SBD/Issue 56/Franchises

More MLB Teams Cutting Ticket Prices Amid Economic Downturn

Dodgers Among Many MLB Teams
Not Raising Ticket Prices Next Season
At least 16 of the 30 teams in MLB are "freezing or decreasing prices for season ticketholders" for the '09 season, according to Antonen & Lacques of USA TODAY. Team Marketing Report noted only three teams last year, the Giants, Pirates and Rays, failed to raise prices, as the average ticket price for the '08 season climbed 10.1% from the previous year. Team Marketing Report Exec Editor Jon Greenberg: "Fans want to save. Exorbitant spending is out. Teams want good press. They want to please their customers." The Brewers, on the strength of their first playoff appearance since '82, are raising ticket prices for next season, but they also "reduced prices in one outfield section" from $18 to $10. Brewers Exec VP/Business Operations Rick Schlesinger: "We have one eye on the sports page and one eye on the financial pages" (USA TODAY, 12/4). USA TODAY's Mel Antonen notes the Tigers are "raising ticket prices in 2009 despite the recession, which has hit particularly hard" in Detroit. The team is increasing prices an "average of $2.05 a game for 40% of season-ticket seats and added $2 to $4 a ticket for premium dates." The economic downturn "comes at an inopportune time for the Tigers, who owe raises to key players" like RF Magglio Ordonez and 1B Miguel Cabrera (USA TODAY, 12/4).

RIDE THE GIANT ROLLER COASTER: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret reports the MLB Giants have signed a deal with Texas-based QCue, a software company, that "enables them to change single-game ticket prices at any time." Giants Managing VP/Ticket Services & Client Relations Russ Stanley said that the club hired QCue to "help find the right price for selling 2,000 seats in AT&T Park's outfield bleachers and upper deck, the last ones to sell for Giants games." Muret notes QCue's formula "plugs in factors such as team performance, opponent, starting pitchers, weather conditions, day of the week and gate giveaways." Stanley said that the Giants will "use those results to raise or lower ticket prices as late as the morning of a game for tickets purchased online, at ticket kiosks, by phone and at the box office" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/1 issue). CNBC’s Darren Rovell said of the Giants' "airplane" ticketing strategy, "They can change their prices eight times a day on the original ticket. … I think because of the bad economy, and the need to get people in the seats, if they only have 20,000 seats sold, they’re going to change it on you." Rovell added he expects "10 teams to do this in the next year” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 12/4).

Turnstile Tracker: In L.A., T.J. Simers notes the Dodgers, whose average ticket costs $29.66, "will not raise season ticket prices" next season. Team Marketing Report indicated that last season it cost a family of four $229.14 to attend a Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium, and in the five years the McCourt family has owned the team, the cost for a family of four "has increased almost 57%." But Simers notes Dodgers fans "haven't objected," with "more than 3 million every year buying tickets, the quality of the team or the cost of the experience seemingly given little consideration." Meanwhile, Simers reports the Angels are "raising ticket prices," as the average ticket cost will increase from $20.78 last season to a "little less than" $22 in '09 (L.A. TIMES, 12/4).

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