Sports bubble watch, mid-April edition

I have a short op-ed in today’s Metro NY about the deflating sports bubble, prompted by my visit last week to the New York Mets‘ Citi Field last week at which a large chunk of the expensive seats went unfilled. Other recent signs that $110 ticket prices and 8.5% unemployment rates don’t mix:

  • The New York Yankees failed to sell out their second home game of the season, breaking a streak of 39 straight sellouts, and the empty seats continued into the weekend. After Sunday’s game, New York TImes columnist George Vescey wrote: “Yankees management claimed an attendance of 43,068 on Sunday, but you could not prove that by the gaping sections of expensive seats from dugout to dugout. Either the Yankees have not actually sold those seats, or the bankers and brokers with the corporate seats are taking weekend jobs to make ends meet in this rotten economy they helped create.”
  • MLB teams have already officially abandoned their “baseball is recession-proof” line, and teams are responding by rolling back ticket prices: The Milwaukee Brewers are offering some seats for $1, the Minnesota Twins are selling tickets pegged to the Dow, and there’s a long list of other discount plans. (Reports that the Houston Astros and/or Toronto Blue Jays were offering season tickets for $76 total look to have been erroneous, or at least I couldn’t confirm them.)
  • Fans who’ve bought pricey seats figuring they could sell off those they didn’t want to use are finding few buyers on sites like StubHub and Craigslist. Reports Bloomberg News: “Sion Nuseiri, an accountant from Brooklyn, said he bought two season tickets with the idea of selling off enough to wind up with a profit. Instead, the offers he gets are below the $15- $35 face value for his tickets. … ‘I actually thought I would make some money,’ Nuseiri, 23, said in an interview. ‘Every time I put something on Craigslist, people are trying to lowball me.'”
  • Speaking of StubHub, if you want to go to tonight’s first-ever night game at the new Yankee Stadium, you can get upper deck seats ($22 face value) for as little as $6, and seats in the $55 second-deck “main level” for as little as $10.

So far, no signs of the Mets and Yanks rolling back prices to reflect the new economic realities, but if the empty seats continue — and, more important, if fans start eschewing the team ticket windows when they realize StubHub is so much cheaper — things could get mighty interesting.

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5 comments on “Sports bubble watch, mid-April edition

  1. The Jays’ $76 ($95CAN) season ticket plan is a long-time joint promotion with the Toronto Star called the Star Season Pack. It doesn’t appear to be offered on their ticket page at the moment, but here’s a link that mentions it:

    I can confirm its existence, as I attended two games last year with a friend who bought the plan. It’s a long-standing promotion, though, and not a response to the current economic climate.

    The season pack is the equivalent of a voucher that lets you fly standby on an unlimited number of airline flights. If a game isn’t sold out, the team will release a limited number of tickets to Star Season Pack ticket holders on a first-come-first-served basis. You show your season pass at the box office, and they’ll give you an upper deck ticket for the game. No restrictions, no fine print. For a team like the Jays that rarely sells out, it’s a good way to get people through the turnstiles to buy overpriced Molson. And it’s baseball the way it should be.

  2. These owners deserve everything they get. We pay $10 for a beer that cost them less than a buck. Replica hats that cost a few dollars to produce come at a cost of $42. The tide is turning and it’s about time! I guess that they will have to settle for being multi-millionaires instead of billionaires. My heart is breaking for them.

  3. I say bring on the Sports Recession (should we copyright that?)! This can only be positive for the hard-luck fans. Even if the team sucks, there’s always cheeeeeeaaap tickets!

    Time to heckle dem lazy-ass players again! Bring back 10-cent Beer Night and battery-throwing while we’re at it as well (OK, kidding on that last part and I don’t think pricing the beer too cheaply is the answer, either) ;0)

  4. Last time I bought seats in the Bronx was 2006, I have only been to Yankee Stadium twice. Yesterday, the Yankees sent me a very heavy fan guide and seat chart to the new stadium. I live in Chicago too! Wow, they are reaching that far into past ticket buyers and people who live that far away to try and sell some seats.

  5. The Yankees have held a license to steal for several years. Their own greed at the top will cost them for years to come.

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