It’s pretty common knowledge that if you are a full season ticket holder, you’re very happy with the Yankees right now because you got good seats. This is fine, as full season holders of any seniority take priority over partial plans and as I outlined in my last relocation post this is not the problem.
The Yankees have had partial season plans for years and years (since at least the 70s) and my understanding is that they were the pioneer in this area. Partial plans are a great way to guarantee ticket sales to non-premium games, they build up a community of fans who sit together, yadda yadda. The licensee gets a slight discount on tickets, the team guarantees that the Stadium has at least X amount of people in it every game. Anyway, what this means is that there are a lot of people who have had their tickets for a very long time–and the partial plans are what allowed the Yankees to boost their very high number of full season ticket equivalents in the past.
However a few notable things have changed in the last few years that push the partial season licenses to the curb for now:
- Yankees tickets have experienced a sharp increase in demand. The average attendance was about 28k in 1996, and stayed around 40k-42k from 1999-2003. Then in 2004 the average went up to 45K and peaked last year (for obvious reasons) at 52K though in the in-between years it was still about 50k (I pulled these numbers from Baseball-Almanac). With an overall increase in ticket sales, the need to push midweek plans at a small discount from normal ticket prices (or non-full season packages) diminishes. Yeah the stadium might be half-empty in April when it’s cold and raining but they’ve still sold 50k tickets for the event (as a person who loves to attend midweek games I noticed this particular circumstance many times).
- It is now much easier for normal folks to sell tickets than in the past. Before StubHub (and even during the beginning of the StubHub era before the MLB contract when the Yankees would threaten people to take their licenses away), it was harder to sell tickets for games you didn’t want to attend. Sure, you could pawn them off on co-workers or buddies but you couldn’t buy, say, a full season plan with the idea of only going to the weekend games and listing all your midweek ones. Many people who upgraded their plans to full season this year are doing this (and who can blame them, they got the best seats). Go look at some of the midweek games in the early cold months of Spring on StubHub.
- Large numbers of actual ticket brokers investing in Yankees plans. The Yankees have many games where the seat prices can be sold at a very high premium–notably those against the Red Sox. This makes Yankees tickets rather lucrative if you have a good location for reselling (infield grandstand, bleachers). You can’t blame people for taking on profitable ventures!
These three things, combined with the huge amounts of luxury seating and sometimes outright ridiculously overpriced field level areas, push out partial plan holders from many areas of the stadium where they used to sit. Much of the main/field level are not available to partial holders who sat there last year and the areas that are simply cost too much (most notably the infamous “Between the Bases” $350 seats the Yankees are having huge problems pawning off on people).
The most popular of the partial plans by far are (were?) the weekend (Saturday/Sunday) ones and those are where people are taking the hit (well, other than the half season plan but that’s a whole other mess). The Yankees changed many of their plans this year, and the ones that seem to be affecting this the most are the 41 (formerly 46 game) plan and the now non-flex plans. The old B plan gave the licensees all the M-F games, leaving the weekend free. Flex plan holders could only buy a specific amount of Fri-Sat and premium games, again leaving big chunks of the weekend free. Now they are on alternating game schedules where these three plans combine to make up “one” seat for the full season (41/20/20 = 81 games). Half season holders now have weekend tickets they did not in the past, and the 20 Game Plan #1 has 8 of its games fall on the weekend. This pushes out a good number of the many people who had 15 game plans for Saturday and Sunday.
Will any of this change? Well, probably but not right away. Depending on how things go, full season holders might downgrade or not reup as they find themselves unable to afford the seats and so on but none of that is something you can really predict. Maybe next year all the people who took the midweek plans they can’t use to keep their seniority don’t reup in 2010 if they’re once again told there are no Saturday/Sunday plans. There are a lot of variables, and if something like a World Series Championship happens it all gets thrown out the window anyway.