Take Your Seats

We have a follow-up on our post earlier this year about frustration over the prices of seats at the new Yankee Stadium.  As we detailed in that missive, our decades-long season ticket holder friend was asked to make a substantial, decade-long multi-million dollar commitment to seats costing, for 2009, more than triple what he paid in 2008 in the old stadium.  He refused to re-up at that time and decided to wait out the situation since the numbers being bandied about were preposterous.  His patience has saved him a great deal of money. 

Late in 2008 he was able to re-up with the Yankees, albeit one section back from the rails, at 2008 prices ($220 a seat) and with no long-term commitment.  Not an insignificant indicator of where the economy stands at the moment, he is also able to pay in four installments as opposed to an up-front payment of more than $200K.  Our question about how the state of the economy has affected, and will affect, baseball teams remains to an extent unanswered, though we have an inkling this season ticket purchase is an indicator of some difficulties to come.  And, these difficulties will likely be endured all across the league.

12 comments… add one

  • They can’t be too desperate yet, I still haven’t got my call. I keep calling and they keep telling me to be patient. Granted I have only been a season ticket holder for one season…I just hope I don’t lose my awesome seats. You know how many people want to sit 5 rows from the top of the stadium. Uggh.

    John - YF January 6, 2009, 11:04 am
  • John, the team makes a much bigger margin on the seats down low than on yours, I wouldn’t imagine a call anytime soon! If they were trying to get a 200K commitment out of a long-time season ticket holder for the 2009 season, but instead got a 60K+ commitment, they still have those more expensive seats to fill – my friend had a choice, even as late as November, though the team was trying to force his hand in the late Spring. In May he was given something of an ultimatum, but the seats remained available all year, even as the economy got pummeled. So the Yankees have just filled a stellar seat at 2008 prices (one might say that they have actually gotten a premium considering the economy), but now they have to find a new buyer for my friend’s old empty seats at 2009’s inflated prices, unadjusted (still) for the financial mess surrounding us. Though the team has seemed quite casually confident about the ability to do so, my guess is that in this economy they will not have such an easy time, they will have to lower their price to move it (if they need to move it); the fact is that seats are still empty and available down near the field.
    In the end this may have minimal impact on their bottom line revenue, the team may be flush from other stadium sources, but regardless the team has not been able to sell a seat to a targeted buyer with financial means, and that speaks to the economic situation at hand.

    SF January 6, 2009, 11:19 am
  • well, if the NFL, having a hard time selling out playoff games (at a discount!) is any indication, things could be pretty rough from an attendance standpoint.

    dw (sf) January 6, 2009, 11:51 am
  • Oh I 100% understand SF, I was being funny or at least trying…
    Your answer is basically the same answer I get from the ticket agent when I call…Not any time soon. I feel like I am going to get a call on opening day at this point…

    John - YF January 6, 2009, 11:56 am
  • If you’re on a partial plan, I was told yesterday that it should be sometime in early February. The woman said they’re still working their way through the full-season holders, probably because, like the friend, they have to basically work with everyone’s wishes and needs especially if they can’t afford certain tickets any longer. So they try to give them the next best seat for their price range.
    The team is inflating prices so heavily on the front-row seats to undercut the brokers (and the fans that sell to them) who charge those rates any way. I don’t see any scenario where the Yankees cut prices. Remember, they sold over 4 million tickets in 2008, for a third place team, and they have fewer seats to sell in 2009 cause the new joint is smaller. So I don’t see the Yanks hurt even if they sell only 3 million tickets.

    Rob January 6, 2009, 12:24 pm
  • I highly doubt the Yankees will have many issues this coming season. When the Celtics and Bruins opened the Fleet Center many years ago there was residual anger at the demolition of the storied Garden but still heavy demand for a new, modern facility. The teams filled the seats. For a while. The hardships came in when the teams skidded and the allure of the new arena wore off. Add in some league-wide issues in the NHL and the Bruins were, for many years, playing to terrible audiences. With Yankee Stadium there is something of a built-in insurance policy, a wealthy franchise with a TV station and owners who spend. But the issues may crop up not this year but next year or the year after, if there are injuries, another lean season, the novelty of the new park wears off a little, etc. The Yankees played to empty houses many years ago, and things have obviously changed. But we shouldn’t all assume that everything will be just fine for the Yankees (or any other team) just because they are fine now.

    SF January 6, 2009, 1:04 pm
  • True. But if the economy is still in trouble in three years, the whole sport is in trouble.
    That’s also a benefit the Yankees have, besides all those you mention. They’re the firewall for the modern version sport. If they’re hurting everyone is already hurting. I don’t think we’ll see another year where they’re struggling to fill seats and other stadiums are full. Meanwhile, between mlb.com and the new channel, the sport is doing very well. The reports I’ve seen said they could raise Billions in a IPO for just the digital properties.
    Any one else watch the press conference. Damn, Teixeira is much smoother than I thought. Turns out he kept asking the wife where he should play and two weeks before the deadline she finally said “The Yankees”. He also said how he grew up going to O’s games but wearing a Yankee hat because of Don Mattingly.

    Rob January 6, 2009, 1:34 pm
  • But if the economy is still in trouble in three years, the whole sport is in trouble.
    This makes me wonder, and surely someone has written something about this, how baseball survived the Great Depression. Did revenues tank? Did salaries plummet? I would guess the sport, ironically, would have had an easier time withstanding the shocks of a poor economy because the teams themselves dictated the salaries. We know baseball boomed in the 1930s in terms of popularity — likely because of the hard economic times — and it’s reasonable to expect that more fans will turn to baseball again as a diversion, but of course tickets are far more expensive, even adjusting for inflation, and there are at least four viable competitors for that scarce entertainment dollar (NBA, NFL, NASCAR and movies). I would like to see a comparison of the sport as it stood in 1929/1933, where it stood when the players returned (and the Depression ended) in 1945, and how each of those states compares to baseball today.

    Paul SF January 6, 2009, 3:31 pm
  • Turns out he kept asking the wife where he should play and two weeks before the deadline she finally said “The Yankees”.
    Hahaha. Tex is hysterical, as well as smooth, and, gosh I am such a cynic, a fabulist. It used to annoy me, but give me Jeter and his (really smart) say-nothingness any day over this tripe.
    I guess “they have a chance to win, a nice luxurious new stadium with perks, offered me the most money and a full no-trade clause, control over where I might end up if the relationship sours — and frankly the order of those things is pretty much irrelevant isn’t it?” doesn’t really make a great press conference sound bite.

    SF January 6, 2009, 6:11 pm
  • “Turns out he kept asking the wife where he should play and two weeks before the deadline she finally said “The Yankees”.”
    I think he was pre-emptively throwing his wife under the bus in case this whole thing turns sour on him.

    I'mBillMcNeal January 7, 2009, 12:24 am
  • This makes me wonder, and surely someone has written something about this, how baseball survived the Great Depression.
    Ask and ye shall receive:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/sports/baseball/07depression.html?ref=sports
    frankly the order of those things is pretty much irrelevant isn’t it?
    By last reports, the Sox offered just over $170 million. That’s less than a 10% difference and he’ll be paying that in city and state taxes. So it wasn’t the money.
    Do you think it was the no-trade clause? How much do you think the stadium helped? Otherwise, there’s very little difference between the two teams. Think the Sox should start offering no-trades? Or time to get a new ballpark?

    Rob January 7, 2009, 9:05 am
  • “…give me Jeter and his (really smart) say-nothingness any day over this tripe….”
    …i’ll bet it wouldn’t have sounded as much like “tripe” if the wife had said “the redsox”, and tex was standing at the podium in one of those snappy new ‘hanging sox’ ball caps…

    dc January 7, 2009, 9:49 am

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