Ticket Pricing at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees have a very odd pricing scheme at their stadium that belies sound economics. They charge a lot of money for their tickets and none of their tickets are worth as much as they sell them for on an individual game level.

If you go to Stubhub between 5,000 and 10,000 tickets are available to any upcoming game and they are almost all at lower prices than the season ticket price. When the Braves come to New York next Tuesday you can buy 2 tickets in Row 12 of Section 104 (great seats) for $141.85 includes all Stubhub charges; the partial season ticket price point in that section is $100 per ticket or $200 total. This was chosen at random, but almost all tickets on Stubhub, for almost all games, are less than retail price.

The amazing thing is that you can buy tickets to the Red Sox series in July, on a weekend, for just a few dollars over retail price. This is probably the most expensive game of the season, but there are currently 10,903 tickets available for the Sunday night game on July 29. Demand may be high, but so is supply. If you owned season tickets, it is not possible to unload Red Sox tickets to make up for the loss on Tuesday night games against the Braves; the same seats as above are selling for $278.25. But, there are 16 seats available in the 12th row of Section 104; I would expect that price to fall as game time approaches.

Following Stubhub on a regular basis, I am positive you could attend all 81 home games, in pretty much any section of the Stadium, for less money than it costs to buy season tickets. You would probably spend 20-50% more for about 10 games, but you would spend 50-80% less for many more games. Thus, the only rational reason to buy season tickets is to get access to post season tickets which are general worth much more on the open market than the retail value.

On this promise, they are able to sell the mid-30,000 range season of ticket plans, which translates into an attendance of about 40,000 people in a stadium that seats about 52,500. Their pricing scheme is not in the best long-term interest of their team, but may provide short-term benefits.

Short-term: they are selling their tickets for more than they are worth. That means that for every ticket that is sold, they get extra money. Most likely that extra money is more than the cost of eating a few thousand tickets per game and the money those people spend at the game.

Long-term: they are selling season tickets to scalpers more than fans, which diminishes their long-term fan loyalty. Also, it makes season tickets less valuable, because the fun of season tickets is sitting next to the same people each game.

If the Yankees get rid of Stubhub, as they are threatening, it would be devastating for their bottom line, unless they dramatically lower their retail price. Scalpers would not be as willing to buy up the tickets if they are not able to get any money, even at a loss, for regular games. Fans have already dictated that they are not going to pay retail. Season ticket holders that remain will be less likely to resell their tickets for those games that they cannot attend, because it would not be worth the added hassle of selling on a less easy resell market. Thus, I would expect a dramatic drop in season tickets compounded with even more tickets being unused.

Randy Levine, if you read this column, I have a few suggestions. And, I am willing to work for nothing except for a few overpriced tickets and World Series ring if the Yankees go all the way.