Friday, March 27, 2009

Banking On Opening Day Tickets! Did the Mets Misread The Market?

I've gone to every Mets Home Opener for as long as I can remember. When I would take the day off of work to go to the game, I insisted HR record the day off as a "personal holiday" and not just a vacation day.

This year, I will not be there. By choice.

I would love to be there. LOOVE to be there. But the price has been set too high for me.

For the past several years, the only way to get into Opening Day at Shea Stadium was to buy a six, seven, or eight game ticket plan (depending on the year). This year the Mets made available a FIFTEEN game pack that included Opening Day. The prices weren't too bad, but the games thrown into the mix with the Opener were not exactly gold must-see. All the games were weeknights (or weekdays). The lowest price for the pack was about $300 a seat. I live in Central Jersey and have a one year old son. Maybe when I was 21, single, and living on Long Island I could go to fifteen weeknight games, but that's just not realistic now. I also was a little put off by the way the Mets tried to leverage the one game they knew everyone wanted to be at to get people to buy tickets they knew they'd have the hardest time selling.

I passed.

As a long time plan holder, the Mets called me to ask why I wasn't renewing.

I explained my rationale, and the salesperson (nice fellow) reasoned with me that by not buying the fifteen game plan I was missing out on an opportunity to get goood seats in the new ballpark, and that I could just sell any tickets for games I couldn't get to on StubHub.

I passed.

This week the Mets announced that they were making a special FIVE game pack available that included Opening Day and any other four games in April or May. On the surface, this was a much better deal than the fifteen game pack (previously marketed as the only guaranteed way to Opening Day), and folks who bought the fifteen game pack were rightfully miffed. There was still a catch though, to this five game pack. These tickets were field level, and had a much higher price point. Even though you could pick any five games, you would have a hard time getting a package for less that $485.

I passed.

I have paid about $100 for a baseball ticket exactly one time. Once. A guy I knew knew a guy who had front row season tickets to Shea a few years back and a group of us took advantage. I forget the actual price but it was around $100 a seat. I did that once. I would do it again, for Opening Day 2009, because it's a very special occassion. But there is no way I am going to commit to five games at about $100 a pop. For a baseball game! Insane.

Like I said, I do want to go to Opening Day. And I've been watching the ticket availability on StubHub and other broker sites. In early winter you couldn't get an Opening Day seat to Citi Field for less than $1000. Later on the lowest price was around $450. Last week it was $280. Today I saw a ticket there for $180. The face value of that seat was probablyless than $30, but the point is that ticket prices are dropping. The most telling thing is that while the lowest price for Opening Day tickets are around $200, you can buy a ticket for the next game for under $20. Twenty bucks. Same opponent, same seat, two days later saves you $180.

But I digress to the point of this blog posting. I am fully aware that two nights later is not the same as Opening Night. But I think back to that Mets salesperson trying to persuade me to buy a plan, and even my friend who suggested we but teh five game pack and sell teh other four games.

I am worried that the Mets have misread the market, and have duped thousands of season and plan holders into the same midset - that these tickets will be in high demand all season long. I think a lot of people "invested" in ticket plans this year, with teh intention to go to the games they wanted to go, and break even or even make money by selling the rest on stubhub. I know for a fact that the stubhub angle was used as a sales pitch at least once by the Mets (on me). But I think the reality is that the market is not going to be what the Mets thought (and sold).

Ticket prices went up this year, and they went up last year about 20% over the 2007 season. So the tickets being sold for Citi are much more expensive than the ones at Shea just two years ago. I surmise that the reason the Mets felt they could raise the prices so much is they saw their tickets being sold at prices much higher than face value on ebay for the past few years and thought that their ticket prices must be too low. And I tend to agree that the Mets should be allowed to sell their tickets for market value, and had every right to raise their prices to the market. But the flaw in the logic was thinking that just because some people were willing to pay much higher than face value, that it meant many many people were willing to pay thos eprices. It's forgetting that the vast majority of ticket holders paid face value for the tickets and were very happy doing so. Even ignoring the current economic climate, I still think the Mets misread the market. Add in that recession on all of our minds, and then add in the double surcharge that stubhub collects (15% from the seller, and another convenience fee to the buyer) and suddenly the marketplace is flooded with overpriced commodities.

Matt Cerrone had a posting on the topic of ticket brokers on Metsblog today, and there were many people posting in the comments section that they had regular season tickets available for sale, and that they "only" wanted face value for them. They only wanted to sell them for what they paid and weren't looking to make a profit. But what if they overpaid for them in the first place? I suspect that there are many fans out there who suddenly find themselves in the position of being amateur ticket brokers and are going to be stuck selling their tickets for less than they paid. They are going to take a loss they weren't prepared to take, and the Mets helped talk them into it.

I don'[t have a problem with ticket brokers, per se. Professional ticket brokers would sell those Opening Day tickets for a large amounts, sell teh rest for face value or below, and still come out ahead. But the average fan who got involved in this are going to go to the hot games like Opening Day and the Yankees series, and not be able to sell the rest.

As for me, I picked up two tickets for $36 each to the Sunday April 19th afternoon game against the Brewers. They are even giving a way a magnetic calendar, previously an Opening Day tradition. So that will be my Opening Day. I don't even have to use up one of my vacation days to attend it.


DyHrdMET said...

while the current economy is a factor, I just think the Mets have done a horrible job with tickets and packages and relocation and prices for the new stadium. i think they thought they were the Yankees, and they're not.

Dogg said...

I feel ya on this subject, but if I had money to fly up to NY and the ticket, I would be there! I'm just a huge fan and I hate being down here and missing out on Opening Day at Citi Field.

Again, I hear what you're saying, I'm just psycho Mets fan who is only letting money get in the way!