In an exchange of e-mails between a friend and I this morning, regarding the Yankees ticket price increase for next season, I found myself writing:
The days of going to 9 games [at Yankee Stadium], or more, a year, are out for me. Sad. I can’t afford it. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be there for 3 or 4 games a year.
Thinking about it some more, I’m starting to wonder if Yankee Stadium will become like the Titanic when it set out to sea – with all the rich people staying on top, living the high-life, and all the poor people jammed into the bowels of the ship, crammed in there, huddled, and wondering what it’s like for the affluent folks in the nice parts of the vessel.
Seriously, since the Yankees are “reversing the bowls” in their new Stadium – meaning there will be more seats on the bottom level as opposed to the upper deck, which is the opposite of the current Stadium where there are more seats in the upper deck than at field level – will the new Stadium have all the rich people on the first level and the poor people jammed into what few seats will be there in the upper deck?
Worse, when you factor in the current demand for Yankees tickets, and the lure of the new Stadium, will the average to less-than-average income person even be able to buy Yankees tickets come 2009?
You know, not too long ago, Jacobs Field in Cleveland had 455 straight sellouts from June 12, 1995 through April 4, 2001. Further, the Indians actually sold all 81 home games before opening day during three separate seasons. Needless to say, there was a time when getting a ticket to a baseball game in Cleveland was a hard thing to do.
I was actually in Cleveland, during the season in 1999, on a business trip with a friend – and our meetings were scheduled not far from “The Jake.” On the taxi ride from the airport to our meeting, I asked the cabbie if it was, indeed, impossible to get a ticket to the game (that night). He asked me if the first inning was important to me. When I asked him why, he said “If you want to scalp tickets, you’re going to need a loan from the bank. But, if you’re willing to miss the first inning, by that time, the scalpers are willing to then sell the tickets at face value or less – rather than risk not selling the tickets at all.”
Thinking about this today – is this what it’s going to come down to in the Bronx after 2008? Is the only way that you’ll be able to afford decent seats to a Yankees game will be if you’re willing to scalp after the first inning is already played?
Worse, I don’t think that the Yankees care that they’re forcing the “everyday diehard fan” out of being able to go to a game. There will be enough well-to-do people, celebrities, corporations, etc., willing to buy tickets for games at the new Stadium – so, at the end of the day, the Yankees will still get their revenue. But, I will suggest this: There will be a change in the atmosphere at the new Stadium. With the “died in the wool” fans relegated to the few seats affordable and available in the upper deck and/or bleachers, and the majority of the seats filled with “Milli Vanilli type” poser-fans, going to a Yankees game, after 2008, will have an artificial feel to it.
It’s funny: Many people like to say that the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is vain, sensitive, insecure…and, overcoached and artificial.
Is this the Yankees future? Artificial players and artificial fans?
To quote the Chez Quis Maitre D’ in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “I weep for the future.”