Sore Thumbs, Missing Fannies

The NYT picks up the no-one's-showing-up thread, regarding the luxury seating at YS and Shea (yeah, that's what I'm calling it). Nice to see a quote in there from our pal Maury Brown. Once again, large swaths of the park empty during tonite's win over the A's; Pete Abe claims the place was library-quiet. PS: prices go up next year! Ugh. 

43 comments… add one

  • Just back from the game. The empty seats were worse than last saturday for sure. Not the best weather but still more sparse than you’d expect. They did announce a crowd of 42,000. If they just average that many, they draw 3.4 mil this year. So aesthetically it may look bad, but its not quite as bad as its being made out to be.
    As to the quiet, I really didnt notice it as anything unusual. I mean there were quiet parts of the game but thats normal. During the scoring in the second, a few big Ks, Damon’s HR and for Mo’s entrance there was plenty of noise. I was in the upper deck, so perhaps the sound didnt carry down to the lower levels…

    sam-YF April 21, 2009, 11:14 pm
  • that would be a drop of what, though? more than half a million? and there are fans that would certainly be willing to go, if it were priced more fairly. it’s a real shame. for everyone, certainly doesn’t do the team any good to miss out on all that revenue. we’ll see what happens. according to pete abe the brass is scrambling to address the problem, but once again that nyt piece has randy levine in full-on denial, nevermind the obvious.

    YF April 21, 2009, 11:41 pm
  • Incidentally, the ball was not flying anywhere like it was this weekend. There is some hope that this place wont be a launching pad…we’ll see.

    sam-YF April 21, 2009, 11:48 pm
  • YF – I agree with you to a point but at the same time, attendance is down across baseball so this isnt a new stadium/Yankees problem alone. For example, the sox arent selling out all of their games anymore and the Giants just announced they are discounting tickets for games vs the dodgers (their biggest rivals) in May. The new stadium is certainly part of the issue but I think the economy’s factor isnt being considered enough. Its hard to say that if the Yankees didnt build a new stadium they would be drawing more people now. The most certainly would be seeing a drop off from last year. Further, comparisons to last year’s figures don’t really work completely since the final season aspect added to the draw too. My point was that drawing 3.5 mil people in a recession is pretty darn good and will be a number that will grow in time.
    It sucks that the stadium is party empty but in this economy Im not surprised. The Yankees should have realized the economic issues and adjusted their prices during the off-season but there are a variety of reasons this may not have been a viable option. I really think that over time these issues are gonna be resolved.

    sam-YF April 22, 2009, 1:01 am
  • Sam, you keep nailing this nonsense out of the, er, park. And of course this new park is smaller than the old one (they couldn’t top 4 million even with a sell out every game) and last year was sort of, um, different being the last year and all. If the Yanks draw 3.5 million, the brass will be mighty pleased. And guess who tops baseball in average home attendance?
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance
    I really think that over time these issues are gonna be resolved.
    Yup. Like right now on ebay and stubhub. Three days later and not one bid on my tix at 50% off. Unless I’m not pricing these $20 tickets “fairly”…

    Rob April 22, 2009, 7:30 am
  • For example, the sox arent selling out all of their games anymore
    This isn’t true. Though there is speculation that the recession could mean the en of the sellout streak sometime this season, that has not happened yet. So far, all that’s happened is ticket prices on the secondary and tertiary markets have lowered, which I count as good news for average fans like me.

    Paul SF April 22, 2009, 7:37 am
  • Baseball attendance is down 6% across the sport. I think April attendance is actually low, historically. But Yankee Stadium attendance is down 20% from last year, and it is irrelevant what maximum capacity is, other than to bolster YFs point: more seats were available at affordable prices, so therefore this drop in attendance is a combination of the pricey seats not getting filled and there being fewer cheapies. No matter which way you slice it, this is not a good thing for the average/below average consumer.
    There is this intellectual chasm it seems between being able acknowledge that what is good for the Yankee brass or business might actually be bad for the consumer. I don’t really understand the somewhat vapid and almost reflexive boosterism for the new park, just because the “brass” is counting dollars.

    SF April 22, 2009, 7:50 am
  • Hmmm, so let me get this straight, you’re comparing last year’s Yankee attendance to this year’s? In order for that comparison to actually work the baseline has to be the same. It isn’t. You even say so. That “20%” is an illusion because it’s not a kosher comparison. Fewer seats to sell, combined with maximum capacity in 2008, means they were always going to show a significant drop even if they sold out every single game.
    Then there’s this:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance
    As to this nonsense about affordable prices: I have two tickets to next Friday’s game. $20 each. Any takers?

    Rob April 22, 2009, 8:03 am
  • “I don’t really understand the somewhat vapid and almost reflexive boosterism for the new park, just because the “brass” is counting dollars.”
    SF, Im not sure if this comment was aimed at me but if it is I really think its an unfair characterization of my opinions here. Im on the record saying that I think there are issues with park. I do believe there is as much of reflex to NOT like the park from some quarters as there is to “boost” the park from others. Ill let you tell me if it was directed at me before I respond further.

    sam-YF April 22, 2009, 8:48 am
  • can’t resist commenting again about the beating this poor dead horse is still taking…no, i’m not trying to shut off the debate, but i suggested the other day that maybe the discussions have played out…sure, the yankees were short-sighted to think that they could sell that many seats for $2500, or their forecast [hopefully they did one] of demand for tickets at that price was poorly executed…but it’s only april…and like rob says, there are plenty of more affordable options…other than the fact it looks goofy on tv [maybe they could get a bunch of those life-sized cardboard celebrities to stick in the empty seats, just for tv, like the kid in "home alone"], i don’t think any of us knows how the “specially-priced” seats fit into the yankee business plan…did they figure to make money even if those seats remained empty all season, as long as they average 40,000 fans, making those premium seats some tasty gravy for further endeavours?…i dunno, and neither do any of you…i can guess though, and i’d say when it comes to the yankees, avoiding embarrassment is as important as making money, so for now, like the rest of us, they have less tasty gravy, and will focus on the embarrassment of empty seats, at any price… gee,for a gang who lectures about not using small sample sizes to draw grandiose conclusions, i’m surprised to see attendance figures extrapolated so wantonly after just a handful of games, and the characterization of the stadium as a bandbox because of a flukish couple of games “trend?”, one of which was pitched by a guy with an era of 34.50 followed by a mop up guy who was clearly lost…since there’s only been a few homers in the past 2 games, can we now declare “problem solved”?…or, do we wait a bit longer to get a bigger sample size?…

    dc April 22, 2009, 9:25 am
  • I don’t know. Part of it reminds me of this line of thinking: if you get an A in a class, it means you’re good, but perhaps even better, just that you were limited by the grading system. Getting A- means that’s your grade.
    You can kind of say that about the new stadiums. That said, other than looking bad, I don’t know the math and if it matters. Maybe if this continues, I’ll get to go to a few more games at “discounted” prices!

    Lar April 22, 2009, 9:26 am
  • It’s a fine point, Lar, but the Yankees are still leading the majors in home attendance. That seems like an “A” to me.
    Sure they misjudged some price levels. I don’t think anyone’s saying they didn’t. The Mets did too. I know I would love to see a Dutch auction for all seats. It would be more accurate and it would squeeze scalpers that much more.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 9:36 am
  • I’m not sure about the Dutch auctions because I think the theory is that the more expensive tickets somewhat subsidies for the cheaper tickets. I’m not sure if this is true though..

    Lar April 22, 2009, 10:26 am
  • rob, i think you’re missing the salient point regarding this issue, as usual. sam: i don’t think sf was referring to you. but let’s be clear, the yankees took a huge public subsidy to build a park substantially weighted toward high-end consumers, and now those consumers aren’t showing up. so large swaths of great seats are empty, while the upper decks are pretty well packed.
    i agree we’ve all jumped the gun a bit on the launching pad (but we are here to have fun); that said, it has been extremely offense friendly, and there are good reasons to look at that, beyond stat noise.

    YF April 22, 2009, 10:38 am
  • subsidies for the cheaper tickets.
    Really? You don’t mean to suggest they’re losing money on cheaper seats, do you? I would find that shocking.
    To my mind, a dutch auction would be pretty sweet. Do each level on different days. It’s complicated but thankfully we have software. Then no one could complain about price – the market set them. The highs wouldn’t be so high, but I’d be surprised if the lows came back as low. For me, $20/ticket is a real bargain. That is, in a Dutch auction I would have paid more for the same seats if I got nothing lower.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 10:44 am
  • but let’s be clear, the yankees took a huge public subsidy to build a park substantially weighted toward high-end consumers, and now those consumers aren’t showing up. so large swaths of great seats are empty, while the upper decks are pretty well packed.
    Those high-end consumers pay far-and-away more taxes, so that point is somewhat moot.
    The organization will readjust their prices soon enough. Given how the economy has collapsed I think they deserve a free pass for not hitting the nail on the head on their first swing with their ticket pricing/demand.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 10:51 am
  • Look at me, defending the Yankees organization. I knew I didn’t feel right when I woke up this morning.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 10:56 am
  • I think they deserve a free pass for not hitting the nail on the head on their first swing
    No, they most certainly do not deserve a free pass. You pinpoint the issue succinctly: they used public money “to build a park substantially weighted toward high-end consumers”. That had nothing to do with the current economy: that was their intended goal, and it’s a remarkably cynical one. Had they used private money to build it you would hear nothing from me. They deserve no free pass.

    SF April 22, 2009, 11:04 am
  • I’m done with this topic. You guys let your outrage stew.
    Meanwhile, I’ll pray for something as progressive as a dutch auction. Let’s see how they game a transparently free market system toward high-end customers.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 11:09 am
  • And great point, Atheose.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 11:10 am
  • they used public money “to build a park substantially weighted toward high-end consumers”
    The assertion that it is weighted toward high-end consumers is based on what? The price of tickets. They priced them based on what they thought the demand was. They were wrong. Like any business they’ll probably readjust accordingly until they find the sweet spot.
    I don’t see what is so outrageous about this. IIRC there was an outcry over the price of many seats when Citizens Bank Park opened, and based on demand a few of the higher-priced sections were adjusted. The only links I can find right now are from Philadelphia Enquirer, and none of them are free to view.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 11:17 am
  • They used public money to squeeze as much money out of the public as possible. You don’t see the problem with this, the irony? Worse, in the process of trying to squeeze this money out of the public they have made many decisions and created policies within the stadium about access that are exclusionary and cynical, and quite terrible in experiential terms for those who do visit. This is a problem, and something for which they most certainly do not deserve a free pass – they deserve criticism, scorn, and to feel it in their wallets. For this is about the only way to get them to adjust their policies. As I mentioned in other treads, I believe the Yankees will re-assess their decisions, there is money at stake, but positive changes to these aspects in and of themselves doesn’t make those original decisions or goals any less wrongheaded or cynical.

    SF April 22, 2009, 11:21 am
  • Well at least we’re at the root of the argument: you think that it’s wrong for them to try to price seats based on supply/demand, whereas I do not.
    I don’t picture the Steinbrenners in a back office looking over a seating chart and saying “These sections here will be priced at $1000 because we want more money. Yes, YES!” The pricing is based on supply/demand predictions, which they probably paid a consulting firm to predict. The economy’s free-fall can account for this being off in certain sections. They’ll adjust, and everything will be fine. Again, this is not unique to the new Yankee Stadium.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 11:30 am
  • they have made many decisions and created policies within the stadium about access that are exclusionary
    I agree completely, many of their policies regarding access for fans are idiotic. However this is not the same thing as seat-pricing being off, and is not part of some overarching plan to kick each Yankee fan in the crotch.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 11:34 am
  • you think that it’s wrong for them to try to price seats based on supply/demand, whereas I do not.
    No, I don’t think that at all. It is clear from having visited the Stadium that the Yankees intentionally created segregated areas and are enforcing policies that exacerbate and exaggerate how primary they considered revenue generation, all this done at the expense of the greater collective experience, which is what great ballparks celebrate. The stadium is a machine for revenue first, a community experience second. That is the major issue I (and YF, I believe) have with the facility. Not that it doesn’t have good architectural moments (it has some, if not many), or that it doesn’t evoke some elements of the old stadium, or that it doesn’t do certain things better than the previous park, but rather that it quite clearly articulates the motivations of the landlords. And the landlords built their building with the money of their segregated tenants, even worse. If the Yankees adjust their policies (and prices), that’s fine – the architecture is certainly capable of accepting this change without physical alteration, to an extent. We’ll see.

    SF April 22, 2009, 11:40 am
  • atheose: “supply and demand” only works in a free market. you’re not dealing with a free market. it’s not a reasonable analogy here; it fails to account for the entire structure of the physical space. it’s not worth arguing with you and rob on this, however. it seems blatantly obvious to most of the world that the yanks have created a caste system, and that having massive empty zones adjacent to the field is basically a disaster, financially, in terms of pr, in terms of fan experience, and what it says about the team’s motivations and really what it represents about corporate america. so you can argue all you want here, but the facts are so clearly aligned against you, and so obvious, that it’s pointless.

    YF April 22, 2009, 11:45 am
  • Broken record: YF and I are in total agreement on this issue, though I would venture that there is some element of “supply and demand” that applies to any stadium, including YS2.5, even in the absence of a true “free market” that YF correctly alludes to.

    SF April 22, 2009, 11:56 am
  • YF, if the pricing is incorrect (which is obviously is) then the Yankees will change it. How is this not a concept of supply and demand, whether it’s a completely free market or not?
    I haven’t been to the new stadium, so maybe there is a glaring segregation for some sections that I haven’t seen. But at the Ballpark in Arlington, and Camden Yards (the only two newish stadia I’ve visited), there are blocked off sections for the higher-priced tickets as well. As I stated above I think the policy regarding kids trying to get autographs is stupid, but the idea of keeping certain sections apart from each other is not a feature new or unique to Yankee Stadium.
    I think saying “it seems blatantly obvious to most of the world that the yanks have created a caste system” is a little extreme. Sure, the Yankees were motivated by money. They charged a price that they thought people would pay, and they are wrong on some of the higher-priced seats. I again feel that the blame should be placed on whatever consulting firm chose those prices.
    Determining demand in this free-falling economy is not an easy thing to do. Predicting a price and then adjusting it based on demand is something that I think the Yankees should be allowed to do without being ostracized by everybody.
    As for “most of the world” being outraged, I think the new York media has a little bit to do with that. Would ARod’s every move be a big deal if he weren’t in New York? No. I similarly feel that the media in NYC has latched onto this story because the economy is tanking, the publishing/journalism industry is dead, and everyone wants somebody to blame. The Yankees, as always, are an easy target.
    Since we disagree on some of the basic assumptions in this argument, I think we can agree to disagree at this point since neither side is going to convince the other, and there’s there’s baseball on in a few minutes. Assuming mother nature isn’t a bitch again.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 12:13 pm
  • This caste system is alive and well in most new parks. To get to the best seats in PacBell (or whatever the hell the stadium the Giants play in these days is called) one enters through a tunnel under the seats above. These sections have their own food areas, bathrooms, and entrance to the park. This stadium is widely considered one of the best new parks in the game.
    The issue I have here about this long and now becoming slightly tiresome debate is that its being made out to be a Yankee-specific issue. Clearly this is a Yankee-related blog but I think the criticism from our moderators lacks the context of what the Yankees as an organization did when compared with other new stadiums. Again, its also important to contextualize the decisions they made about pricing, etc in the time and financial environment in which they were made. They made these decisions based on what they thought the market would bear and were clearly wrong. The reasons for them being wrong were both entirely their own fault and not their fault at all. I think the moderators focus primarily on the first (as is their right to do). Its fun and easy to make the yankees out to be a big evil corporation but it really does not tell the full story here.

    sam-YF April 22, 2009, 12:27 pm
  • Again, its also important to contextualize the decisions they made about pricing, etc in the time and financial environment in which they were made.
    Part of that context, in fact the most important piece of that context, is the hundreds of millions of dollars of public money used to pay for the park.

    SF April 22, 2009, 12:31 pm
  • The issue I have here about this long and now becoming slightly tiresome debate is that its being made out to be a Yankee-specific issue.
    Couldn’t agree more. That’s why I disagree with the assertion that the Yankees are “wrongheaded or cynical.” To borrow a phrase that SF uses often, this is par for the course for new stadia.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 12:34 pm
  • The contradiction here is that this “caste system” is biased against the rich. They’re the ones not showing up! The “have-not’s” are packing “their” sections!
    My head hurts.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 12:39 pm
  • http://armchairgm.wikia.com/Citizens_Bank_Park
    Public financing: 174m
    Private financing: 172m
    I’m too lazy to look up other new stadia, but I’m sure you’ll find that nearly all are funded with public money. Again, this is not unique to Yankee Stadium.

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 12:41 pm
  • “Part of that context, in fact the most important piece of that context, is the hundreds of millions of dollars of public money used to pay for the park.”
    Sorry I dont agree with you on this SF. It is part of the context, not necessarily the most important. Either way, this part of the context has been discussed here, the others that I brought up really have not been discussed in the same way. Besides public funding for stadiums is a pretty standard thing for all parks, not the yankees alone. These other parks also have similar pricing systems, etc to the new YS.

    sam-YF April 22, 2009, 12:42 pm
  • Part of that context, in fact the most important piece of that context, is the hundreds of millions of dollars of public money used to pay for the park.
    In real world terms, what should this mean? Price controls on seats, food, and parking? A public ownership stake in the team or stadium? Every seat under $100? Please tell me what you’re for. That’s much more helpful than emoting what you’re against.
    What’s interesting in a representative democracy is you guys have more actual say on these issues than I do by virtue of living in NY city and state. They’re your tax dollars. So perhaps you can tell me what the people of the city and state did to affect this process as it was happening? The fine journalists in the city must have been writing scathing editorials and the people must have been picketing at city hall, no?

    Rob April 22, 2009, 12:44 pm
  • Furthermore, you guys need to define how you use the term public funding. This stadium itself actually used very little (if any) public funding to pay for the stadium itself. As far as I can recall, the taxpayer picked up the bill on transportation improvements around the stadium and by issuing a tax-free bond which the Yankees will be paying back over time. There was no funding to pay for the construction costs themselves. Please correct me if Im wrong here.

    sam-YF April 22, 2009, 12:46 pm
  • I take it back, I’m not too lazy. Public financing:
    Nationals Park: $610m (100%)
    Ballpark in Arlington: $135m (71%)
    Comerica Park: $115m (38%)
    Camden Yards: $101m (96%)

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 12:52 pm
  • They’re going to rail against the parkland, Sam. That was given to the team, or more accurately, exchanged for other parkland. That concerned me too at the time. But it was up to the residents of the city to fight against it. They obviously didn’t do a very good job. I’d love to know for instance if YF or SF attended any of the hearings in the Bronx and asked their friends to do the same.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 12:59 pm
  • Ok, so let me guess – you’re agitated most by the use of public funding but you didn’t do anything to rally support against it at the time? Not even one sign in your home windows?
    Now, the effect of said agitation is to make seats cheaper for the $100+ crowd. Seems like the NY media is getting played (or doing the playing) as usual. I bet all those financial firms would love to spend half as much on Yankee tickets. They save money and save face!
    The logic of class warefare….it goes nowhere fast.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 2:15 pm
  • It sure got quiet in here in a hurry. I guess we win, Rob?
    http://www.ihighfive.com

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 3:47 pm
  • No, Ath, I have a job.
    ;-)

    SF April 22, 2009, 6:00 pm
  • Indeed, Atheose, indeed. The silence is deafening….sort of like the huge public outcry from NYers when the stadium deals were announced. Instead, people like Abraham and even Vecsey were pimping how much the new stadium was needed. Now? It’s a playground for the rich, even as the rich aren’t showing up. Priceless.

    Rob April 22, 2009, 7:04 pm
  • You should get a job where you sit around waiting for computers to break, SF!

    Atheose April 22, 2009, 7:28 pm

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