Have you ever been on a plane and been able to shut up the loudmouth next to you by telling him how much less you paid for your seat than he paid for his?
Good stuff, right? Well, that simple pleasure — or pain, if you're on the other end — is beginning to infiltrate the stands at America's ballparks. Starting in 2009, the Giants will introduce "airline pricing" to about 2,000 of their seats in the upper deck at AT&T Park. If it proves successful, CNBC's Darren Rovell believes the system will spread to other teams across MLB.
Bolstered by a new computer system that will be able to handle minute-by-minute variable pricing, the seats that San Francisco sells on game day will be treated just like seats on an airplane. In other words, as perishable goods subject to the whims of supply and demand.
Though the price changes will probably only fluctuate between 25 cents and $2, Giants team president Larry Baer thinks "dynamic pricing" could be the wave of the future, allowing teams to tap into some of the inflated profits that scalpers currently enjoy. (Most MLB teams have already commandeered a share of that market, raising prices when division rivals and "premier" teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs come to town.)
Of course, the possible increases would seem to be nothing but bad news for you, the consumer, at first. But if you consider that teams would have a greater incentive to build a winning lineup and that you'd only be paying it if there was a product worth watching on the field, maybe it's not such a bad thing after all.
Regardless, it's worth noting that this would never work for all the seats in a ballpark, at least not when teams are addicted to all that guaranteed season ticket money that they get up front. (Ditto for the top teams that sell millions of advance tickets before a pitch is ever thrown in spring training.)