Yesterday afternoon, I dropped in a story about the impending sale of Yankee Stadium memorabilia. After nearly a year of negotiations, the City and Yanks had come to terms on an $11.5-million deal that transfers memorabilia rights to the team. At 11 a.m., the Yankees and Steiner Sports will announce the terms of the sale.
We though know the prices are going to be shocking. Yesterday, reports indicated that seats — the blue plastic seats that always seemed to be falling apart — would sell for around $1500. Today, The Times offers us a correction. “The Yankees,” Ken Belson writes, “are selling pairs of seats for $1,923, a nod to the year the original Yankee Stadium opened.”
As a comparison, the seats from Shea Stadium were offered up at $869 a pair. The Mets weren’t able to sell all of them, and now the Yankees are going to try to sell theirs for more than twice that amount in a worse market. I, a lifelong fan of the team, could go out and buy a pair of seats from the old stadium or I could pay this month’s rent and credit card bill.
As they’ve done across the street, the Yankees are pricing these seats well above the level most fans would consider paying for them. My dad owns a seat from the original Yankee Stadium. He got it because his mother bought two cartons of cigarettes and paid $7.50 for it. At $1923 for those Yankee Stadium II seats, I can only imagine how much the Monument Park bricks are going to cost.
Meanwhile, another seat pricing issue has continued to be a thorn in the Yankees’ side. Yankees season-ticket holder Keith Olbermann did what many reporters and bloggers didn’t do: He read and parsed the Yanks’ cryptic press release on the refunds for the über-expensive seats that remain empty. He writes:
As it is, the Yankees are actually not giving refunds or credits to almost any of their fans. A Yankee source did say that as many as four ticket-buyers – literally, four customers, in the suites hanging from the upper deck in left and right fields – would wind up with some extra perks. But the source added they weren’t certain: it might only be three customers.
The understandable confusion seems to owe to the first subheading… It reads “the full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 will be reduced from $2,500 to $1,250 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.”
The thing is, sections 15A and 15B are at the far end of the Yankee dugout – most are behind the camera well beyond the dugout – and sections 24B and 25 are their opposites behind the visiting dugout…I’m reliably informed that the Yankees didn’t manage to sell any of those seats, so there’s no refund to be had. Reality here reads like something out of “Catch-22″: you can get a refund on those tickets, but only if you haven’t bought them. And you can now buy many of those high-end tickets at half the original price, except you can’t, because the Yankees gave them away as make-goods…
But there was a certain apparent inequity to the way the Yankee ticket adjustment was framed – an inequity caused mostly by that blasted press release – that the franchise didn’t deserve. It was not offering a fifty percent rebate to the highest of the high rollers, and a token handful of tickets to the next group down. It was giving the people who did buy tickets, all the rest of the tickets that nobody had bought.
The Yankees refused to comment for a Times reporter poking around this story. “We’re kind of done talking about this,” Alice McGillion, a spokeswoman for the team, said to Ken Belons. “I have no idea if it’s true, and it’s not the kind of question I’m going to go ask about.”
I too am “reliably informed” that the Yankees didn’t manage to sell those seats to which Olbermann refers. I’ve been to two regular season games, I’ve received e-mails with pictures and first-hand accounts from fans at other games, and I’ve watched nearly every home game on TV. Every time, those seats are mentioned are completely devoid of fans.
So again, the Yankees are seemingly thumbing their noises at, well, everyone. George Steinbrenner got his stadium and lost his health and team. We’re living an era in which Yankee officials want power and money without realizing that the fans give them both. These prices — $1923 for old seats and a phony refund/discount program — are the proof that the men in charge do not recognize what George, despite his flaws, always knew: The customer — the Yankee fan — should be respected.