We've all seen the Internet banner ads promoting discounted tickets for sporting events in the area. In fact, we usually have them on this site. I'm not a money man, so I'm not entirely sure how they work, but they offer tickets to various single games at incredibly low prices.
On the surface it seems like a good deal for everyone. The fans get to the games with enough money leftover for a couple beers, and the team gets to sell tickets that they wouldn't have otherwise sold. It's like that hotel thing with William Shatner but infinitely less annoying. But is it possible that there is a downside to this whole situation that we've all been overlooking? Dave McKenna at the Washington City Paper wonders what these deals will mean for the future of ticket sales and if they might just kill the concept of the season ticket entirely. I'll tell you why I disagree after the jump.
McKenna spoke with a sports marketer named Rob Tuchman, who claims that the tickets are another sign of the death of the season ticket.
"This all got started back in 2005 and 2006," Tuchman says, "when a lot of teams would see these huge prices on Stubhub, and they said, 'Hey, the Yankees/Red Sox tickets are going for $1000! We need to be capitalizing on this!' And so teams got into the ticket broker marketplace, and it's backfired horribly on them now. You see all these tickets going for below face value."
The reason why Tuchman believes team started utilizing these services is the exact reason I don't believe that the system will work. As he says, when tickets were being brokered by individuals they went for well above face value. A team can not sell tickets for above face value (because whatever the team chooses to sell them at is considered their "face value"), so they either break even or lose money when they try to sell them through these brokers. I don't think they will continue to do something that is costing them money.
I think the solution is what the NFL has done, which is introducing a brokerage system that allows ticket holders to sell their seats to individuals through the league. That way they can continue to get the money from selling the tickets originally at face value, and possibly even benefit from the convenience charges that they can charge for providing that type of service.
If teams have to sell tickets at below face value just so they can take advantage of the independent brokers, than it is something that they will not continue to do. They might want to take advantage of the money being made by people selling their tickets but I don't think there is a way to make that work. The best thing they can hope for is that people buy a full season of tickets at face value. Anything they do after that it is completely out of their hands.
I think that teams will eventually see that they aren't making money off these deals and back off. And once they do the team will still be the original source for tickets. If a team is popular enough the organization will have no problem selling season tickets.