A look at the Toronto Blue Jays as they prepare for the 2013 baseball season.
The three most eye-popping stats in the story: 1) "Ticket and suite revenues through last season had fallen by a staggering $166 million since the end of 2009." 2) "The Yankees’ per-game decline of 3,793 over the same number of games last season, through Tuesday, is the third-sharpest in baseball, according to Baseball Reference, trailing just Kansas City and the Mets." 3) "And this month, a game in the Bronx against the Toronto Blue Jays drew an announced crowd of 25,556 -- the smallest for a Yankees home game in 13 years."
This would be surprising to some since the Yankees are off to a 27-17 start and are in first place in the AL East. The team is also more fun to watch than it's been in years since a lot of old guys with bloated contracts are gone and youth has been infused, with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez becoming the faces of the franchise.
But this is not about players. This is about money and the way the Yankees treat their fans.
Team President, Randy Levine, showed how out of touch he is by saying, "Right now, there’s no LeBron in baseball, there’s no Tom Brady. Derek Jeter was, maybe David Ortiz. But I think these young guys on our team and some of the other ones have the breakout ability, and I think that’s what’s exciting and what our fans are looking at.”
Wrong! No, Randy. What your fans are looking at are the ticket prices for good seats and what it will cost in total to take in a regular season baseball game. Yes, you can spend $20 and sit 800 feet away from the field if you wish. But if you're a mom or dad with two kids and would like to give them that memorable experience of sitting up close and near the field and players, you have to take out a second mortgage. Just look.
Those figures are just for ticket prices. It doesn't include parking, which the Yankees somehow don't control or operate, so they can't take the hit for that outrageous fee, but it's still a factor for the person going to the game.
It's not just that the Yankees have priced out the average fan. They have no remorse in doing so and have no problem telling everyone that the rich fan is much more important than the middle class fan. The team built a concrete moat in the new, charmless Yankee Stadium so fans who couldn't afford the good seats couldn't go near them.
Last year, Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost, went on the team's local radio station, WFAN, and basically admitted the Yankees want to keep the riff raff away from the wealthy people who spend the big bucks.
"The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money,” Trost said. “It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and (another) fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount.
“And quite frankly, the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”
That disgusting comment is what turns people away. It has nothing to do with bells-and-whistles and deals that sound enticing, but in reality aren't that good.
From the Times piece:
"They removed 2,100 obstructed-view seats in center field over the winter, and created plazas -- the kind of gathering spots in the outfield that have become popular at other ballparks. They have also made more than 200,000 tickets available for $15 or less, including the Pinstripe Pass, which comes with a drink (soda, water or beer) and park entry, but without a seat. They hired a new social media director to help better connect with young fans."
These changes do nothing to address the problem that real, hardcore fans can't sit in the lower deck without spending hundreds of dollars. The real, hardcore fan doesn't give a flying whatever about plazas. But, hey, if you want to stand for nearly four hours and watch the game from a mile away, the Yankees will let you do so for the low price of $15.
How can the fans not be flocking to the Bronx with an offer like that?