Jaon at IIATMS runs through the factors that contributed to the premium tickets to games at the new Yankees Stadium going unsold:
The economy tanked
Personal wealth linked to the capital markets tanked
Government bailout of Wall Street behemoths
Many, many Wall Street financial institutions merged/disappeared
Many “feeder” industries reliant on Wall Street (like the lawyers) to pay their hourly rates suffered
Tactical error: The Yanks failed to realize that there were thresholds that firms could spend entertaining clients and the tickets (and dinner and car services) would put the firms over the threshold, making the expense non-reimbursable.
A few weeks back, we went to a friends’ house for an afternoon. While watching the Masters with my friend (a Wall Streeter), we were discussing this and he made an interesting point. He said to me: “Jason, even if I had those great seats that cost $2500 a ticket, I can’t take a client there. It’s not worth the risk.” I asked him about what risk he was talking about and his answer surprised me as I hadn’t thought of that: “If someone recognizes me sitting behind the dugout and it comes out that I used my Firm’s resources for those seats, and we’ve taken TARP money from the government, I don’t want that sort of publicity or getting calls from The Post.” He’s not a famous guy at all, but there’s a fear that someone might see him and he’ll get “outted” for using Firm money to attend a game. He also told me that he’s not alone with this fear.
The Yankees cannot find the corporate dollars to purchase these seats because they currently are being used to save companies from failure and bankruptcy. Spending exorbitant sums on tickets while implementing mass layoffs and taking government dollars tends to send the wrong message.
It is interesting to note that these are not issues that the Yankees are facing to the exclusion of other clubs. Attendance is down 7% across the board. In fact, it seems that the sellout streak at Fenway is in jeopardy:
The Red Sox are losing corporate sponsors and selling fewer premium seats after ratings for regular season games on New England Sports Network dropped 30 percent last year. While the ads are not necessarily aimed at selling tickets, Red Sox officials say they are aware of how a weakening economy can discourage even the most passionate sports fans.
“There is definitely a concern and attention given internally to the effect the economy has on the Red Sox and all sports in general,” said Sam Kennedy, chief sales and marketing officer for the Red Sox. Still, “We have been fortunate to have been able to sell tickets at a considerable pace.”
But some local marketing professors say the Sox have a reason to try to fill more seats. After all, the team, which holds the major league record for consecutive sellouts (476 since May 15, 2003), have not sold out all home games for this season. That suggests the streak could be in jeopardy should the team experience a major slump or nasty weather.
However, the problems in New York are exacerbated both by the sheer number of empty seats and the blowback from creating a new stadium that caters to the elite. When the elite do not show up for the games, the finger pointing begins, as the common fan points and laughs at the Yankees being paid back for their perceived greed. One obvious solution, as Steve alluded to earlier, is cutting ticket prices, as Pete Abe suggests may happen:
There are increasing whispers in Yankeeland that the team realizes they overpriced the good seats and a correction is coming. The issue may be how they compensate those dupes loyal fans who dropped $2,625 a seat already.
As mentioned earlier by Steve and by others in the comments to his post, implementing a price cutback will likely be complicated and is almost certain to upset current ticketholders. Does anyone have any ideas?
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