Jun
15

Musings on the Subway Series attendance

By

By all accounts, the Yankees had a very successful weekend at the gate. They averaged 47,988 fans per game and drew 143,966 over the weekend. Those figures represent the highest three-day total and best three-game average in the short history of new Yankee Stadium.

Yet, as the Subway Series unfolded, I couldn’t help but think about the 21,000 fans who didn’t get to see the Mets and Yankees in person this weekend. Prior to this weekend, the Yankees and Mets were averaging around 55,522 fans per Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium. Just once — a make-up game on a Sunday in June 2004 — did the teams fail to draw at least 54,978 fans.

On its surface, the low attendance numbers aren’t surprising. After all, new Yankee Stadium has a capacity that is 4500 seats fewer than the ballpark across the street did. What is surprising though is that the three games against the Mets weren’t up to that capacity. The Yankees didn’t draw the 52,325 fans they claim can fit into the new stadium, and even omitting the 2000 standing room-only tickets, they weren’t even within 2,000 fans of the 50,325 non-SRO capacity crowd.

Prior to the weekend showdown, Mark Feinsand published a short piece on this very issue. He wrote:

Through the first 29 games in the Bronx, the Yankees have had only one sellout in their new $1.5 billion palace, all the way back on Opening Day. Last season the Yankees sold out 58 of their 81 home games. Even that crowd was announced at 48,271, well short of the stadium’s listed capacity of 52,325. The team said that the remainder of the tickets had been given out as comps, so they didn’t count toward the official total…

“Since the price was dropped, sales have been good, combined with the fact the team has won,” a person familiar with the Yankees’ ticket sales said. “Sales have gotten better day to day. It (the price reductions) did work. Plus, the team is winning and that helps.”

The person added that 88% of all seats available to be sold for the entire season have been sold, though the remaining 12% presumably include many of the most expensive seats. Still, if Yankees-Mets can’t bring a full house, what series can?

The real issue remains, of course, the high-priced tickets. The Yanks won’t hit a capacity crowd until all of the luxury suites and all of the Legends Suites tickets are accounted for. We’re still waiting for that day to come this year, and if I had to bet, I’d put money those seats costing less next year.

For now, the Yankees continue on in the economic experiment in sports ticketing that is new Yankee Stadium. The seats for key series will be empty, and those of us who didn’t have the chance to buy tickets will just have to live with the jarring sight of empty Yankee Stadium seats when the Mets (and Red Sox) are in town.

Categories : Yankee Stadium

66 Comments»

  1. Nady Nation says:

    I was thinking about this over the weekend. Is it possible that playoff games at the Stadium will not sell out this year (assuming the team makes it)? If the Yankees increase the prices of premium seats for the postseason, which they usually do for all sections in the playoffs, will people pony up the cash just b/c it’s a playoff game? Even if they kept prices the same for the Legends seats, it’s still an awful lot of money to spend on a ballgame in this economy. I’d truly hate for the Stadium not to be filled to capacity in October.

  2. JP says:

    Feinsand said: “…Still, if Yankees-Mets can’t bring a full house, what series can?”

    Am I the only person who could care less about a Yankees-Mets regular season series? I mean, I don’t care about it any more than any other ordinary game. Who cares about playing national league teams. In fact, I hate interleague play, and if anything I dislike the “Subway Series” and all the manufactured hype surrounding it.

    • A.D. says:

      Yeah I gotta say, I’m not huge into the “rivalry” of the subway series.

      That said it should sell out because you’re vastly increasing the number of fans in the area that want to see the teams in the ballpark play.

    • Jake H says:

      I’m tired of playing the Met’s every year twice. Boring!

      • What’s more boring, playing the Mets twice every year, or playing the Mariners, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, etc. twice every year?

        How is interleague any more “boring” than non-division intraleague? Playing the Nationals or the White Sox has something in common – they’re both totally arbitrary. At least the Mets is a natural rivalry.

    • yankeegirl49 says:

      You are not alone JP. I didn’t go this weekend, when tix went onsale and everyone was grabbing the Met series, I was getting tix to all the other games I wanted to go to. Its a game like any other to me.

    • Well, sure. The hype is boring. Interleague play is played out. But the Subway Series games are not unpopular. They guaranteed sell out crowds at both Yankee and Shea Stadiums. Now, they don’t.

      • Brian says:

        Interleague play is not played out at all. Despite the players not digging it, the interleague matchups remain the highest attendance draw during the regular season. This seems to include even the non-geographic rivalry matchups.

        That said, I do not remotely consider the Mets a rival. They are no more than a pesky fly that occasionally needs to be swatted away.

    • Drew says:

      You’re not the only person, but you may be in the minority. Whether it is mid-season interleague play or the World Series, Yanks-Mets has serious implications for me. Some family members and one of my best friends are Mets fans. If we had lost 2 of 3 this past series it would have been a brutal week for me.

    • FireSelig says:

      I couldn’t agree more, interleague play shouldn’t be happening anymore. It served it’s purpose, Selig got the fannies in the seats after the strike, but now it’s time for some meaningful games against league, if not division rivals.

      Why would I hate the Mets?

  3. Drew says:

    Not a shocker here… The pricing is ridiculous. Sure, for 50 bucks you can get a solid seat and watch a hell of a team play. Unfortunately, costs don’t end at the ticket price. Mo forbid you want 2 or 3 beers and a hot dog. With that you’ve almost doubled your initial cost. I don’t know what the options are at this point. In today’s economic climate, enjoying a ball game in YSIII is not exactly light on the wallet. Even with the lowered seat costs, it’s still a lot of money, unless of course you can go 4 hours without food or a drink.

    • jsbrendog says:

      uive been to 3 games this yr and spent less than 25 a ticket each time and had non bleacher seats with great view everytime. and i bring my own sandwiches, chips, and snacks. I drink a couple beers on the way if i feel the need and boom. granted this si not for everyone. but i p[ersonally have no issue going to a game for a game and not partaking in ice cream helmets, beers, or anything else

      • yankeegirl49 says:

        You and me both!

      • JP says:

        You can bring your own food? I thought backpacks and coolers were illegal. How do you get food into the stadium?

        • You can bring food in, in a clear plastic bag.

        • jsbrendog says:

          plastic shopping bag. as long as theres no drinks, no problem. my gf brings one of those huge hippie purses and stuffs it with 2 heros, a reg size bag of doritos and some pretzls haha.

          • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

            Actually, you can bring in sealed bottles of water. Other bottles are banned.

            • leokitty says:

              I bring in 20oz soda/vitamin water/etc bottles and empty plastic water bottles all the time.

              Their official policy is “only sealed bottles of water” but they don’t actually take away anything as long as its sealed or an empty reusable plastic bottle.

              • radnom says:

                I’m almost afraid to ask, but what reason do you have for brining empty plastic bottles into the Stadium?

                • leokitty says:

                  So that I can fill it up with tap water and don’t have to pay $5 for a bottle of water in July.

                • leokitty says:

                  Oh and I meant to clarify–I am bring in a sport style bottle not like empty Poland Spring ones. ;)

                • Bo says:

                  You are that cheap that you feel the need to save 5 bucks and drink tap water?

                  Why leave your house and the tv at that point?

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

                  $5 x 6 drinks x 10 games = $300. I would rather by a new netbook and drink tap water than drink bottled water from the game and NOT have a netbook.

                  unless he/she barely has enough money to take his/her family of four to a ball game, and the only way they can afford to get the older kid a batting helmet filled ice cream is if they make both kids share and the parents drink water the whole time (tap water, that is).

                  yeah, take your kids to a ball game, its worth drinking tap water…

                • leokitty says:

                  I go to 30-40 games a year, so the Yankees have enough of my money and I’m happy drinking tap water.

                  Additionally, that is a ridiculous thing to attack someone about. Yes, not wanting to spend money on overpriced concessions means I am so cheap I have no fun at all during games :(

                • Don’t worry, leokitty. Bo needs something to complain about. After all, if you don’t do things his way you’re an idiot. Just ask him.

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

                  30-40 A YEAR??!!

                  that’s fantastic. i’m so jealous…i can’t get 10 AA games a year…

                  GOOD FOR YOU!!!

                  :)

              • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

                Good to know. Thanks.

                • henry frisch says:

                  I have been to eleven games this year.

                  They no longer require clear plastic bags this year. They usually don’t even look inside the shopping bags anymore. Just tip your cap and turn your cell phone on.

                  It is almost as civilized as all the other ballparks across the country.

  4. gc says:

    I must be the only one who could care less about empty seats. It’s the most blown out of proportion aspect of the Yankee season so far, as if it has anything to do with baseball. I mean, really, people are acting as if this is some huge surprise. The seats are the most expensive in the game AND we’re in a recession here. Do the math. Besides, if there is one thing that drives me up a wall, it’s when I’m reading the recap of a baseball game in the paper or online, and all of the sudden, the author goes into a paragraph about the attendance of the game, or how it’s the 23rd consecutive sell-out, or in this case, actually COUNTING the number of empty seats! I’ve actually read game recaps this season where the author actually reported the number of empty seats! Are they serious?? What does that have to do with the recap of the baseball game?! Oh, and last time I checked, the Yankees are leading all of Major League Baseball in attendance, including home attendance. Somehow, I never read about THAT in the game recaps.

    • The Yanks are leading MLB in home attendance this year, and they did last year too but by approximately 8000 more fans per game. We could celebrate the fact that the Yanks are still popular or mourn the fact that not as many fans over the course of a season can attend games.

      I’d still like to know what the true capacity of the new park is. As the Yanks haven’t broken the 50,000 barrier yet this year, I’m a bit skeptical of the “official” numbers.

      • gc says:

        Again, who really cares by how much? I mean, out of that 8000 more fans per game last year, there are 4000 less seats available to them this year. So is this really all about 4000 seats??? Considering the troubling financial times we’re in and the exorbitant ticket prices, I’d say they were doing very well at the gate this year. My point is that this whole attendance/empty seat thing is so boring to me. It’s like box office at the movies or TV ratings. If a film you really like doesn’t do well at the box office, does that make you like the film less? Does it automatically mean that the movie isn’t any good or has no redeeming value? It just makes me laugh a bit. Headline: Yankees Lead MLB in Attendance in 2009. But not by as much as last year. Season and new ballpark deemed massive failure. That’s the vibe I get from all of this. It’s beyond silly.

        • If it’s boring to you, why are you commenting on it?

          • Jordan says:

            Oh no you didn’t, Ben.

          • gc says:

            Because I have an opinion on it, it’s a free country, and I enjoy this website and the discussion that takes place here. My opinion is that the topic is more or less boring, I stated my reasons why, and I wanted to be decent enough to respond to some of the things you brought up in your response. If someone starts a discussion with me about something I’ve written, I’m going to continue the discussion if I think it’s worth continuing. Review: Topic? Boring. Discussion. Not. At least not always. :)

            • I asked only because we’re growing sick of people who leave one-off comments saying, “This is boring. I don’t care.”

              But you think it’s boring and care a bit. That’s a different story. Thanks for clearing that up!

      • leokitty says:

        About the 50k mark, I’m starting to think that there aren’t actually 50k physical seats available and they won’t hit that number until they sell SRO.

    • henry frisch says:

      The attendance and the kind of crowd do matter in establishing home field advantage. The bandbox with the 39,000 people all pro-Sox that crowd into it in Boston is a major part of their ridiculous home field advantage.

  5. Chris A says:

    I pretty much have accepted that the expensive seats will be for the most part empty and they remain that way unless the price drops significantly. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they are empty in the playoffs (assuming the team makes it). The attendance seems to be up compared to beginning of the year, but I don’t think there will be consistent sell outs until the prices drop significantly (which will not happen this year)…or the economy suddenly makes a huge turn around (not anytime soon).

    • JP says:

      The team is up against a difficult problem. Some, maybe a majority, of those uber-expensive seats have actually sold. So if you drop the price of the remaining ones to fill them, I think you have to refund any existing season ticket holders the difference. They’d have a class-action suit on their hands.

      And I don’t know if it would start a domino effect, where lowering those prices would spill over into other sections, where they’d end up lowering thousands of seat prices all over the stadium, not just in those exclusive sections.

      Like the innocent calls for raising the “minimum” wage. This leads to a raise for everyone, because you can’t raise the bottom guys without pissing off everyone else.

    • henry frisch says:

      Actually, yesterday the expensive seats were pretty much filled. I think if they were to announce that there were day of game standing spots they would get a few thousand more. Lots of people like to stand around now anyway because the promenades are so nice.

  6. Bill says:

    The empty seat thing will be going on until they drop the 300-1500 ticket prices.Go out and enjoy the game.Let the yankees worry about the empty seats.

  7. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    If nothing else, they (Yanks) could give away a score or so of those awesome uber-expensive tix to worthwhile charities or individuals, filling just a few more, selling a couple of hot dogs to help pay the staff, and having just a couple less empty seats–and if any of the people who paid all that loot complain, you just bring one of the kids to them and point out ‘he’s got cancer for Mo’s sake!!!’ and then ask them for a donation.

    • radnom says:

      Bingo.

      if any of the people who paid all that loot complain

      What the fuck right do they have. They paid for their seats…the Yankees can do anything they want with the remaining seats.

      Including lowering the prices.
      Sure people would be pissed, but there would be no lawsuit/refund. Remember when Apple lowered the cost of the iPhone like 3 months after it came out?

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        I bit that apple. I was pissed…but when they gave me $100 bucks to use with them somewhere, I felt a lot better and ended up spending more than that with them.

        I bet that was expensive, but it kept a lot of goodwill…with the economy the way it is, I don’t think they want to piss off the people that shelled out all that dough to by those seats–I think they want them back next year (when, ostensibly, health care will be free, cars will be made in a America, we will have bulldozed Citi field in the name of growth, and all will be good again!).

        I’m torn between voting for what’s good for the franchise in terms of marketing and goodwill, and selling those seats to get people to see games, have them buy stadium food/junk and make lifelong fans of them. I’m sure their marketing and sales dept is having the same argument every day too.

        Its like, Joba or Hughes to the pen for August and/or the playoffs?

        :)

  8. Zach says:

    “Through the first 29 games in the Bronx, the Yankees have had only one sellout in their new $1.5 billion palace, all the way back on Opening Day.”
    There are only 2 teams selling out their ballparks, Phillies because they are World Champs and Boston because they only hold 37,800 fans. And STILL the Yankees are leaders in total attendance. Maybe they should have built a 37,000 fan stadium so we could get sell outs every game.

    ” Last season the Yankees sold out 58 of their 81 home games.”
    Yeah because it was the FINAL year of the stadium so people from all over wanted to get one last chance to see the stadium.

  9. Jesus says:

    I’ll tell you what doesn’t help the empty seat problems: Wang starts.

    I’m sorry i’m just bitter that wang is starting the game i’m going to.

  10. Bob Stone says:

    One key fact in this discussion that is NEVER brought up is the average REVENUE per game. I am sure the Yankees don’t care if they are 8,000 lower in attendance per game if they are UP $100,000 per game.

    My gut tells me that the Yanks are significantly up in revenue per game this year. Has anyone done an analysis of 2009 vs. 2008 Year-To-Date Revenue?? I would love to see those numbers. In the end, that’s what matters most in terms of the health of the franchise, even though empty seats look bad and a few thousand fans fewer are getting into games.

    Yes, I understand that public relations is important as well and the Yankees have ticked off a lot of fans this year (including me). But it the end, it’s all about the money!

    • Bo says:

      It’s not about revenue. Charging 2500 for one seat instead of 850 is obviously going to bring in higher revenues even if they dont sell out.

      It’s about the fact that the stadium looks terrible. Rows and rows of empty’s are not what this team wanted. When there is also no vibe and the place is dead as a doornail thats also not what they wanted when they built it.

      You cant put a monetary price on that especially since the goal is winning.

      • Zach says:

        “You cant put a monetary price on that especially since the goal is winning”
        Isnt their record this year better then last year when you had the stadium at full capacity for basically every game? You say its dead and has no vibe but they already have 7 (6 really) walk off hits at home, and in the 7-9 inning of close games i dont see the stadium as ‘dead’ but maybe thats just me because i dont focus on it

        I get the point that it looks bad and it sucks that the empty seats and HRs conversation take over every game when you watch it but I dont get how that ties into ‘since the goal is winning’

  11. LiveFromNewYork says:

    My few trips to the Stadium this year I noticed a few things: 1) “cheap” but good seats are relatively easy to get.

    2) there are a lot, I mean A LOT of people with no jersey’s or team paraphenalia on. Just people coming to see the new Stadium and they don’t care who wins and some of them don’t even seem to be paying a bit of attention to the game. I saw this last year at the old Stadium but didn’t think it would be as prevalent this year. I am not clear on why people go to ballgames if not to see the ballgame or root for a team. I’ve gone to games where I’ve had no interest in either team but that’s because I like baseball and I paid attention to the game. Most of these “non-fans” leave early.

    3) everyone I know who has paid for a Jim Beame suite ticket or whatever it’s called did not think it was worth it.

  12. donttradecano says:

    Whats the deal with the standing room? How do you get those tickets?

    I have a feeling people will shell out the cash for those seats come playoff time, mainly because its the playoffs. Their are probably people with the money to pay for those seats now, but cant justify spending it on a regular season game. Come playoff time, i bet it will be different.

  13. William says:

    I’ve been to about 10 games, including last Friday, and think the empty seat issue is exaggerated. Also, something tells me that the capacity might not actually be 52,000 because this Friday there didn’t seem to be many empty seats anywhere…not even in the expensive seats (which have access to a gratis restaurant that is always packed…meaning those people aren’t in the stands). What’s more, the concourses are usually filled with people standing around watching the game from the many excellent site lines.

    Each time I’ve gone to YSIII, I have grown more comfortable with the surroundings and more satisfied with the improved convenience. I also love the way it looks on TV (a trademark of the old place).

  14. Jesus says:

    When a team sells out it is likely not maximizing the profits it can make from selling the tickets. A simple example: selling 8 out of 10 tickets at $130 is better than 10 of 10 at $100. The formula gets more complicated when you take into account concession sales — do the 2 extra people buy $40 or more of stuff when at the game?

    Finding the right price is tough. If you try to sell those 10 tickets at $140 and only 7 people buy then 10 @ $100 is better.

    To maximize profit the team needs to price every seat differently, which is something the Giants are doing with a small set of seats this year using a dynamic pricing model.

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