Tag Archives: Yankees

Maybe Fans Aren’t That Mad About Yankee Ticket Prices

We’ve shown that exorbitant ticket prices appear to be impacting the attendance for the Yankees more than the Mets, but in general, besides bad PR, the Yankees are still benefitting financially. So beyond managing the general news outlets and media through traditional PR efforts, let’s look for negative sentiment within other social media platforms.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that the Yankees hold the upper hand in popularity in New York, according to a recent New York Times, Cornell and NY1 poll. New Yorkers favor the Yankees (34%) over the Mets (25%) – although a third of New Yorkers don’t favor either. In other words, among those that favor one team over the other, 57% favor the Yankees.

Thus it’s not too surprising that the number of posts in blogs, Twitter, forums and other social media for the two New York teams mirror their real world popularity (I used Radian6 dashboards to filter down the posts over the last 30 days):

All social mentions of the Yankees and Mets over the last 30 days

But just as a previous post pointed out the new stadium ticket pricing is impacting attendance for the Yankees more than the Mets, a similar pattern shows up in the volume of posts across social media: the Yankees lead the Mets by a 3-to-1 margin.

Yankees and Mets and social mentions that specifically address ticket prices

Before we go further, it’s pretty apparent that whereas ticket prices were a big issue around the start of the season, it is not a hot topic now: only 1.1% of social mentions about the Yankees concerning ticket prices (202 of 17.679). Even further, we don’t have a feel for which percentage of those mentions are negative.

Let’s focus in on blogs (they make up just about half of all mentions). The Radian6 tool doesn’t provide automated sentiment classificationat this point (a feature coming this summer), so I’ll turn to another tool, SocialMention.com. Of the 137 blog posts about the Yankees ticket prices, SocialMention.com shows a favorable sentiment of 2:1 with 41 positive mentions and 17 negative mentions (the rest being neutral). With only 17 negative posts out of 137, it’s relatively easy to dive down manually and identify specific blogs, their relative post strength signifying the influence of the poster, as well as identifying the extent of the negative sentiment:

Example of SocialMention.com results for blog posts about Yankees ticket prices where the sentiment is negative

This is great for honing in on a specific topic and understanding what users are saying, but it gets daunting if topics drive a prolific number of posts.

After listening to users, if the Yankees identify a specific issue that needs to be addressed, the next step is how to reach those users. Beyond reaching out to hardcore season ticketholders, email lists of fans and the traditional press, it might be worth engaging the blogosphere where a majority of comments are made. While Social Mention lets you sort on comments based on post rank, tools like Raidan6 let you aggregate at the blog/poster level to identify some of the more “influential” blogs (aggregating posts from a specific source and using Radian6’s algorithm based on the number of on-topic posts, replies, inboud links, etc.).

For the Yankees, specifically around ticket prices, these were the top five most influential blogs over the last 30 days: the LoHud Yankees blog by the Lower Hudson Journal’s beat writer, River Ave. Blues, the official YES network Yankees blog (which the Yanks ostensibly control); Sliding Into Home by a die-hard Yankees fan; Kevin Davidoff’s Baseball Insider, by a Newsday beat writer; and Bronx Banter . It appears the most influential blogs appear to be properties already tied to press or beat writers, which are already probably being served by traditional PR efforts.

In this specific example, with only 1.1% of comments being about ticket prices and only 12% of those potentially negative,the perception of bad PR around the high-cost of Yankees tickets doesn’t appear to be as negative as some in the blogosphere would like to suggest. Yankee fans are much more concerned about A-Rod slumping or losing to the Nationals and may be resigned to the fact that they are going to end up watching their Bombers on TV rather than at the Stadium.

Mets, Yankees Attendance Down by Double Digits – Are the New Ballparks to Blame?

Can’t believe it’s been over a month since I’ve done a post on baseball (heck, Manny Ramirez is almost back!?), so thought I’d tackle how the new stadiums for both the Mets and Yankees are impacting overall attendance this year.

First off, the home attendance numbers:

  • The Yankees average home game attendance is down 15% from 53,069 to 45,089
  • The Mets average home game attendance is down 24% from 51,165 to 38,925

So off-hand, that looks pretty bad. New ballparks and the numbers are down year-over-year in double digits? There are a lot of mitigating factors: a) both clubs actually shrunk their capacity in the process of replacing their old parks, b) the economy is hurting attendance across the board, and c) the increase in ticket prices making a trip to these new stadiums even more expensive.

The Case of the Shrinking Stadium

  • The Yankee Stadium capacity dropped 8.9% from 56,866 to 51,800
  • CitiField is 27.3% smaller than old Shea Stadium, meaning the Mets capacity dropped from 57,534 to a cozy 41,800

Right there, you can make the case that the Mets are doing a better job at selling out the new ballpark – the park got 27% smaller, but the attendance is only down 24%. Hitting 93% of capacity (up from 89%) is pretty strong. The Yankees are seeing the opposite, going from 93% of capacity to 87%. If you expected the Yankees, everything else equal, to maintain the 93% sell-out they had in the last stadium, then you would expect this year’s attendance to be 48,175, leaving the Yankees down 3,086 in attendance per game or about 6.4%.

Of course, this all is under assumption that you wouldn’t sell out a game. Part of the theory of making smaller stadiums, is that you’d make nearly every game a sellout. I mean, if there were 53,000 Yankees fans attending a game on average, then filling the Stadium every night with 51,800 shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Wrigley Field has a capacity of 41,118 and they’re filling up 39,978 each game (97.2%). Fenway Park capacity fluctuates around 37,000 (depending on day and night games) and is 100% sold out.

So let’s look at the park-adjusted attendance shortfalls using a 97% sell-out rate:

  • Yankees home attendance should be 50,246 and at 45,089 are 10.3% short
  • Mets home attendance should be 40,546 and at 38,925 are 4% short

It’s the Economy Stupid

  • The economy has definitely beat up baseball: MLB Attendance is down 10% across the board (thru June 19th) – which would put us at the lowest level since 2003
  • Take out the Mets and Yankees figures though (plus remove the woeful Washington Nationals who are down close to 9,000 per game) and overall attendance is down 8.3%

That seems to explain away the Mets shortfall (dare I say they are doing better than the economy would expect them to and may actually be seeing some of the new ballpark effect?), but it doesn’t completely explain the Yankees adjusted 10.3% shortfall. Take out the general impact of the economy and the Yankees are about 2% short of where you’d expect them to be.

Those Tickets Cost How Much?

Yes, time to digest the much squawked about, nasty situation around ticket prices for the new ballparks: The Team Marketing Report [PDF] shows that at the start of the season:

  • the average Yankee ticket is $72.97 (up 76.3% from $41.40) – tops in baseball
  • the average Mets ticket is $36.99 (up 8.6%) – good for 4th highest overall

Now granted, the Yankees begrudgingly reduced the 146 behind-home-plate $2,500 seats to $1,250, but when you do the math, the average Yankee ticket is still a whopping $69.45 or 68% higher! No wonder 83% of fans think the ticket prices are a rip-off according to a Marist College poll in early June.

But put in perspective, the exorbitant prices appear to only be holding the Yankees back 2% of where you’d expect them to be. That’s a far cry from luxury items seeing 15% or higher declines and truthfully, even at $70 these really aren’t luxury items.

Bad PR, Nice Bottom Line

Very roughly (because I’m using the average ticket price) the Yankees are going from last season’s $2.197 million per game (53,069 at an average $41.40) to this year’s $3.131 million per game (45,089 @ $69.45) for a very sweet 42% increase in the Yankees’ bottom line. Compare that to the Mets going from $1.742 million per game (51,165 @ $34.05) to $1.440 million (38,925 @ $36.99) and the Mets look like they are going backwards. Even at capacity, the Mets would be making $200,000 less per game in ticket sales than they did during the final season at Shea Stadium.

So with that newly fattened war chest, might be a good time for the Yankees to invest in social media monitoring. We’ll take a look at just how bad the buzz is around Yankee ticket prices in the next post.

A Tale of Two (New) Stadiums: CitiField and Yankee Stadium

Baseball is a pastime, a way to leisurely spend an afternoon or evening, a pleasurable diversion from the (seemingly endless) insanity of the “real” world. Or at least I like to think so. With a bit more extra time on my hands due to the financial crisis, I got a chance to enjoy both new New York ballparks in a scant 36 hours this week: the new Yankee Stadium and the new home of the Mets, CitiField.

Making an Entrance

Maybe I’ve spent too much time optimizing user flows for websites over the last decade, but to me a critical part of how you experience a stadium is how you get into a stadium. My personal favorites are Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field for slightly different reasons. Growing up in LA, I frequented Dodger Stadium and one of the grandest designs is that it’s built into a hillside, so you came into the stadium on the level where you are sitting – no crazy stairs or elevators in the Stadium; you enter and you see the field almost immediately. Wrigley, on the other hand has a fairly dark concourse, but where ever you enter, you have a small staircase and you are greeted with a shock of green grass, like escaping winter and happening upon a Secret Garden, where everyone enters at field level.

For New York’s new ballparks, CitiField got it right, Yankee Stadium, not so much. The majority of fans arrive by rail, and for CitiField, the redesigned station is a straight shot right to the Jackie Robinson rotunda. Gone is the up and down stairs, dodging traffic, etc. And it’s a solid, straight-forward flow through the bag-check/frisk/ticket lines right into the rotunda, where two dead-ahead escalators take fans to the main concourse that give you a beautiful view of the whole field.

At Yankee Stadium, the 161st Street subway stations drop you off and you get to dodge a couple lanes of traffic before getting to the main gates. The gates are all aligned along the south part of the building, with a multitude of entry points, but the problem is that you have to walk through the nearest lines to get to the more open lines further down, so there’s a ton of congestion. Once you do the bag/frisk/ticket rhumba, you are then greeted with a great hall, but directly in front of you is a mostly white concrete wall. You have to take a couple stairs or escalators before you see the concourse, and you’re dumped off outside of 1st base, versus being dumped out behind homeplate like at CitiField. The addition of a MetroNorth stop at Yankee Stadium later this year will relieve the insanity of the sardine-packed subway trains, but it won’t do much to change the visitor flow into the stadium.

The Field’s the Thing (or Who Needs a Seat?)

Where both stadiums got it right is the true open feeling of the stadium. In the past, the concourses were somewhat narrow, and you stared at concrete with only a small snippet of the field (or sky) viewable through a tunnel to the seats. In both stadiums, the concourses are broad, with completely open views of the field.

In fact, it’s so broad that it seemed to us that there were more people standing at the game than actually sitting in their seats. For the Yankee game, we had the ultimate nosebleed seats ($22) in the next to last row of the upper deck in left field – high above the flag and foul poles. We sat in them for about five minutes (it was cold) and spent the rest of the game standing in (the relative warmth of) centerfield, or sitting behind the various seating areas all around the stadium.

Both parks seemed to get that, offering up a more social experience and giving you the opportunity to experience the game from multiple vantage points. We got to see the game much better than if we sat in our initial seats.

It’s the Economy Stupid

The only other thing I can say is that neither of these stadiums might have seen the light of day because there just wouldn’t be the city and state funding to finance them. Enough has been written about the exorbitant ticket prices at Yankee Stadium (they finally caved to drop the premium seats from $2,500 to $1,250 after most of them went unsold), but how about the food prices? Photo by Alexis MaindraultI think just one example should paint a clear picture:

  • Shake Shack burger at CitiField is $6.75
  • Johnny Rockets burger at Yankee Stadium is $9.00

And in general, that price differential between the stadiums seemed to hold up, with most CitiField entrees in the $6-7 range and Yankee Stadium in the $9-$10 range. The business model for the new Yankee Stadium might have been based on the Wall Street finance guy expense account world, but the empty suites and seats (making it look like a game at Safeco Field — sorry my Seattle friends) hopefully will send a message to the Yankees that they need to be more proactive about adjusting to the times.

Bag Check

Both of my companions to these games brought a bag to stadium: Alexis brought a backpack at CitiField, Andy a work satchel at Yankee Stadium. No problem at CitiField – just a check of the bag and we were through. The Yankees are a helluva lot less accommodating on what you can bring into the stadium:

  • No backpacks, briefcases, attaché cases, coolers, glass or plastic bottles, cans, large purses, bags or video cameras will be permitted into the ballpark. You must leave these items in your vehicle before entering the ballpark.
  • No laptops are permitted into the stadium.
  • No items will be claim checked. You will be asked to return them to your vehicle.

That said, if I don’t HAVE a vehicle, well, there’s Stan’s SportsWorld down the block, where we were directed. Nothing like trading your earthly belongings for $7 to a guy running a storefront!

Other Notes

  • CitiField is still like Shea in that the airplanes still make a helluva lot of noise taking off over the field; I did like the little touches that the Mets embrace that and actually showed planes taking off in the player montages that show up on the video board.
  • Sponsorships might have been harder to come by in CitiField than in Yankee Stadium. Two huge signs on either side of the huge CitiField centerfield video screen are advertising a construction equipment company in Queens. Take it a step further and the “race to the stadium” mid-inning promo/fan-distraction-event was two flatbed trucks, one carrying a light-stand generator and the other a forklift. In past years it was two Delta Airline jets or different color cars from a specific auto brand. At Yankee Stadium it remains the three subway lines.
  • Enough has been said about the Mohegan Sun Bar in centerfield at Yankee Stadium in the way it blocks the beacher views for both sides. I love the deck above it, but think the Yanks should totally redesign it in the off-season.
  • Want a fast line for $9 Johnny Rockets burgers or a $6 pizza slice at Yankee Stadium? Try the field-facing side of the food court in Centerfield, where for some reason the lines were extremely short compared to the concourse-side of the food court. In fact, arrive early at both stadiums and head to centerfield to get the best eats. The Carnitas at CitiField were tasty.
  • CitiField has a pretty extensive assortment of beers available in the centerfield food court area – more than I’ve ever seen at a ballpark (exotic stuff like Leffe and Tiger). Plus they have Brooklyn Brewery ales at all the “bottled beer” stands around the stadium in addition to the regular Bud/Heniekin. Regarding Yankee Stadium, the options aren’t great: http://riveraveblues.com/2009/04/the-stadium-beer-because-its-five-oclock-somewhere-10890/

Bottom Line

Listen, I’m a National League fan and my allegiances are to the Mets (right after the Dodgers) so there is always the possibility for a little bias, but I tried to keep really open-minded. Both fields are humongous improvements in enjoying a game (Shea was a pit, Yankee Stadium was showing its age), especially the openness of the concourses and better sightlines from just about all the seats. But in the end I think the Mets got some of the little things right more often than the Yankees did, with CitiField excelling in being lighter on the budget and a lot less hassle.