One of the biggest jokes in pro sports so far this year has been the neverending punchline that is the new Yankee Stadium. The Yankees’ billion-dollar monument to greed, excess, and everything else wrong with the modern American economy has hurt the team on the field and its vast oceans of empty overpriced seats has hurt the team off it. For Yankees fans, it would be an embarrassing position to be in - if they had the capacity for shame. Which they don’t.
And while the hubris of Yankees fans knows few bounds, they might want to sit up and take notice of a piece that appeared in the NEW YORK TIMES this weekend. If fans think this season’s rows of empty seats are no big deal, just wait - this could just be the beginning.
THE NEW YORK TIMES talked to a sampling of current Yankees season-ticket holders, and far from expecting to jump right back in the ticketholding game when the economy improves, sounds like many of them are preparing to jump ship due to the ridiculous per-ticket prices the Yankees are charging…regardless of economy:
“In the past, the tickets were easier to resell,” said [Yankees season ticket holder] Donne, who last year paid $120 each for seats and had no trouble reselling them for twice as much. “The Yankees totally overpriced them. When you go on StubHub, there are seats all throughout the stadium.”
It seems the Yankees didn’t count on the fact that even in a good economy, people are only willing to pay so much for resold tickets. If the tickets are overpriced in the primary market, the secondary prices jump up even more. Then no one wants to buy them. The result right now is empty seats that were at least sold before the season. The result in coming seasons might be empty, unsold seats. That’s a problem for the Yankees, obviously, since they have not only the league’s highest payroll, but also some of the highest off-field expenses in the major leagues (keeping George Steinbrenner alive is expensive, folks).
Is this proof that a team can, in fact, go too far with price hikes and the gouging of fans? Only time will truly tell, but signs aren’t looking good. With any luck, the Yankees misfortune can at least serve as a cautionary tale to other teams that fans’ wallets really DO eventually run dry.