Mariner ticket prices steady, more at the same time
I realized I hadn’t touched on this yet. The 2009 season seat prices didn’t go up at all, and they’re not charging extra for premium games, which means for a full season a seat is $21 less for the year.
Ah! But for the rest of you, this year there are 17 (seventeen!) premium games, at $5 per seat per game. That’s up from seven last year at $3 extra each. And ten “value” games which are $5 off per stub (which makes center field bleacher seats $3 each day of game? Really?), which makes it seem kind of like they’re keeping the net premium games steady, but when you think about it, not really.
I’m torn about demand-based pricing like this. For one, the M’s aren’t really promising a good game. No one who attended a game last year they paid $3 more for got anything back when the team stunk up the place. That’s the pretext they’re choosing, though: that you’re getting a higher-quality product. If you paid for a nice new Lexus though and got half of a Fiero, you’d rightfully be pretty ticked off.
And yet I understand that the team wants to make more money, and the control a limited supply of tickets for each game, and the demand is sometimes far greater than other games. Why should the scalpers make money instead of the team?
But the M’s can’t hold a Dutch auction before the season for each game, and they can’t cut prices below what they sold them for (well, not openly, but that’s a different story). They could increase day-of-game prices up and up based on demand if the team’s in contention, but that’d be confusing and potentially anger a lot of fans.
So this is what we get: the premium games are a tax on New York and Boston fans, more or less. They’re not going to buy season tickets or 16-game plans, but they’ll pack the house for their teams and premium prices seem like bargains compared to how they’ll get shaken down if they attend their team’s home game. They’re a dependable supply of affluent, price-insensitive customers, and the M’s are soaking them a little more every season. There are worse ways to make a buck.