Oct
14

The other new Yankee Stadium

By

On Friday, a few hours before the Yanks’ classic ALDS Game 2 victory, ESPN.com unleashed a rather interesting Outside the Lines on us. Wright Thompson went quasi-undercover to experience the $2500 $1250 Legends Seats at the new Yankee Stadium, and he wrote a treatise on sports ticket prices. He piece goes a long way toward explaining why the Yanks’ premium seats were priced so high, why the prices will crash and whether or not this experiment in ostentatious stadium experiences was a success.

Generally, we know the story. In April, the Legends Suites were embarrassingly empty and not until the Yanks halved the sticker price did the seats start to fill up. Meanwhile, Thompson, who bought his one seat on StubHub, got just a print-out to show for it. For $1250, he doesn’t even get a real ticket stub. This trend in digital ticketing, writes Thompson, is just one part of the death of fan faithfulness. How can you make an archive of ticket stubs if all you have is a black-and-white 8.5×11 print out?

As Thompson explores the champagne and Chilean turbot that Legends fans can enjoy, he talks about how Wall St. created this new Yankee Stadium seating monstrosity. The demand created by a flush Wall Street fed the Yankee Stadium ticket market throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s. Seats in the lower ring became more and more expensive simply because firms were willing to pay for them. But the Yankees, says Thompson, overplayed their hand:

In the same way, the use of tickets has changed, though it has less to do with the market collapsing and more to do with the Fidelity guys getting busted. You can probably guess what happened next: a proposed SEC rule governing expenses that could forever alter the way Wall Street entertains. To get out front of the SEC, many firms have instituted their own internal controls requiring gifts worth more than $100 to be reported. A computer program has been purchased by more than 200 companies that, for the first time, allows statistics to be kept on ticket use, including how much business each one brings in.

So … just as companies were trying to limit extravagant spending, the Yankees came out with the most extravagant tickets in the history of sports, designed in part for a group of people who could no longer buy them. “They killed the golden goose,” a former Bear Stearns guy says. “When the new prices came out, everybody said, ‘Are you kidding? We can’t even give these to clients.’”

Why? Well, first of all, the sell-side guys now face greater scrutiny about what they can gain by using the tickets. I talked to one Barclays big shot who explained it like this: “The real issue is: Do you want to go to the trouble of taking your client to the Yankee game when you know your boss has an expectation of what’s supposed to come out of the game that’s different than what the client has. Before, the firm’s expectations were low because the investment was low and the client’s expectations were low. Now we’re laying out eight grand on these tickets and you get paid on a 10 percent rate. That’s 80 grand worth of commissions that needs to get done before you get back to even. And 80 grand of commissions at 2 cents a square, in the equity business, what’s that, 4 million shares of stock? If this client does 4 million shares of stock with you, then you’ve made your investment back.”

Second, the buy-side now believes the tickets cost so much that they’d feel a quid pro quo. Yankees games went from something small to something like a trip to the Masters. One buy-sider told me: “I’ve been offered really good seats a couple of times, but I haven’t taken tickets from a broker in the new stadium. I’d feel like I owed the guy.”

As the piece goes on, we know where it’s going. Thompson talks to Louis Gimble IV, a hops magnate whose family had owned Yankee Stadium season tickets since the Great Depression. The Yanks wanted to move Gimble and up his per-game ticket price from the unaffordable $225 to the outrageous $900 level.

In the end, I know where I want to be. I’ve grown to like the new park. While I was opposed to it at first, the stadium is here for good. I’ll stick with what Thompson calls the “regular fans” in the 400 level. Those are my seats.

Meanwhile, the Yankees will have to come to terms with a failed experiment. They couldn’t get $2500 a seat and are already reducing next year’s ticket prices for the Legends Suites. It was worth a shot, but the bad economy, market regulation and the economics of commission-driven deals on Wall Street eluded the stadium planners. Greed might have suited Gordon Gecko, but the Yankees will be subject to the whims of the open market when it comes to pricing their tickets.

Categories : Yankee Stadium

49 Comments»

  1. Tom Zig says:

    Being able to order Dom Pérignon at the ball park seems a bit ridiculous.

  2. Awesomeness says:

    hey speaking of Gordon Gecko you see they were filming Wall Street 2 in the bx?

  3. She looks around, corrects herself. “These aren’t the regular people,” she says. “The regular people are in the 400s.”

    “Those seats have cushions, too,” Ian says.

    He makes a good point. Much has been said and written about The Moat and how it highlights the divide between the haves and the have-nots. But that’s not quite right. There are no have-nots here.

    Untrue. My seats in the 400s do not have cushions and they cost the same as my tickets in the Tier (similar location) cost in the old building. This part and the part about internet-delivered tickets are the only problems I really have with this piece, the rest is interesting. The internet-delivered tickets… I don’t know, it’s not like that’s a Yankees-specific issue, nor is it really an issue since paper tickets DO exist for each game, you just have to get them if you want them. I don’t really get why the tickets-thing was even in this article, it seemed pretty irrelevant to me.

    • I believe Thompson included that story to highlight how there is a disconnect between the fan experience and teams. I used to love collecting ticket stubs, but it doesn’t have the same allure to it when all I have is a print out. I have a great framed photo of me and my family with one of our ticket stubs from the last game at the old stadium, but we received just two tickets — and two print-outs — for that game. The fan-collectors lose out a bit.

      • Yeah I hear you, but you can get an actual ticket-stub if you want it. They still print one ticket stub for each seat for each game, the same way they did last year and the same way they did in 1950 and every other year.

        More importantly… Electronic ticketing is a benefit to the common fan, not a negative. The fact that any fan can go on stubhub or some other site and get a ticket, the day of the game, and have that ticket emailed to them in their office or home so they can just print the ticket on their computer and go straight to the game, is an awesome benefit to every fan, not just rich people. Doesn’t that benefit far (like, by miles and miles) outweigh the negative of having a printed ticket instead of the original ticket?

        I know I’m being a little annoying here,,, If people miss having their ticket stubs, that’s understandable and obviously it’s unreasonable to have a problem with that. All I’m saying is this is a necessary evil leading to a pretty awesome result.

        • Electronic ticketing is a benefit to the common fan, not a negative.

          Agreed. I bought 10 tickets to CitiField back in May on StubHub, and forwarded the email to all the various people going so everyone could print their own tickets and arrive independently without having to meet up ahead of time.

          Email ticketing is all sorts of awesome. Progress FTW.

  4. Jerkface says:

    I really disliked the one sentence about “seeing A-rod choke up close.” Is that really necessary? I guess it fits with the generally negative tone of the article, but come on.

  5. A.D. says:

    How can you make an archive of ticket stubs if all you have is a black-and-white 8.5×11 print out?

    Just make an archive of printouts, which will be in perfect condition, because you can make multiple copies.

  6. A.D. says:

    Basically much like many other things effected by wall street during that time, premium Yankees tickets became very over valued.

  7. Tank Foster says:

    Great article.

    One wonders how much the inevitable crash in ticket prices will affect the higher end teams like the Yankees and Red Sox; I can’t imagine ticket prices are stratospheric in PNC or Petco. I know it’s the TV network that gives teams like the Yankees and Boston the lion’s share of their revenue advantage, but ticket prices have to contribute to the imbalance at least some. So if you believe that the imbalance in revenue among MLB teams is a problem, the economic changes may address it, at least to a degree.

    • “One wonders how much the inevitable crash in ticket prices will affect the higher end teams like the Yankees and Red Sox; I can’t imagine ticket prices are stratospheric in PNC or Petco.”

      Everything’s relative. People pay less for tickets in places like Pittsburgh, but people also make less money in places like Pittsburgh.

      • Rose says:

        Exactly. That’s what people don’t understand about the “payroll” argument. First of all, the Steinbrenner’s only investment (besides horses) are the Yankees. Their big baby is the Yankees. Other guys have their spoon dipped in much bigger things (i.e. Ted Turner, etc) so their baseball team isn’t priority #1. That shouldn’t be the Steinbrenner’s fault. Secondly, it’s a business. And if anybody has ever taken “Creating & Managing an Enterprise 2″ like I just finished up at RPI, you would know that in order to compete and/or remain successful, you constantly have to improve your product (i.e. Apple with the Ipod). Lastly, New York is the second biggest city in the world.

        For the Yankees to be forced to spend the same amount as Oakland or Kansas City is ridiculous. Look at last year’s World Series for an example: Even when some of their teams are winning…nobody cares. Why some of these teams were created or are still located in these places is the real question. If nobody is watching them regardless…what’s the point of them existing?

        • Tank Foster says:

          @Mondesi: Yes, everything is relevant, but I don’t think the income disparity of NY v. Pittsburgh is of the same order as their difference in ticket prices. Clearly it WAS, when Wall Street firms were buying tickets, but not now. This season, the highest priced Yankee tickets (other than luxury suites) at the end of the season were $1250, at PNC they are $210, for the behind home tickets, for some games. I don’t think there is a 6-fold difference in income of average citizens in NY v. Pittsburgh. So my question remains, how much will the Yankees’ revenue be affected if they are forced to really slash the Legends Box ticket prices? What if they are forced to lower them to $300-$400?

          @Rose: I agree with you that the idea that every team should have the same payroll is stupid. I don’t like revenue sharing; I don’t like the NFL system of attempted “parity.” But I do believe that MLB will be healthier with as much “natural” competitive balance as possible. If a natural correction in ticket prices hurts the Yankees bottom line some, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. The Yankees will still maintain a huge advantage, for many of the reasons you list. There are other arguments I’ve read about competitive balance that make sense (and the current “luxury tax” is not one of them that I think makes any sense…). For instance, when the Yankees play the Twins and the game is on YES, the Yankees get 100% of the revenue from the TV contract. One argument I’ve heard is that in this instance, any revenue for that game should be split 50-50 between the Yankees and Twins. The net result of this sort of arrangement would be dramatic. The Yankees would still be the richest team by a hefty margin, but some of the disparity would be reduced. The argument for this arrangement is that, technically, the rest of the MLB teams could simply say to the Yankees, “you either split the TV money with us, or we’re not playing you next season.” Baseball’s happy cabal of owners would never do something like this, but there is at least some logic in the idea that television revenue should be shared in some way with both teams. (To my knowledge, right now there is no sharing of TV revenue in team-owned networks like YES, SNY, etc.).

  8. This trend in digital ticketing, writes Thompson, is just one part of the death of fan faithfulness.

    Maybe I’m alone here, but the ticket stub/non ticket stub portion of my fan experience represents about 0.0000000000000001% of said experience.

    I print my own ticket on my printer instead of having an actual ticket mailed to me?

    Big. Fucking. Whoop.

  9. jsbrendog says:

    sigh. i wish i got a paper ticket for the homerun derby last yr and not a printout….can’t really frame a printout.
    at least i have an actual ticket to the first ever game, even if it was an exhibition game….oh how things have changed. cody ransom homered off the lf foul pole that game.

    ps one thing i do llike is the new scanning of tickets instead of ripping them. it makes my concert ticket collection look a lot better.

    • i wish i got a paper ticket for the homerun derby last yr and not a printout….can’t really frame a printout.

      You could maybe paste your printout on some nice, shiny oaktag. There’s that…

      • jsbrendog says:

        ha, touche. while i do agree with your above comments about convenience when arriving at the ballpark and the small percentage the actual stub serves in the grand scheme of things fan experience-wise i still must say that at least for important events and for me all concerts I am old fashioned and need to see and have a ticket stub with my own eyes and hands. but yes, progress ftw (once I get over the loss of stubs)

        i have a ticket to every concert i have been to except for the ones that didnt give more than a hand stamp because it was at a bar where 15 people showed up. (sigh, i miss raq)

        • Like I said, I acknowledge that while ticket stubs mean nothing to me, they may mean something to others. I just object to the “E-ticketing is KILLING FAN FAITHFULNESS!!!” hyperbole.

          • All it’s killing is the dorky* act of collecting ticket stubs. It’s actually improving fan faithfulness by allowing people to go to games they couldn’t have gone to without e-ticketing and making it easier (per TSJC’s story about distributing tickets to a large group of friends) to go games in general.

            *Sorry guys, but you know it’s true.

            • jsbrendog says:

              i disagree it is dorky. its not like collecting stamps or coins or one of these things where what is being collected is pointless.

              for me it is making sure I have a stub to bring home and throw into my “concert ticket dutchmaster’s box” so I have them all. I’ve gone to so many sometimes I forget and have had to just look through to reminisce and remember.

              granted i dont think it is cool, but it is far above hugging spreadsheets and living in our mother’s basements….and stamp collecting and coin collecting..and baseball card collecting…

              • jsbrendog says:

                to tack on, for a baseball game, who really effin cares? the only games I want/need a stub for are world series clinchers, no hitters/perfect games, first ever game, home run derby/alllstar game, first game in a new stadium. fini.

                there are so many games it is kinda dumb. i just think the experience of concert’s is much more unique based on the variety and diversity of venues and the variety and diversity of the music.

                but whatever i guess im biased.

              • “granted i dont think it is cool…”

                It’s not.

                “… but it is far above hugging spreadsheets and living in our mother’s basements….”

                Meh, I’m unmoved, but I’ll concede this point. It’s not, as jsb said, as dorky as hugging spreadsheets in your mother’s basement. Aim high, ticket stub collectors.

                “… and stamp collecting and coin collecting..and baseball card collecting…”

                No, it’s the same thing, or at the very least it’s very close to the same thing.

                (It’s not up to me or anyone else to tell anyone what’s dorky, I was just joking.)

  10. This trend in digital ticketing, writes Thompson, is just one part of the death of fan faithfulness. How can you make an archive of ticket stubs if all you have is a black-and-white 8.5×11 print out?

    This may be the single dumbest thing I’ve read all day — and I’ve been on teh Intarwubs a lot today, so this is against some stiff competition.

    There are so many billions of ways that being able to print out the barcode of your ticket makes everyone’s life easier, improves stadium security, and makes it easier to keep track of who comes in and out and how many people attend games.

    But hey, let’s drop that so a few people can save their ticket stubs. *rolleyes* They probably think Derek Jeter should bunt more too. Yeesh.

    • No one is saying that e-ticketing shouldn’t exist, but the option to get a real ticket should be there. That’s all. I certainly understand and appreciate the ease and convenience of e-ticketing. I use it all the time.

      • jsbrendog says:

        agreed. if you get tickets to a game a week before then printing out makes sense. but when I went to chicago and got my ticket for home season opener at wrigley 4 months in advance I damn well better get a stub in the mail. what is the point of printing them out in that case?

        the fact that I cna go on stubhub or a team that sucks website and buy a ticket day of and print it out and like tjsc said above email it to the other 2 people going so they can show up whenever they dman well please and i dont have to leave it at will call is amazing. but the option depending on the situation for a stub should be available

      • “No one is saying that e-ticketing shouldn’t exist, but the option to get a real ticket should be there.”

        But the ability to get a real ticket is there. Again… They print one ticket for each seat for each game, same as they always have. What e-ticketing gives you is an opportunity to get tickets in a way that was unavailable to you before. It doesn’t eliminate anyone’s ability to procure a ticket stub.

  11. Victoria says:

    You like the new ballpark now?? That’s news to me.

    Also, I don’t think you can make an archive of ticket stubs even if you have a color printer.

  12. mustang says:

    “How can you make an archive of ticket stubs if all you have is a black-and-white 8.5×11 print out?”

    So agree especially in the Playoffs. I have now purchase tickets for ALDS Game 1 and ALCS Game 1 from Stub Hub (at a nice mark up) and have nice print outs to leave to my son.

    I understand what Tommy is saying above, but at the prices they are charging the stubs should be included.

  13. leokitty says:

    A friend of mine took me to a game in the Legends Section. One thing I don’t get from the reports like this are people who say “oh now I can NEVER sit in regular seating again, it’ll never be the same!!”

    Yeah it was really nice to have “free” food and water and if it cost less I would try to do it again, but I sat in my partial plan seats in the Grandstand a few days later and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. The view was of course amazing but not so much so that I feel like it is worth the price of admission.

  14. Renny Baseball says:

    One interesting thing to add is that, checking Stubhub tonight, for ALCS Game 2, to be played on a Saturday evening, there are numerous single Legends Suite seats available for below $1,000/per (still outrageous but notably less than what the article writer paid); a couple of seats are selling for $600+ /per.

    Good to see prices coming down to earth.

    Personally, I think the only thing I could imagine paying a premium for is the view — when I want top food, I go to a top restaurant but at a ballpark, I am a happy with a hot dog and a beer.

  15. a realist says:

    Nice read and a good synopsis. The next question after all this is does this thing trickle down all the way to the clubhouse? What I mean is, every game you hear “Yankees have spent a billion on players in the last few years”; even if we win the whole thing it’s always going to be scrutinized. Who isn’t gonna hear, “Yeah, well you bought another world championship, big deal” from a misguided baseball fan not affiliated with NYY?

    This revenue loss is real. They Yank brain trust has some hefty loans on the new ballpark. Maximizing seating real estate was one big way to pay it off. It didn’t take off and with more government agencies looking over the shoulders of big business it’s a very real possibility that uber-expensive seating and corporate perks are a bygone era. How many more 200 million dollar payrolls can we put together, anyway? With the rising luxury tax is it too much of a stretch to see the Yanks cut payroll (read: Matsui, Damon, and Pettite this year…Jeets and Posada soon) as they realize that fielding the best team money can buy actually puts some of your own money in the hands of your competition?

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