Remember the days when it felt like the Mets’ owners just viewed their fans as walking wallets? They still screw up sometimes, but they’re doing better. (Winning also helps.)
Yankees fans aren’t so lucky. This week, the Yankees announced that they are doing away with print-at-home tickets, ostensibly over counterfeiting concerns. Traditional paper tickets, which can also be counterfeited, are still being used.
So it really seems like an escalation of the Yankees’ war against StubHub. The new policy adds an extra barrier to buying tickets from StubHub on the day of the game – you would have to pick up your paper tickets at a StubHub office about half a mile away from the stadium.
If you buy your tickets on the Yankees’ ticket exchange, which will not let sellers offer their tickets below the face price, you will be able to have them sent to your smartphone. (No smartphone? You’re still out of luck.)
When Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost went on WFAN’s Boomer and Carton show, he made his feelings about some of his team’s fans pretty clear:
“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 their ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it frustrates 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.”
Trost is being a bit ingenous when he talks about premium seat tickets selling for $1.50, but even if that happend, so what? When you go to a baseball game, do you ask the person next to you how much they paid for their seats?
Cal Ripken Jr. wants to turn youth baseball into baseketball to attract more kids, but it’s clear that teams have an idea about which fans should be at MLB games.
Roger Dean Stadium, spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins, got rid of the popular right field grass berm (ticket cost: $15-$20) and replaced it with a new 136-seat club section (ticket cost: $52-$60).
That’s just the latest example of what happens almost every time a ballpark gets renovated or replaced… affordable seats get replaced with more expensive ones.
On some level, the folks in charge at MLB want to go back to the days when baseball was America’s game. But it’s going to be hard for that to happen as long as executives keep making decisions that prioritize maximizing short-term revenue gains over growing the number of baseball fans.