Not surprisingly, the Yankees’ decision to raise select ticket prices wasn’t a warmly received announcement, but a careful examination of the increases reveals very little impact to the average fan.
As illustrated in the chart above, the season ticket price of the bleachers is absorbing the highest percentage increase at 25%, while most areas of the Main section are rising by about 10%. On the field level, a new section was carved out of a pre-existing one (see revised Stadium Plan below), bringing along with it a $5 bump. Otherwise, the only two lower level sections to see a spike were the MVP area, which is still down 20% over 2009, as well as the Field seats approaching the foul pole down each line (the first few rows of seats behind each outfield wall used to be included in that same section, but they have been broken out into a new area that retains the original pricing).
Although raising prices in a down economic period is probably bad public relations, especially when the largest percentage increase comes in the lowest-priced area, the Yankees’ decision isn’t a greedy money grab, but rather a prudent adjustment dictated by the market. Not only has the demand for Yankees’ tickets remained at a high level from the box office, but the emergence of a transparent secondary market (via websites like StubHub) has created the opportunity for the team to accurately gauge the relevancy of its prices. Anyone who has shopped for tickets at online auction sites is probably aware that although tickets in some sections of Yankee Stadium sell at a premium, many actually go for a sizeable discount.
Not ironically, the seats that often receive the highest markup are the cheapest ones to buy directly from the Yankees (after factoring in the secondary market, the bleachers can actually wind up being more expensive than sections of the grandstand). So, although it may seem like a case of “taxing the poor”, increasing the price of bleacher tickets was a fair market response. After all, in addition to being inexpensive, the Yankee Stadium bleachers also offer a terrific viewing location, a combination that has made it a widely coveted section.
We’re not trying to take away the ability of fans to make a profit when they resell tickets, but the ones where we raised prices were not selling for just above face, but were far above face.” – Lonn Trost, Yankees Chief Operating Officer, quoted by AP
As Trost noted, those taking a hit are season ticketholders who had been enjoying favorable resale prices over the last two seasons. In that sense, these season plan holders aren’t really encountering a price increase as much as a resale profit reduction. When looked at in that light, it’s really hard to fault the Yankees for wanting to narrow that margin a little when it’s become obvious that the face value established is well below the price that the market will support.
To this point, we’ve examined the season ticket prices, but the impact is much more muted for advanced and game-day individual sales. In the bleachers, the increase is reduced to $1, or 7%, while a few small increases are scattered across the field and main levels as well as the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar. Otherwise, the only significant advanced and game-day increase is the 14-17% bump for those seeking entry to the Audi Club.
It makes good copy to criticize the Yankees for raising ticket prices, but when you consider the amount of revenue that the team pours back into the product on the field, the nominal increases planned for 2011 seem well within reason. Considering the value available on the secondary market, as well as the many discount promotions being run by the team in 2011, going to the Stadium is still relatively affordable. Of course, it’d be nice if attending a Yankees game was as inexpensive as the good old days, but keep that wish in mind the next time you are screaming for the next high-priced free agent.