Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Yankee Stadium - We'd Better Get What We're Paying For

The new Yankee Stadium is set to officially open its doors on April 16, 2009 in time for the Yankees' home opener in what is sure to be an interesting season. As everyone knows, the Yankees failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since the strike-shortened 1994 season due to a variety of reasons ranging from injuries to lack of starting pitching to underperformances from key players. The team and its fans are hoping that the change that the new Yankee Stadium provides will drive the Yankees to victory, something really not felt since their last win in 2000.

Ever since a new stadium was announced, I was not exactly looking forward to it. After all, I don't know any other stadium besides this one (and Shea of course, but that's gone now too, even faster). As time went on, ground was broken on the new stadium and preliminary drawings and sketches were released of the Yankees' new home. Over two years have passed since the groundbreaking ceremony in August of 2006, and I can't believe how the space - as well as my feeling on a new stadium - has transformed.

I learned to deal with the fact that my second home was being torn down and turned into a park/museum. I hoped that when all was said and done and this new structure was opened that it would all be worth it. As of now it would seem that those hopes have come true, because the new stadium looks amazing. I mean it kind of looks like a bank, but other than that, I can't wait for Opening Day 2009.

I can only wonder if it looks like a bank on purpose, based on what the Yankees have the nerve to charge for tickets. Let me break this down. Since the 2005 season, I have had some type of season ticket plan for the Yankees. That first year, I had a 46-game weekday package that consisted of two seats located in the Tier level, box 620E, seats 21 and 22. The seats were great; they aimed directly down the first base line and the Yankees' dugout and were within perfect foul ball range for lefties. In 2006, we kept that package with those seats, then added a full season package, also in the Tier level, box 643C. These two seats were mostly used as a business incentive for my dad's employees, and occasionally we would sell some of the tickets on StubHub (until the Yankees decided that was "illegal" and started revoking season ticket licenses of offenders, but they don't do that anymore).

Then, in 2007, our 46-game package was upgraded. We moved to box 604B, which was situated almost directly behind home plate, and I couldn't have been happier. I loved those seats. That year we also moved our full season package down into the loge level in left field, box 514B. Again, those were mostly given away or sold, although I sat there a few times such as Opening Day and a few Red Sox games. Then 2008 came. Our 604B seats remained and we moved our 514B seats back up to the Tier level, now in box 616F, two sections closer than we had originally been when we first bought a package.

The environment of 604B was incomparable to any of my other ballpark experiences. The cast of characters who sat around us were all either fun to talk to or fun to make fun of. Then the inevitable happened - the end of 2008, the end of Yankee Stadium, the end of an era. None of us knew what our fate would be come April in the new stadium. We didn't even know if we all could afford to come back next year.

Face value on my 604B as well as my 616F tickets last season was $55 each, advance, $65 each, day of game. What that equivocates to is roughly $14,000 for four seats, which isn't exactly pocket change. Everyone knew what was to come when we received our relocation in the new stadium, assuming all to be equal. But then a funny thing happened - they made our seats into outdoor suites.

What was once considered to be the best kept secret of the Stadium by anyone who has ever sat there suddenly became a "Premium" section because upper management believed that they could get more money. That's always what it comes down to, isn't it? The choice became clear: either opt for the Terrace Outdoor Suite section of the stadium, sure to be pricey, or go through the process of being relocated and guarantee that we would be sitting nowhere near behind home plate and the ticket price may just go up anyway.

What we ultimately ended up doing was purchasing four seats, together, in the Terrace level Outdoor Suite section. We were placed in section 320A, which is slightly off-center toward the first base side, in the fifth row. Price? $100 per seat per game. AKA, $32,400 a season, basically double what we were paying last season. At least, we figured, we'd be able to sell the tickets to games we weren't going to and make enough of our money back. Then, surprise, surprise, the Yankees did something that no one was expecting.

Our season ticket contract came in the mail last week. No joke, the package weighed about two pounds. Enclosed were two separate contracts - one was the ticket contract, and one was the seat licensing contract. Wait, what? What seat licensing? The new Yankee Stadium doesn't have seat licensing...

Oh, but it does. What everyone failed to mention until the contracts came out was that the $100 that we're paying per seat per game next season is not the price of the ticket. The seats are $65 a game, the seat license is $35 a game. It doesn't seem like a big deal though, right? I mean we're still only paying $32,400 a year, right? Well, technically yes, but this seems to be a way to prevent resale at high prices. If $35 of the $100 is going toward a seat license, probability says that the ticket itself will have a face value of $65. People see a ticket with a face value of $65, are they going to pay $100 for it? Not guaranteed, no.

On top of that, they did the inevitable in forcing their food choices on us. No longer will fans be allowed to bring in outside food for consumption inside the stadium; all food and beverages must be purchased inside at the concessions, which the Yankees now so conveniently own themselves. The new contract takes away basically every single right that we ever had as season ticket holders. The list of what we're not allowed to do inside the stadium is enormous and detailed. There's a section of about 30 reasons for cancellation of a game that we won't get our money back for. If an entire season is cancelled because of a strike, for example, our ticket money will be carried over to the next season, with no refunds. If there's a war that cancels games, they keep our money. Pleasant.

The outdoor suite seats became a completely separate entity from our original season ticket contract in the old stadium; in other words, any person could have purchased these seats if they chose to. Our original seats are still being relocated; in fact that contract went out in the mail this week. Our 616F seats were relocated to section 324 row 9, which is basically the EXACT same spot that they were in in the old stadium, for $10 more per game, which all in all isn't that bad. We're considering purchasing those two seats as well, assuming there's a market for resale. Our 604Bs have yet to be relocated because that was only a partial season package, and the Yankees started the relocation process with full season ticket holders.

I don't even know why they bother calling it a contract. They should call it what it is: us signing our lives and all of our money away to them for the next 4 years guaranteed. All I can say is that it better be worth it.

at least it's pretty... :]


Anonymous said...

hahah i didn't know i could do this... i don't know what i'm doing

i decided to read your blog... i love it

guarantee you in a few years they make it so you can't even wear clothes in... you have to buy merchandise to wear

no cameras either... have to buy those inside too

yuppy status =]

nybaseballfan said...

Did you doubt their ability to make money? My all-star game tickets were $550 the outfield!