Spend Management Heads to the Ballpark

For baseball fans, the recession has been a mixed blessing. True, many of us have less money in our pockets from a discretionary ticket spending perspective. But smart -- and cheap -- fans have often been able to get tickets for less this year after some creative negotiating. In the past two weeks, I've bought six tickets from Craigslist, offering significantly less than the asking price (often just a few bucks over face value for Cubs tickets, which was unheard of last year). In two cases so far, the ticket owners have taken the bait, parting with their precious seats for amounts significantly lower than what they had planned to sell them for. And in another, the asking price was already extremely reasonable. Clearly, the recession is catching up with actual ticket sales prices, at least in the secondary market. But some ball clubs like the Yankees are still denying economic reality and paying the price with empty seats. According to the above-linked New York Times article, some teams are facing a "public relations nightmare and possibly millions of dollars in lost revenue after failing to sell about 5,000 tickets -- including some of the priciest seats -- to each of their first few games after last week's openers... The empty seats are a fresh sign that the teams might have miscalculated how much fans and corporations are willing to spend, particularly during a deep recession."

But it's not just the expensive seats -- some of which cost in excess of $1000 per ticket -- that are going unfilled (or selling for below asking value, in some cases). The same article supports my own experience in Chicago when it notes that "Many fans with tickets are trying to recoup what they can by selling some of them online well below face value. More than 10,000 tickets (about 20 percent of the ballpark) for the Yankees' game against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday were available, a handful for as little as $5, according to FanSnap.com, which scans the Web sites of five dozen ticket resellers." Perhaps this is not a good sign for ballclub revenue this year, but it most certainly is a positive event for fans who have felt alienated in recent years as ticket prices shot through the roof. Finally, it's once again possible to take a Spend Management approach to heading to the game (that is, if you also pack your own peanuts and limit the number of $7 watered-down beers you're willing to consume).

Jason Busch

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