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After complaining off and on about attendance the past decade, the White Sox announced an experimentation to actually do something about it.
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox today announced the club will experiment with a dynamic pricing structure for certain seating sections during all seven games of the final 2010 homestand. Tickets in designated seating sections will be available with dynamic pricing, providing fans with more ticket pricing options, for all games vs. Boston (September 27-30) and Cleveland (October 1-3).
Ticket prices for seats in select sections will move upward and downward based on market demand and a variety of other factors. Through dynamic pricing, select seats for the final series of the season vs. the Cleveland Indians will be priced as low as $15.
The White Sox appear to be veering from their staunch, we-have-revenue-predictions-for-x-years-in-advance pricing model, which hasn’t really served them all that well in this recession. Obviously they can charge what they want; games are a luxury and all that. However, if disposable income isn’t catching up with the price increases, there’s a bit of a fundamental disconnect.
The thought of ticket prices lining up with demand sounds nice, but the first impression doesn’t strike me as an avenue to great value just yet. Yes, you can buy upper-upper deck seats for $15, and thumbs-up for that. But for the hell of it, I selected the “dynamic price offer” option for two of the best available lower bowl seats, and it put me in Section 110, nine rows up for $51.
If you just search for two tickets with the same criteria with the “full price ticket” option, you can get seats in Section 153, 34 rows up, for $43.
(Also, it is kinda funny that the game is still considered “prime,” even with a lack of playoff hopes and the Sox going through the motions.)
Upon first trial, the system seems to reserve better seats at higher prices, which strikes me as a wee bit scalpy in this case. They’re basically creating their own secondary market by reserving tickets and attempting to sell them at a higher price.
Then again, there have to be some safeguards in place to keep the people who buy their tickets well in advance from being embittered. The Sox can’t encourage their entire customer base to wait until the last minute, because that would really hurt the revenue if bad weather or bad teams strike.
And if it’s truly “dynamic,” you can’t judge it from a snapshot on the first day of implementation. So I’ll be keeping an eye on those Section 110 seats to see if and how much they move.
If StubHub is any indication, the cost should be on the way down. Right now, you can get tickets right behind the dynamically priced and offered $51 seats for only $30, plus commission.
While on the subject of ticket prices, here’s a thought: Why not create another pricing level in the upper deck — maybe Sections 552-558 and 512-506 — and charge $12 face value on non-prime days?
For a team that isn’t drawing like it thinks it should, it really lacks a price point that is attractive for people who just want to get in the stadium.
Maybe $12 isn’t worth the extra staffing for ushers and maintenance, who can leave those sections alone most of the time. And there would need to be security, if you assume that many of the cheap seaters will make up the expense deficit with alcohol.
But hell, they already treat every upper-deck denizen like a second-class citizen or distant Ligue relative by not allowing them to access the 100 level. It’s a policy that feels slightly degrading, in my opinion, but perhaps they could use it to their advantage to sell considerably cheaper seats. You know, treat it less as a blanket ban and more of an established safeguard in place to prevent an abuse of a decent deal.
It’d be kinda cool if you could use a $20 bill to get in the stadium and get something to eat, even if you have to watch the game from the other side of the Dan Ryan.
StubHub gives me some idea that it might be feasible. Right now, I can find two tickets in Section 548 for $19.95 total, so $12 as an everyday price, with the exceptions of the crosstown series and bobblehead days, seems somewhat reasonable. Maybe this flexible system will get us to that point, but I think it’d be beneficial to guarantee a cheap night out than trying to play the market for one.