BOB: Ticket news galoreby Brian Borawski
May 20, 2009
Ticket technology advancementsWhile I’m sure there’s a ton that goes into ticket pricing, it sometimes seems like how prices are set is a crap shoot. If a team has a good season one year, you can usually expect a team to raise prices but even the teams with poor records will sometimes see a dollar or two added to their prices in a given year. This isn't to minimize the importance of ticket prices though—if you put people in the seats, they spend money in other ways whether it’s food or souvenirs. And one way to put people in the seats is to have a value-driven ticket pricing system.
The San Francisco Giants are now taking ticket pricing to the next level, and they’re experimenting with new software that will provide for fluctuations in ticket prices from game to game. Called “dynamic pricing,” the plan will consist of 500 bleacher and 1,500 reserve seats that will see their prices change depending on the game. The factors that will go into determining the ticket’s price will include the day of the week, the weather, the starting pitchers, whether there is a promotion or not and who the Giants are playing.
For now, it looks like other teams are looking at the software, but the Giants are the only ones giving it a try. The experiment will kick off next season.
Minor League Baseball tops five millionFor the ninth straight year, Minor League Baseball’s 11 full season leagues topped the five million mark in attendance in the month of April: 5,259,405 fans came out to see their teams, an average of just 3,720 per game. What’s most surprising is that despite the poor economy, this average is just 25 fewer fans per game than last year’s record-breaking season.
I wrote about this in the Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009, but the fact that minor league baseball is viewed as a value play may be working in its favor. The tickets are cheaper and the teams usually provide a more family-friendly environment; this gets even more pronounced the lower down the system you get. Because of this, I predicted that the minor leagues as a whole might get hit less hard than the major leagues.
Playoff games get earlier start timeYou figured something would have to give because I couldn’t think of a single person who was happy with the playoff start times. Rather than kicking off at around 8:40 p.m., both American League Championship games and World Series games will now begin around 8 p.m. While they wouldn’t give an exact time, Saturday games might start even earlier.
Another thing they have to work on, in my opinion, is the length of the game. At three hours and 16 minutes for last year’s playoff games on Fox, that puts things well above average, so now we’re looking at an 11:15 end time as opposed to the game wrapping up around midnight.
Yankees still having a hard time selling ticketsKeep in mind, all things are relative. The Yankees played the Twins on Friday night and there were “only” 43,856 fans in attendance. While most teams would kill for this mark, it’s still well below both expectations and the 52,325 capacity at Yankee Stadium. For now though, there is plenty of elbow room, especially in the expensive Legends seats. In short, Alex Rodriguez may be back on the field, but the Yankees are still going to be hard pressed to break their attendance record despite the brand new stadium.
Waterford, Mich. struggles with stadium issueNow I’m going to get really local. Waterford, Mich. is best known for producing Kirk Gibson, but it also happens to be where I live. A few years ago, a group had purchased a Frontier League team and everything was in place to build a stadium in the parking lot of what’s effectively a dead mall (less than 50 percent of the mall is occupied). The ground breaking was supposed to be last fall, but the money fell through after the whole banking crisis. Now the team is looking at a stock offering to try to come up with the money to get the stadium going.
In the same vein, two Frontier League teams were able to get something done and new stadiums are going up in both Avon, Ohio and Normal, Ill. Both are set to open in 2010 and the Avon stadium comes with a $12 million price tag while the Normal stadium is going to be paid with a combination of $12 million in private and public financing.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.