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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Yankees, Unobstructed

The Ticket Dilemma

Eleven dollars. That is how much a couple of my friends paid for Yankee tickets. The seats were in the upper deck, but they had an excellent view of the field and enjoyed watching game six of what is now a nine-game winning streak.

While the Yankees have priced their tickets exorbitantly - the most inexpensive non-bleacher yet totally-nosebleed seats are $23 - third-party resale sites are making the new Stadium cheaper than the old one....on certain days.

If you are willing to go to a game mid-week, tickets can routinely be found for less than half of their original prices. A search for tickets on Fansnap.com for the Yankees' Wednesday, June 3, matchup against the Rangers go as low as $9.

However, their is a flip-side to the resale market, and that is the cost of tickets for premium games - weekend matches and games against rivals. Right now, since those third-party sites operate as open-markets, games with higher demands are naturally more expensive. To purchase those $11 seats that my friends got a few days ago, for the game against the Mets on Saturday, June 13, would cost you at least $87.

Outrageous? Our favorite Assemblyman Richard Brodsky thinks so. Brodsky recently introduced legislation that would re-institute a cap on the resale value of tickets for events. The cap, which was in place in New York until 2007, would limit resale tickets to between 20 percent and 45 percent of their original value, depending on the size of the venue.

Brodsky's bill has been met with chagrin by online ticket retailers. While representatives of various online ticket brokers argue that their sites merely represent the value of tickets on a free market - they point to tickets like the $11 set my friends purchased, they misunderstand the impetus for Brodsky's legislation. Weekend and rivalry games are so expensive, that users of resell sites like StubHub can afford to buy up large swaths of tickets in expectation of windfall profits.

If you go to Yankees.com and search for tickets for one of those cheap weeknight games, what you'll find is that there are very few tickets available from the first-party source. Why is there such a disparity between what's available from the Yankees and what's available for resale? Because people who use StubHub as a source of income are willing to swallow moderate weeknight losses for huge weekend gains.

Brodsky's legislation presents the casual fan with a quandary. On the one hand, the current system allows for a reliable and relatively consistent availability of inexpensive seats on certain days, while making it extraordinarily expensive to obtain tickets for more attractive games. On the other hand, with capped ticket values, the price of better games would drop considerably, but inevitably, less tickets for weeknights would be available third-party (if there's less value in weekend games, then swallowing losses on weekday games becomes less feasible).

As a 23 year old, my initial reaction to Brodsky's bill was revulsion. For $11, I can spare my weeknights for Yankee games. But I suspect that the 18-24 year old bracket is not the segment of the population that Brodsky is most concerned with. While capped ticket values might make the Wednesday night game more expensive for me, they may very well make it easier for a 25-50 year old to bring his family to a weekend ballgame.

Make sure to check back every Wednesday for Pinstripe Politics, your source for that gray area where the Yankees and society converge. Also, check in with the BNN on Fridays for The Yankees, Unobstructed, our weekly Yankee opinion column.


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