Whenever a long, emotional relationship ends in a breakup, there’s always a tendency to question whether it was the right move, and whether more should have been done to salvage the relationship.
My breakup with my Yankees season tickets was no exception. Ever since I made the decision in January (see link above for the reasoning behind it), I’ve had lingering doubts as to whether it was the right move, and whether I should have done more to try to keep my seats.
The Yankees are now midway through the first home stand of this young 2011 Major League Baseball season, and there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right move, although I still wish I wasn’t driven in that direction.
I posted an entry last month about how the Yankees ticket office — usually abrupt, condescending, and not the least bit flexible — has been changing its tune. Now I see why.
The number of empty seats in the field level (and not just the Legends Suite ultra-expensive seats, but throughout the 100 level) is embarrassing. And the huge pockets of empty seats in the terrace (300) level have been equally embarrassing.
My theory: People who had field-level seats in the real Yankee Stadium were priced out when the team moved across the street, and many were fortunate to grab seats in the main (200) level. The same goes for people who had seats in the tier boxes (600 level) in the old ballpark, and were able to secure the only affordable seats in the new stadium, the grandstand (400 level).
Throughout this home stand, the 100 and 300 levels have been virtually deserted, while the 200 and 400 levels, along with the bleachers, have been packed. And it will likely stay that way. On Opening Day, during the fifth inning, I counted exactly 10 people in one of the Jim Beam Club sections, behind home plate in the 300 level. Seriously?
I realize it’s only the first few games of the season, and baseball attendance throughout the league tends to heat up in tandem with the weather, but, Opening Day aside, the Yankees have enjoyed comfortable weather, along with games against two stellar, playoff-caliber opponents (the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins).
The biggest issue, in my opinion, is that a lot of the tickets are just plain overpriced. I recognize that the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and that no other team has been in contention every single season since the strike-shortened 1994 campaign (you could argue that 2008 doesn’t qualify, but it’s not like the club finished 62-100). But when it comes down to it, $95 to sit in fair territory in left field on the field level is ridiculous. You are a minimum of 350 feet from home plate, and the only thing you have a good view of is Brett Gardner’s ass. I am a huge fan of Gardner as a ballplayer, but I don’t roll that way. Even if I wanted to look at his rear end, his size-nine head would likely distract me.
The same goes for the terrace level. The 300 level in the new Yankee Stadium is higher and further from the field than the tier boxes at the old park, and one of the reasons why I gave up my tickets was that I felt that sitting that high and that far simply wasn’t worth $55 per seat. I would have gladly moved to the grandstand or the bleachers, but the latter are thoroughly sold out (at $12 per seat for season tickets, there’s no need to explain why), and the available seats in the former were in the top rows in the outfield. As much as I love going, I’d rather sit on my couch or in a bar than behind the foul pole, four rows from the top of the stadium.
I mentioned in my earlier blog post about giving up the seats that by basically forcing people into buying season tickets, the Yankees created a culture of “ticket brokers.” Those ticket brokers are getting their asses handed to them.
I looked up my old section (314) on StubHub for tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 6). The forecast is quite comfortable (59 degrees, no rain), and CC Sabathia, the clear ace of the staff, is pitching against the Minnesota Twins, a perennial playoff team. My old seats were in row six, and the face value was (and still is) $55. Yet, if I wasn’t going bowling that night, I could sit in row eight for $15, in my old row for $17, in row three for $17, or in row two for the princely sum of $19. Translation: The people selling these seats are taking losses of $36-$40 per ticket on $55 tickets.
A common argument whenever I bring this subject up is the opportunity to sell tickets to the “big” games at a hefty profit. Yes, that opportunity exists, but one of the main reasons why fans want season tickets in the first place is to be guaranteed seats for Boston, or the Mets, or Philadelphia, or Tampa. Being forced to sell them in order to make up for losses on other games defeats the entire purpose, and the same applies to the postseason. Guaranteed playoff tickets are one of the biggest attractions of season tickets, but some of us would actually like to go to the games, and not sit around monitoring StubHub and figuring out how much we can make.
I’d love to think that the Yankees will have an epiphany and realize that the pricing structure is completely out of whack, similar to what happened with the most expensive seats in the ballpark during the inaugural 2009 season. The thought of hooking up with an old flame again is truly appealing. But I know that sort of thinking is completely unrealistic.