Earlier this week we learned the Yankees are discontinuing the print-at-home ticket option, which is a pretty big inconvenience. You can now get ticket barcodes on your phone, which is great, but the days of grabbing some last minute tickets on StubHub and printing them out are a thing of the past. Hard-stock tickets or mobile barcodes only. That’s how you get into Yankee Stadium now.
The Yankees claim the decision to discontinue print-at-home tickets is based on eliminating ticket fraud, and while I’m sure that’s a factor, this is about money. It’s obvious. The Yankees have long been opposed to StubHub and this move undercuts the secondary market. It helps establish a minimum price on all tickets by giving fans a reason to purchase them either directly from the Yankees or on Yankees Ticket Exchange, and that reason is convenience.
For whatever reason the Yankees don’t want to come out and admit this is a business decision designed to make money. Yesterday morning, Yankees COO Lonn Trost appeared on a talk radio show to discuss the team’s decision to dump print-at-home tickets, and, well, it wasn’t pretty. Here’s the video. Here’s a transcript:
“The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money. It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and (another) fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount … And quite frankly, the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”
The Yankees don’t want their rich fans to sit next to poor fans, basically. I hope that’s not what Trost intended to say — I do plenty of radio hits these days and believe me, I know how easy it is for things to come out incorrectly when answering questions live — but that’s how it came out. This is not the first time Trost has said something like this, so it’s tough to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
That is really, really bad. It makes Trost — and by extension, the Yankees — look completely tone-deaf and elitist. They don’t want fans in premium seats getting upset because the people sitting next to them may have found a better deal somewhere else even though it happens in every venue all around the world. Those premium seats have rarely been full since the new Yankee Stadium opened …
… and the Yankees have spent more time blaming (and suing) StubHub than offering practical solutions. The ticket price is set and the Yankees seem totally unwilling to adjust even if the demand is not there. Now the COO insinuates the team doesn’t want a certain kind of fan sitting in those premium seats. That’s a real thing that really happened.
This is a problem. The Yankees come off as snobby and favoring the elites in premium seats. Trost didn’t just double down on the club’s decision to eliminate print-at-home tickets, he made it personal. Despite the glamour of baseball blogging, I am not independently wealthy, and if I happen to find a good deal on a premium ticket, I’m going to jump on it. No one has a right to tell me I don’t belong in that seat just because the guy sitting next to me paid full price. Tough. That’s life.
The numbers do not lie: attendance at Yankee Stadium is dropping and YES Network ratings are taking a hit. The Yankees’ biggest offseason acquisition was a guy being investigated for domestic violence, and regardless of how you personally feel about that, a lot of people don’t like it. The team has been marginally competitive the last few years and ownership continues to talk about the desire to cut payroll. These things are all generating negative PR. Now getting good deals on tickets will be more difficult for the average fan.
Look, I don’t begrudge the Yankees for making a business decision. I imagine it’s only a matter of time until other teams eliminate the print-at-home ticket option. But man, can they do this without being insulting or snobby? There’s a line and Trost crossed it. The Yankees seem to be out of touch with the majority of their fan base, and given the way things have been going the last few years, they need all the goodwill they can get.