by Harold Friend
One never knows what is going to happen in a baseball game. Pennant-winning teams might struggle against cellar-dwellers, or a play that has never been seen could occur. There are no guarantees, which is a major reason that before the first pitch, all baseball games are potentially created equal, but that's not the position of some baseball executives. We now have variable pricing, which the Rockies introduced in 1998.
Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze
About one-half of the teams have variable pricing, but the Mets have made it extremely complex. New York's other team plays Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Value baseball games. When they introduced the plan in 2003, there were 17 gold games. Now that the Mets are playing in a new ballpark, there are 30 gold games. Platinum games are opening day and the three games against the team from the Bronx. A field box seat for a "platinum" game is $175, while the same seat against the Marlins is $75.
Research reveals that fans decide which games to attend based upon opponent and date. The latter makes sense because the weather is usually better during the summer months, but the former is ridiculous, as the Marlins proved.
Ticket Prices Change Until Game Time
The Giants have recently announced that they are experimenting with variable pricing using computer software. Based upon ticket sales data, weather predictions (which often are as accurate as baseball experts' pennant picks), pitching match-ups, and other valid factors, ticket prices can change right until game time. Fans seem to approve of the policy.
Russ Stanley, the Giants' vice president in charge of ticket services, thought back to the days of Barry Bonds, as he realized the gold mine that was never exploited. "All those years when Barry Bonds was here hitting those home runs, what were we thinking?" Stanley thinks the world is ready for variable ticket pricing.
Any Team On Any Given Day
Only individuals who don't understand baseball could subscribe to the belief that the top teams are always more difficult to beat than the league's doormats, or that the better teams produce the most memorable games. On the last day of the last two seasons, the Mets found out the real price of "value" game against the Marlins.
Washington Beats New York
' The Yankees don't use variable pricing. Almost all tickets are expensive, but fans that purchase tickets in advance or as part of a season ticket plan get discounts. This past week, a team that might rank among the worst teams ever assembled stuck it to the Yankees by beating them in the last two games of a three-game series. As Yankees' manager Joe Girardi knows, it is a fatal mistake to consider any team as less than "premium."
For casual fans or non-fans, a Yankees-Phillies match up might be more attractive than the Yankees hosting Washington, but veteran fans know that often is not the case. The teams proved that recently when the Yankees lost two out of three to the Phillies, which might be expected, but then they did the same in the Washington series.
Decide Ticket Prices When the Game is Over
"Premium" games exist to fill the team's till. A more efficient way of gouging fans would be to force fans to pay by credit card. No charges would be posted until AFTER the game, when the team would decide if the game were a "premium" game. What a great idea.
Beech, Mark. "Take Me Out to the Gold Game." Sports Illustrated. December 9, 2002.