Friday, March 4, 2011

The $600 Baseball Tickets

It's March and Major League Baseball spring training is in full swing in both Florida and Arizona. The season starts in less than a month. Late last year when this season's schedule for the Cincinnati Reds was released I discovered a series of games that are of great interest to me.  For the first time since 2003 the New York Yankees are scheduled to play 3 games at Great American Ballpark this June.

I haven't seen my favorite baseball team play in person since the last time they were in Cincinnati. I waited anxiously for the day single game tickets to go on sale. That happened on February 26th.

It was a Saturday and I had to work. But when I got home I went online to get my tickets. I quickly discovered that I'm being blackmailed by the Reds. Well maybe "blackmail" is too harsh a word but my options are very very limited. Let me explain. 

The Yankees are the most popular team in major league baseball. They sell out games not only at their home stadium in the Bronx but on the road as well. They are the goose that lays the golden eggs for all the other 29 teams.

So it only makes business sense that when the Yankees come to town the marketing departments of the teams they visit get the most revenue as they can from their Yankees dates. That's good for the club's bottom line but not for the fans whose pockets are the source of that extra cash. 

Now back to my online ticket buying experience. As I said I called up the Red's website and looked for the availability of tickets for the Yankees games in June. Much to my dismay the Yankees tickets could only be purchased as part of a season ticket package. The smallest of them are 4 games. 

If I wanted Yankee game tickets I'd have to commit buying tickets for 3 other Reds games. The least expensive tickets for the packages were $75 per ticket. That means to get tickets for my wife and me to a Yankees game at Great American Ballpark would cost me $600 ($300 per plan). 

Now you could say that it's not $600 for one game it's for 4. But if I don't buy at least 4 tickets I can't get the ticket I want. My alternative is to go to a place that resells tickets. Stub Hub is my website of choice. But the price of the tickets for the June games are extremely inflated. You can't get a ticket in the lower deck for less than $90. That's a lot less than the season ticket package but still more than I'm willing to pay for a ticket to one game. The highest upper deck "nosebleed" seats are $46. Too much for too little.

Let's put this in perspective. At it's most expensive the price for one day at a Disney Park (a one day non-park hopper pass) is $82. That's good for admission for the entire day to one of the 4 parks. Even with the shortest of operation hours you'd get at least 8 hours of entertainment for that price. A theater ticket for a live performance may cost $75 or more but that's for a seat that's very close to the stage in a venue where the actors don't look like "blips".

A baseball game, with only a few exceptions, usually lasts 4 hours at the most. That means at $75 a ticket to the games in question are twice as expensive as a day at Walt Disney World.

If I had to sum what I'm trying to say in a single phrase it would be "price point." That's a marketing term I learned from watching the current season of the cable show "Pitchmen". Now this is not an "official" definition but here's what I've come to understand "Price Point" means. Its the maximum at which the price of a product or service can be sold and still be considered of high value to the buyer.  

Now I would really love to go see the Yankees play in Cincinnati in June. But I am not going to be forced to spend $90 for a ticket or $300 for 4-game season ticket package. It's very a poor value to me. I won't be going to a Yankees/Reds game this year.

That's a decision the Reds have forced me into. That really makes me mad. I'm tempted to boycott all of their games this season. But I've promised Paula I'd take her to her first major league game this year. The closeness of the Red's ballpark makes it the obvious choice. Perhaps alternatives would be St. Louis or Wrigley Field in Chicago.

So now that I've complained this much I must admit that I realize that nobody cares about my dilemma. But this is my blog and I"ll cry if I want to. I'll also have to face the fact that if I want to see the Yankees play the Reds this year it's going to have to be at home sitting on my couch watching on my TV.     

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