Last week I identified some of the problems with the “Fan Cost Index” developed by Team Marketing Report. One of the biggest issues, TMR’s use of average ticket prices to calculate how much a typical family of four could expect to pay to see a game, has to be addressed on a team-by-team basis. This is the first of six articles that will do so. I’m starting with the AL East.
My hypothetical customers decide a few weeks in advance which game they plan to attend, then shop for tickets on MLB.com. To keep the methodology constant, I’m ignoring any special knowledge I may have about a particular stadium’s seats, seating and ticketing policies, and relying entirely on what I can find on MLB.com.
For each game, I looked for four types of tickets. The most important, for these purposes, is a block of four “casual fan” seats–the ones that Team Marketing Report’s hypothetical family would probably sit in. In checking out the options, I used my own seating preferences; in particular, I’d rather have a better angle on the action from the upper deck than a seat closer to the diamond but far down the lines. I went through the ticketing process up to the point where I was asked for my credit card, taking note of the service charges and processing fees that magically appeared along the way. (Since Team Marketing Report doesn’t count these, neither did I.)
Then I repeated the process three more times. Twice I shopped for the “best available seats,” as determined by the MLB.com ticket computer, once for a family of four and once for a single fan. The seats available for the family of four serve as a rough proxy for the club’s season-ticket and advance sales, while the best single-seat option shows where a fan who doesn’t care about the cost can sit without paying scalpers’ prices. Finally, I searched for the best available seat in the cheapest section, the least a fan going through MLB.com could pay to get into the ballpark.
Next I scoured club Web sites for promotions that could reduce the cost of my hypothetical fan’s attendance. For these purposes I excluded deals available only to members of particular groups (e.g., students, senior citizens, active duty military), and those available only as part of multi-game packages, but counted those with minimal eligibility requirements that the general public can easily meet (e.g., buying tickets with MasterCard, discount with coupon from local newspaper). Then I checked the club’s promotional schedule for weird events and giveaways. Finally, I put it all together, as set forth below:
Average ticket price: $22.56 (9th in majors). 2003 attendance: 62.9% of capacity (12th in majors)
Tickets available on April 20 for Wednesday, May 5 night game against the Chicago White Sox:
Four “casual fan” seats: Section 334, Row KK, Seats 1-4 (Upper Boxes directly behind home plate): $20 each face value
Best four seats: Section 252, Row HH, Seats 1-4 (Club Boxes roughly opposite third base): $55 each
Best single seat: Section 44, Row VV, Seat 5 (Field Box behind home plate): $55
Cheapest single seat: Section 382, Row E, Seat 16 (Left Field Upper Reserve in fair territory): $9
Tickets ordered through MLB.com include a service charge of $3-$5 per seat plus a $3 delivery fee.
Mondays and Wednesdays: MasterCard promotion: four Upper Reserve seats, four hats and a program for $44
Tuesdays: All Upper Reserve seats cost $8 ($9-$15 the rest of the week)
Overview: The most “normal” team in a division of extremes. Families will pay less than Team Marketing Report thinks they will–less than half as much, if they come during the week and take advantage of the club’s regular promotions.
Boston Red Sox
Average ticket price: $40.77 (1st in majors). 2003 attendance: 100.2% of capacity (1st in majors)
Tickets available on April 20 for Wednesday, May 12 night game against the Cleveland Indians:
Four “casual fan” seats: Standing room general admission: $20/person
Best four seats: Standing room general admission: $20/person
Best single seat: Section G12, Row 15, Seat 23 (Infield Grandstand, just beyond first base): $44
Cheapest single seat: Standing room general admission: $20
Tickets ordered through MLB.com include a $3.50/seat service charge and $5/order processing fee.
“Red Sox Replay” allows season-ticket holders to resell their seats (at face value plus a transaction fee) through the club Web site. You can’t even browse the listings without paying a $49.95 membership fee. The cheapest block of four seats available through stubhub.com for this game was $53/seat for four seats (face value $27 each) in Section 7, Row 2 of the grandstand, in the right field corner.
Overview: Despite charging 40% more than anyone else for their tickets, the Red Sox will sell out the 2004 season. They don’t need marketing or promotions.
New York Yankees
Average ticket price: $24.86 (4th in majors). 2003 attendance: 77.7% of capacity (6th in majors)
Tickets available on April 20 for Tuesday, May 11 night game against the Anaheim Angels:
Four “casual fan” seats: Tier 8, Row M, Seats 1-4 (Tier Reserved, behind home plate): $14 each [discounted from usual $20 day of game, see below]
Best four seats: Section M21, Row C, Seats 15-18 (Main Reserved, down right field line): $35/person
Best single seat: Section M9, Row F, Seat 9 (Main Reserved, behind home plate): $45
Cheapest single seat: BLCH37, Row P, Seat 5 (Bleachers in right field): $8
Tickets ordered through MLB.com include a $3.50-$5.15/seat service charge.
All seats $2-$10 cheaper when purchased before the day of the game
10 mid-week dates: all Tier Box, Tier Reserved and Bleacher seats $5 (otherwise $35, $20 or $10 day of game)
15 Coca-Cola Value Pack Nights: four Tier Reserved seats, four hot dogs, four Coca-Cola products and a yearbook for $80 (the day-of-game price for the seats)
24 mid-week night games: Tier Reserved seats $14 (usually $20 day of game)
DON’T MISS: Yankees Ice Tray Night, sponsored by Dunkin Donuts, June 4.
Overview: No bargains in The Bronx, where the Yankees have already sold almost 3 million tickets for the 2004 season, but even George Steinbrenner makes mid-week games more affordable. Buy before the day of the game if you can.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Average ticket price: $16.82 (22nd in majors). 2003 attendance: 28.9% of capacity (30th in majors)
Tickets available on April 20 for Wednesday, May 12 night game against Texas Rangers (a “Value Game”):
Four “casual fan” seats: Section 300, Row F, Seats 5-8 (Upper Reserve, directly behind home plate): $7/seat
Best four seats: Section 103, Row J, Seats 5-8 (Kane’s Club seats directly behind home plate, includes all-you-can-eat buffet): $175/seat
Best four “normal” seats: Section 106, Row Q, Seats 1-4 (Lower Club Box seats behind home plate): $40/seat
Best single seat: The Kane’s Club seat for $175 or Section 101, Row N, Seat 5 (Lower Club Box directly behind home plate): $40
Cheapest single seat: Section 313, Row B, Seat 14 (Upper Reserve, between third and home): $3 (would be $6 for a “Regular Game”)
Tickets ordered through MLB.com include a $1.50-$4.75/seat service charge.
19 Prime Games (all home games against Yankees, Red Sox, Giants): tickets scaled from $9 to $90; infield upper reserve $15
48 Regular Games: tickets scaled from $6 to $80; infield upper reserve $9
12 Value Games (various mid-week games): tickets scaled from $3 to $70; infield upper reserve $7
Tuesdays: buy one outfield ticket, get one free with newspaper coupon
Thursdays: $5 off outfield tickets with newspaper coupon
Fridays: buy two outfield tickets, get two free with newspaper coupon
I’M SORRY I MISSED: Don Zimmer Fan Mask giveaway [warning: pop-up] [warning #2: it’s an image of Don Zimmer], April 7.
Overview: When the best seats in your ballpark are available to the general public in blocks of four, you’ve got serious attendance issues. Casual fans will spend more on food and drink than they do to get in.
Toronto Blue Jays
Average ticket price: $17.87 (U.S.) (16th in majors). 2003 attendance: 44.0% of capacity (26th in majors)
Tickets available on April 20 for Wednesday, May 5 night game against Kansas City Royals (all prices in Canadian dollars):
Four “casual fan” seats: Section S524B, Row 4, Seats 103-106 (Skydeck level, directly behind home plate): $9 CDN/seat
Best four seats: Section S121U, Box 31, Seats 11-14 (field level infield, behind home plate): $54 CDN/seat
Best single seat: Section S121U, Box 23, Seat 13 (field level infield, behind home plate): $54 CDN
Cheapest single seat: Section S524B, Row 4, Seat 5 (Skydeck level, directly behind home plate): $9 CDN
Tickets ordered through MLB.com include $3-$4.50/seat service charge, $4/order delivery fee.
17 Prime Games (Opening Day and summer weekends): tickets scaled from $9 to $62; Field Level Baseline seats $26
60 Regular Games: tickets scaled from $9 to $56; Field Level Baseline seats $23
4 Value Games (Tuesdays in April and May): tickets scaled from $2 to $51; Field Level Baseline seats $15
5 and 7 game Flex Packs: no blackouts, no seat restrictions, choose your own games. Both offer a free ticket to the June 27 game against the Expos and an opportunity to buy playoff tickets before the general public. The seven-game pack also includes a second free ticket to a game of your choice, a Carlos Delgado bobblehead, and two upgrades to field level infield seats.
DON’T MISS: Shower curtain giveaway, May 9.
Overview: The Blue Jays are a bargain even without adjusting for the exchange rate.