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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Boo bleeding hoo: Randy Levine and the Yankees whine about StubHub

Home attendance is down 3.6 percent for the New York Yankees this season, and team president Randy Levine is pointing a figure at...StubHub. Really? Not uninspiring play this year, or a bad economy, or even the prevalence of HDTV, but a ticket service?

Here's the scoop. When asked about declining attendance, Levine tells the New York Post that "we believe there are serious issues with the StubHub relationship," saying that "we are actively reviewing more fan-friendly alternatives for next year.”

Josh Kosman of the Post parrots Levine's opinion, writing:
The Yanks and other teams claim tickets are priced too low on StubHub.

The StubHub effect this year — combined with a lousy economy and a poorer on-field performance — has produced an average crowd of 40,949 through 25 games, compared with 42,491 last year.
So having super-low-priced Yankee tickets available is contributing to lower attendance, not higher attendance? What bizarro world do they live in? Not to mention the fact that the tickets on StubHub contribute to Yankees attendance even if they are never re-sold or used; after all, they are already counted towards attendance because they have been purchased by season ticket holders.

It sounds like Levine is getting business advice from the clowns who run the Yankees parking garages. They were the knuckleheads who raised the rates in 2011 to $35, instead of lowering them, when few people parked there, with even fewer people parking there now.


And Levine's insinuation that StubHub is somehow not "fan-friendly" is ludicrous. Right now, there are tickets as low as $1.95 on StubHub for grandstand seats for the Yankees-Rays series, seats that retail for around $25 or so. What could be more fan-friendly than that? 

The StubHub effect is really that in the modern era, you can get great seats at costs much below face value, something you couldn't do even 10 years ago. When Squawker Jon and I went to a Yankees game a few weeks ago, we sat in the upper deck right behind home plate for just $8.00 each, a terrific deal for tickets with a $28 face value. But Randy Levine is mad that instead of buying tickets on Yankees.com for $28, I bought tix from a season-ticket holder for so much cheaper. Give me a break!

Now, you can't always find tickets below face value on StubHub -- we just had to spend a little above face value to get Subway Series tickets for this Friday -- but you can usually find great deals there. That's because there's this weird thing going on called "supply and demand" -- something Levine doesn't understand. He also doesn't understand the whole "what the market will bear" concept. There is a deeper issue with the pricing being this low, in that there is less demand for Yanks tickets. Levine ought to figure out why that is happening instead of bashing StubHub.

Look, I get that the existence of StubHub and other resale sites have contributed to fewer people buying full-season or partial season ticket plans, because now fans can find deals for most games on the resale sites But you know what else contributes to fewer fans buying such plans? When the Yankees stopped guaranteeing access to post-season tickets for those fans who bought the partial plans. Other than being able to say that you have a partial season ticket plan, there is no good incentive to do so anymore.

At least the Mets offer perks for those fans who buy even the partial season ticket plans. What do the Yankees offer? I'm not aware of any. Maybe they should, instead of Levine whining about the evilness of StubHub.

Here's the thing -- I get that baseball is a business, and that high food and drink prices are par for the course at Yankee Stadium. But then don't turn around and whine when fans are able to find good deals for games, and that they make the rational business decision of buying $25 tickets for $2, instead of paying face value for them.

I don't know what's more disturbing -- that Levine peddles this nonsense, or that the Post uncritically reports it -- but StubHub is a great innovation for the average fan, and it's as "fan-friendly" a business that there is out there.  

So what is Levine's solution going to be instead of StubHub? Banning season ticket holders from reselling their tickets, like the Yanks used to do a few years ago? Forcing there to be a higher price on re-sold tickets?

No matter what the Yankees try to do instead of StubHub, it is bound to result in less money for them. Because every ticket that is sold but not used means that the person will not be in the ballpark to spend money. Too bad Levine can't seem to grasp that simple economic concept.


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2 comments:

Paul said...

With nearly every game now televised in HD, the Yankees (and every other team) need to make sure they can sell the experience of going to the ballpark, or they will continue to see their paid attendance numbers decline.

Randy Levine needs to stop whining about StubHub, and he needs to stop trying to figure out how to suck more money out of Yankee fans' wallets. Instead, he needs to start figuring out how to give them more value for their dollar. Otherwise, he'll have to start wondering why they're staying home to watch YES.

iEateggsEveryMorning said...

Thank you, great post. I agree on every point. I had the 15-game Sunday plan for many years and loved it. Then they built the new stadium and switched my plan to a Monday-Tuesday plan without telling me. I couldn't go to most of the games, and could barely sell them for $5 on StubHub. Now they've taken all the premium Sunday games out of the Sunday plan and added 3 mid-week games, so it's not even really a Sunday plan. That, the no-post-season-guarantee thing, higher ticket prices and higher parking fees makes it a non-seller. Basically less for more. I've been contacted 3 times this year by the Yankees begging me to buy the plan. Not a chance.