FanDuel - WFBC

August 04, 2011

Plenty of Good Seats Still Available: The collapse of the sports ticket bubble: A few months ago, it seemed like M.L.B. was in the throes of a ticket apocalypse. Through the first 2 weeks of the season, 6 teams had set all-time single-game lows at their current homes. The surprising Cleveland Indians led the A.L. Central in the standings, but remained in the cellar at the turnstiles. The New York Yankees, whose ultrapricey new stadium has been beset by empty seats since it opened in 2009, hosted record-low crowds for 4 games in a row. It was as if fans, having quietly absorbed more than a decade of price hikes and the advent of $9 beers, had spontaneously decided to go on strike. Last fall, the New York Giants demanded that fans pony up as much as $20,000 for "P.S.Ls" before being allowed to buy season tickets at the New Meadowlands Stadium. That may have been a workable price point when ground was 1st broken for the stadium 3 years prior, but fans balked at the hefty fees in 2010. What was once a lengthy ticket wait list quickly evaporated, leaving the team with thousands of empty seats on its new building's opening day.

posted by tommytrump to culture at 12:57 PM - 12 comments

Allow me to pull out my tiny violin.

The teams took full advantage of running the real fans out of the parks in the 1990s by ramping up the luxury suites and special boxes and jacking up ticket prices. Let them now reverse the process so I don't spend $200 taking my wife and children to a game.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:05 PM on August 04

Don't forget getting us to pay for their stadiums and throwing in sweet deals that also gave them additional income (low taxes, parking concessions, etc). If fans were smarter, they'd spend their dollars elsewhere (e.g. minor league games).

posted by kokaku at 01:29 PM on August 04

If fans were smarter, they'd spend their dollars elsewhere (e.g. minor league games).

*Looks at shirt* Hey, woulda look it that! I'm wearing my Durham Bulls t-shirt today. Hooray for AAA baseball!

posted by NoMich at 02:01 PM on August 04

I am happy about this, let the NBA owners and players take note, the fans have a limit too, and while billionaire owners and millionaire players argue over money, I hope they realize that in this economy nobody really needs them. They can price themselves right out of the market..

How low can ticket prices go, as low as the fans demand before they start flocking back.

posted by Atheist at 02:31 PM on August 04

Plus, why should I pay ridiculous prices, just for the pleasure of a long night at the ballpark, when I can watch every Yankee and Met (here in NYC area) game, and more on ESPN, WGN and MLB Network, from the comfort of my home? Refrigerator and bathroom's a few steps away; never worry about heat/cold and rain/snow, and my monthly cable bill is probably less than I would pay for a game in person.

posted by jjzucal at 02:33 PM on August 04

I set up a corner shrine to the deity of this apocalypse quite awhile ago. Bring it on, I've been patiently awaiting it.

I can calmly state that I have no threshold tolerance limit as an observer in regard to how much economic pain and suffering major league sports franchises might endure. I can't see myself reaching a point at which I say: "OK, the poor bastards have suffered enough."

posted by beaverboard at 03:46 PM on August 04

Though I'd like to see cheaper seats at Giants games, I'm happy the SF Giants built AT&T park the "right way"...without the usual ballot box "we need you to fund this" or "fund this and you'll see lots of local business" shenanigans.

Who was the idiot who started that trend anyway?

posted by slackerman at 05:29 PM on August 04

Plus, why should I pay ridiculous prices, just for the pleasure of a long night at the ballpark, when I can watch every Yankee and Met (here in NYC area) game, and more on ESPN, WGN and MLB Network, from the comfort of my home?

Because, despite HD and surround sound, watching baseball at the ball park is still better than watching at home. It really is. It's one of the few sports that's still better in person.

posted by grum@work at 07:02 PM on August 04

It's one of the few sports that's still better in person.

I would suggest that the owners are hoping there are still plenty of sports better in person. I've always felt that the biggest positive delta between watching at home and watching there is hockey.

posted by sbacharach at 08:33 PM on August 04

Really, any sport (at least of the so-called major sports in the US) is better watched in person. You are not a slave to the camera the director selects, in most cases you can see plays developing before they happen, and there is usually a lot more to watch than what is happening at the ball or puck. Baseball is my favorite "you really need to watch a lot more than what you see on TV" sport. This is probably a hangover from my umpiring days, because I got used to recognizing the situation with the count, base runners, fielders' positioning, what the pitcher might throw, and all of the very small things that go into a single play on the field. Even in a "bad" seat, there is a sense of community with the other fans when your team is doing well (or badly).

All that having been said, it is still difficult for someone in my situation to attend many major league games, regardless of sport. While the management of the Red Sox brags about having "several hundred" tickets available on a walk-up basis for each game, I'm not too likely to drive the hour from my home and pay for parking, only to find out that all I can get is an obstructed view or a standing room ticket. Those tickets that are available on the resale sites are good seats, but are way overpriced, and what is available on line from the team site is not exactly prime location.

The Celtics usually have some decent seats available, particularly for the less desirable opponents. With the state of the labor agreement, I don't think we'll get to many C's games. I've not been to a Bruins game for a couple of years, mostly because I've had no one to go with. Now that my son is home from college, perhaps we'll take a shot at it. It will be interesting to see if there are any good seats available for general sale this year.

We were able to score a couple of Patriots seats this season, but it was not for a game we wanted, and the seats are not exactly the greatest. Still, it's a game, and we'll enjoy it.

We looked at the Penn State web site and found out that there were still football season tickets available for this season. Amazingly enough, there are seats between the 30 yard lines available, the base ticket price is not high, and even though a donation to the support fund for the athletic programs is required, it is fairly modest. Now if State College, PA, were not a 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hour drive, it would be an attractive proposition. Maybe when I hit Power Ball, take flying lessons, and buy my private jet aircraft, I'll go for it.

posted by Howard_T at 09:08 PM on August 04

I would argue that while most sports are best watched in person from a standpoint of getting a complete sense of what is happening perspective, that the numerous distractions ruin the actual experience.

1) The sense of community can be a great thing, and it can be a completely horrendous thing. Fans have been beaten nearly to death for wearing the visiting colors, entire sections of some stadiums harass women and visitors relentlessly, drunken fights are a fairly common occurrence. I could go on for quite a while on this point.

2) Yes, i agree that seeing a play develop is great, and is something that you do not get to see watching on TV. However, that is balanced out with having a close up view of the main action regardless of where your seats are. Some of those obscured view seats can be pretty bad. Hard to see the whole play develop if you can't see the right fielder. End zone seats are great when the play is at your end, not so much when the play is 130 yards from you (field distance + distance from end zone to your seat).

I've never had someone spill his beer down the back of my shirt at home, nor does it take me an hour to get home after the game.

I do try to catch a couple of baseball games each year, always with free or heavily discounted tickets. Would never pay what the NFL/NBA wants in this town, so would only go with free tickets. I'm lucky in that due to my job, I do score free tickets enough to satisfy my desires. Though it is amazing how much those free tickets end up costing me in parking/food/beer charges

Catch a lot of high school/college and minor league action.

posted by dviking at 11:48 PM on August 04

I've always felt that the biggest positive delta between watching at home and watching there is hockey.

gotta agree there. Being a southerner I never liked hockey until I saw a minor league club in person. It is a really fun game to watch in person, but something I'd never watch on TV unless it was playoffs/championship

posted by bdaddy at 10:12 AM on August 05

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