 seats are what should be highlighted to show the extravagance of what was built.

    Yes, $2500 (what they cost in a season plan) is obscene but there are very few tickets for that price and those tickets were always ridiculously priced. The seats that are $350 now were more like $150 last year and there are a lot of them. When the Yankees unveiled the pricing scheme they are what everyone really locked onto the team going overboard (and I don’t think it’s just because of the economy that they couldn’t move all of them).

  • MattG

    They could:

    1. lower ticket prices
    2. issue anyone that already purchased a season plan a discount card on concessions.

    They’d make out. People would just buy more concessions, and I think they would accept the compromise.

    • harold

      also, there is a secondary market for these tickets, so in addition to discount packages, they could theoretically buy their own tickets, put them on stubhub, craigslist, and such, and try to get as much as possible

      i agree you’ll see some discount packages and everything. the thing about a discount card on concessions is that food and non-booze drinks are all-inclusive for the legends seats, so it wouldn’t help there

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        the thing about a discount card on concessions is that food and non-booze drinks are all-inclusive for the legends seats, so it wouldn’t help there.

        What if they were to throw in a complimentary dead-hooker-disappearing service? Would that sweeten the pot?

  • http://newstadiuminsider.com Ross

    Hey – the $9 cans of PBR are “retro”

    http://newstadiuminsider.blogs.....l-boy.html

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      So retro that, four years ago in college, we could jet down to Delaware and get a 30-pack of cans for $11.

    • steve (different one)

      wait, the $9 PBRs are 24 OZ’s? and people are poking fun of that?

      that’s 2 beers for $9.

      i know it’s BS hipster-pretending-PBR-is-good-when-it-really-tastes-like-ass beer, but that’s a hell of a deal, no?

      • jsbrendog

        whoa whoa whoa i am far from hipster, and i truly enjoy the taste of pbr much muhc more than any coors/miller product and any bud product other than busch which i think is much better than bud.

        obv none of these compare to red hook, selec types of sam adams, sierra nevada, dogfish head, etc but for what pbr is it is one of the best.

        • steve (different one)

          no offense intended.

          but there is certainly a huge contingent of people in NY/Brooklyn who drink PBR/Rheingold “ironically”.

          • jsbrendog

            my god rheingold is by far the WORST BEER i have ever had inmy entire life and believe me i try to try at least 2-3 diff kinds of beer I never have every month.

            I cannot believe anyone would say they enjoy rheingold. just the name makes me want to vomit. my god. im having rheingold flashbacks….ahhh

          • jsbrendog

            but yes i do agree with you, just saying, its like the “ppl who have 2500 a seat wouldnt go for the whole season anyway” argument. theres always exceptions. in the case of the pbr hipsters, id be that exception

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            but there is certainly a huge contingent of people in NY/Brooklyn who drink PBR/Rheingold “ironically”.

            What’s the American equivalent of “Eurotrash”? “Ameritrash”?

            Because that’s the best name for the people you’re describing: Pseudo-detached “slumming” for ironic others-mocking purposes people. “Ameritrash”.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

              There’s a joint in the Chelsea area called Trailer Park. They serve tots and PBR.

              FWIW, PBR >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Budweiser.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                See, I like “Ameritrash” because it’s egalitarian. It’s not “white trash”, a term/concept that’s something wholly different and much more inherently racist. “Ameritrash” is universal; whites/blacks/Latinos/Asians/etc. can all be Ameritrash if they’ve got the right mix of annoying hipster douchebaggery and ridiculous self-obsessed pretentious snobbery.

                And yes, PBR >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Budweiser.

      • Mike Pop

        You get PBR’s for a dollar where I live. Lol, my buddy is like I love the PBR’s, and I just facepalm. If you drink PBR by choice…..

      • jeremy

        If that’s the case, then I want it wrapped in a brown paper bag, for some real “retro” feel.

        24oz. beers at a sporting event?

        Guy in the UD to his friend after his 3rd PBR:

        “Bet you if I stand on my seatback I can hang off the frieze…”

        • jsbrendog

          yeah i went to a concert at the paradise in boston where they had $3 24 oz pbrs….i forget who played. or what they played. or who was there….

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

            Or how you got home. Or what her name was.

            • Jack

              Or how you got home. Or what his name was.

              • jsbrendog

                jack. you gave me your number and your card. how could i forget.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  And when it’s all over, say, “Oooooh, what a lovely tea party.”

                • Mike Pop

                  You were really going to do it?

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