Ticketmaster is vying to replace StubHub as the site where fans can officially resell their Major League Baseball tickets.
The contract between MLB Advanced Media and StubHub is coming up for renewal, and, as I mentioned in previous columns, some teams are very unhappy with the old deal.
Nobody involved in the talks was eager to discuss this subject with me. But since I’m tired of writing just about politics and the economy, I decided to put together the pieces of this puzzle.
And what it looks like is an intriguing brawl between new commerce and old — teams that want their tickets sold at the highest price versus fans who want discounts.
The Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels, I’m told, are the two teams most dissatisfied by the StubHub contract — and it’s not surprising. Despite being in a heated pennant race, Yankees tickets would fit nicely on the dollar menu at McDonald’s.
Tickets for tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays can be purchased on StubHub for between $1 and $3. That’s well below box-office prices.
Even after you add on $10.45 in service charges (which apply to the entire order, not each ticket), seats acquired through StubHub are still much cheaper than those bought at the stadium box office or on Yankees.com.
And that has the Yanks seething.
The Boston series a couple of weeks from now is only a little better, with many seats listed at under $10. That’s less than the price of a beer at the Stadium.
Boston is out of the pennant race, but the series still has appeal because the Red Sox could act as spoilers to the Yanks.
The Yankees have been pressuring StubHub to place a minimum price at which people can resell the tickets, but that request is being denied. Even if the Yankees got what they wanted, there is still no way of preventing ticket holders from going onto StubHub on their own — or another site like Craigslist — and dumping their ducats at rock-bottom prices.
The Yankees have threatened to start their own official resale site, but sources say they couldn’t go it alone. And MLB probably doesn’t have enough time to develop a private site for all the teams.
So it’s likely going to be Ticketmaster or StubHub again, with teams being given some flexibility.
What will likely happen is this: MLB will sign with either StubHub or Ticketmaster and then let teams opt out. If StubHub wins a contract renewal, for instance, the Yankees could still decide to make Ticketmaster their official re-seller.
Ticketmaster, which already has deals with the NFL and the NBA, doesn’t like price floors either, so that might irk the Bombers.
The basic problem in baseball is supply and demand: too many games and too many seats. Brokers, in particular, can buy season tickets and recoup their investment on just a few key games. Broker tickets for lesser games can be —and are — dumped on the resale market at very low prices.
I just hope this whole thing doesn’t lead the Yankees to start using variable ticket pricing. But, I strongly believe that’s the way this is heading.