Yankees gripe that attendance is down because tickets are too cheap

New York Yankees attendance is down this season, and beet-faced New York Yankees president Randy Levine has been complaining that it’s all StubHub’s fault:

“We believe there are serious issues with the StubHub relationship,” team president Randy Levine told The Post yesterday. “We are actively reviewing more fan-friendly alternatives for next year.”…

The Yanks and other teams claim tickets are priced too low on StubHub.

The StubHub effect this year — combined with a lousy economy and a poorer on-field performance — has produced an average crowd of 40,949 through 25 games, compared with 42,491 last year.

Season-ticket sales have dropped a few thousand, to the mid-30,000 range, the drop about the same amount that daily attendance is down, a source said.

Now, complaining that nobody goes to the game because tickets are too cheap makes no sense, of course. What Levine is really saying is that because people who have already bought tickets can resell them to others, the team is being prevented from forcing lots of people to buy tickets at their inflated face values whether or not they’ll be able to use them. Which, whether or not you think this is worth whining about to the newspapers, actually still makes no sense, because the real reason season-ticket sales are down, as Deadspin notes, is that they were inflated by people who were buying them with the intent of unloading unused seats on, yes, StubHub:

How it worked, back in the go-go aughts: StubHub would get their cut from each scalped ticket, often grotesquely above face value. The Yankees would easily sell out their stock, as face value represented the cheapest way to buy. Season ticket holders would renew their plans, knowing they could profit on the resale market.

Now, demand has gone down. The season ticket holders have learned they’re going to have problems reselling their seats, so season plans sales are down a few thousand. No one’s buying from the Yankees’ box office, because they know they can get cheaper seats on StubHub. The result: attendance is down nine percent at Yankee Stadium off of last year, even as it’s up across baseball.

So, live by the StubHub, die by the StubHub — if the Yankees cut ties with the service next year, as seems likely, they could see more fans forced to pay face value for tickets, but probably will also cut into their season-ticket base even more, as everyone gets cold feet about being stuck with tickets to Tuesday night games against the Twins.

The best part of the Deadspin article, meanwhile, may be this reader comment:

Ya, it’s StubHub.

Its not that the place is a museum with aluminum siding.

Certainly not the fact that even with free tickets, you’re still spending $500 for a family of 4 on concessions, souvenirs, or, God forbid, parking

Speaking of the parking: Those fancy new structures that are actually pretty crappy: Ya, they aren’t even responsible for your car.

It sure as hell can’t be the fact that these fuckers got their buddies onto Bloomberg’s “blue ribbon panel” to investigate just what exactly a new Yankee Stadium should involve, then got together with the mayor’s cronies to run a train on tax payers.

It can’t be the fact that still fucked the City out of an extra $1 billion in tax revenues by undervaluing the property.

Or that fact that they reneged on their deal to rebuild the public park space that was torn down to build the new stadium.

Or that as soon as the stadium deals were announced, the mayor also started closing fire houses and stopped hiring cops.

Ya, its StubHub, you pig fuckers.

Not that it’s really all that likely that Yankees attendance is down because the mayor is closing fire houses. But that makes as much sense as that it’s down because tickets are too cheap.


9 comments on “Yankees gripe that attendance is down because tickets are too cheap

  1. I hate to defend the Yankees here, but, as in California alimony awards, there is something to the idea that someone can become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. It’s happening in Milwaukee, too, where fans are so accustomed to paying below face on StubHub that games that used to be automatic sellouts see fans shy away and watch at home. I put myself in that category. I’m so used to below face Dodgers tickets that the only games I’ll buy at face value from Ticketmaster are the games vs. my beloved Brewers.

  2. So you have a baseball park that’s lost a lot of the charm and history of the old park. The area around it that, from what I’ve been told, bustled with business is dying off. And the prices are ridiculous for good seats and reasonable for obstructed seats.

    Meanwhile places like Fenway Park and, as of right now, Wrigley Field combine their destination value with foot traffic that is able to spinoff for neighboring merchants and both those parks are doing just fine.

    Maybe some of these teams need to remember that while they may not profit directly from a vibrant neighbor surrounding their stadia they will profit indirectly.

  3. Amen, Andrew.

    I have long agreed (after having read it somewhere else) that the densely populated and generally appealing (and yes, vibrant) neighborhood around Wrigley is way more important to the Cubs attendance than the “charm” of the troughs and the ivy and the bad food. I believe that is at the root of the chasm in attendance between the Cubs and the generally better White Sox.

    If the Cubs ever leave their Wrigleyville nest for a stadium in the middle of a huge parking lot in Addison or Hoffman Estates or Peotone, they better plan on being good ALL the time, and that might not be enough (see White Sox).

  4. Neil:

    The reason why Randy Levine is upset is that Stubhub truly allows tickets to be sold at market value-tickets for tonight’s game against Tampa Bay are as low as $2-behind home plate in the upper deck (with the service and delivery fee(s) you can get them for $15-which is approximately 50% below what you would pay at the ticket window).

    The Mets contacted me last year about a partial season ticket plan and told me that people were buying them because the tickets could easily be resold at Stubhub over the face value.

    Times have changed.

    The Yankees are probably looking to sign an exclusive deal (with Ticketmaster or another vendor) where tickets could not be sold below face value-all that will do is erode their season ticket base even more.

    Will MLB even allow them to enter into such an agreement? I believe they either own all or part of Stubhub.

    Stay tuned.

  5. I understand Levine’s beef, but why didn’t anyone ask him what a more ‘fan-friendly’ alternative to cheap tickets is? More expensive tickets?

  6. The teams will probably enter into an agreement with Ticketsnow (TicketMasters reseller that works with Madison Square Garden) and not allow people to sell under face value. That will drive people away from buying season tickets.

    But just because StubHub won’t be the official re-seller anymore won’t stop people from posting on StubHub. Just because they cant upload the bar codes anymore, won’t prevent people from putting the PDF file version of their tickets on StubHub.

    It’ll be more of the same.

    Its more of a pricing failure by the Yankees than anything.

  7. Even if the Yankees cut the ties they have now with StubHub, people will still be able to use SH to sell Yankees tickets. The buyers just won’t be able to download them from SH (they’ll have have them FedExed or pick them up from a last-minute SH location), so it’ll get a little more expensive and inconvenient for buyers (no I don’t work for StubHub).

    Love the story about the Mets advertising SH as a selling point. Live by the sword, die by the sword as far as teams are concerned.

  8. Mr. Levine’s consternation has it’s roots in the type of euphoric thinking that prevailed in America (and in fact, in much of the western world) in the 1920s.

    This should be no surprise, of course, as that style of thinking generally comes with the type of economic conditions that existed then and in the latter part of the last decade.

    Parasitic organizations tend to react badly when someone suggests that the host organism (in this case, the largely captive general public, who’s ability to refuse to pay obscene ticket prices has been significantly eroded by the decisions of their governments to use their tax dollars to effectively force those consumers to support the teams via stadium subsidies) either may be dying, or should not be supporting as many parasites as it presently does.

    God forbid Mr. Levine and his ilk should actually have to earn their wages.

    I hope he does cut ties with Stub Hub. This will not be the solution he is hoping for, but will speed up the collapse of the false economy on which much of professional sports today is built.

    I liked the pig fuckers comment. Buy that man a beer…

  9. I didn’t expect to come to Field of Schemes and see “pig fuckers”, but here we are.

    Levine is also the same dick who scoffed at ABC reporter Charles Gibson whom visiting new Yankee Stadium & commented serving lobster at the ballpark is a sign your sport makes too much money.

    For me, besides the hassle, concessions (which I won’t even touch), the loudness & antics of the ballpark itself, even if the price of tickets is only a few bucks, it’s the $25 parking (and about 4 hour round-trip) that turns me off. The team being good or awful is actually moot. They just don’t make it easy. I can find plenty of much cheaper options to kill an afternoon or evening.