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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Loyal Fans Are Batting Cleanup

The Wall Street Journal reminded us on Thursday that Loyal Fans Are Batting Cleanup.

"The season-ticket holder represents an annuity that is the life blood of the organization."

"I've never seen so many longtime customers -- some with season tickets dating back to 1969 -- saying they have no choice but to bow out this year," says Mark Tilson, Royals vice president of marketing and sales. Adds Terry Loose, a season-ticket salesman for the team, "I've literally had my customers say it came down to buying the tickets or feeding their families. I told them to feed their families."

It is encouraging for sports organizations to respect their customers anew. Better late than never. Kansas City is a start. Considering all of the economic hardship in the Greater NY area, perhaps the fan will get some common courtesy from the Giants down the road. John Mara has the decency and tact to keep his mouth shut. Steve Tisch is another story. He wants those PSLs sold, and the moment they are, then you'll start seeing him 'behaving' better. Which will likely be more duplicitousness on his behalf. What a difference 4 years makes- we lost the Duke and got Steve Tisch. Bad trade.

Addendum Saturday morning 830AM- Phil Mushnick reminds us that the Yankee seat pricing which failed over a year ago gives them no ability to use the economy as cover for their greed. The only unfortunate thing about the Yankee story is that Tisch probably thinks he is a charitable saint, giving away his PSLs in comparision.

Separately, the only PSLs which were NOT priced egregiously were the 1K terrace seats. But we have a warning from someone who is a consultant on the new Meadowlands Stadium- those seats in the upper tier are much higher up than they were for the 3rd tier in the current stadium. We checked the panorama exterior webcam, and you can see that the top of the seats from the old stadium is below while the top tier of the new stadium is still extending higher. Hey, they have to put those suites on FOUR separate levels. In 16 months from now we'll get reports from fans in the upper deck who are not happy with how far up they are. "You get what you pay for?" Apparently you can run up to the terrace but you cannot hide.

3 comments:

Norm said...

Sad to say, but all this PSL silliness is actually an improvement over the way owners had sought to finance their vanity capital projects in the not too distant past.

It wasn't all that long ago when the billionaire owners of sports franchises would hold cities and their taxpayers' hostage whenever they wanted financing for one of their vanity capital projects. "Your money or your team," they'd threaten the city and its sports fans. And usually the local politicos would crumble under the pressure.

But then your Joe Average, non-sports fan taxpayer - who cared more about funding for schools, roads, parks, and police - began to push back. At which point the pols and their shills in the media concocted the cover story that these stadium projects provided an "economic boost" to communities in the form of increased tourism spending and more seven dollar an hour popcorn vendor jobs than you can shake a stick at. Well, it wasn't long before that absurd notion was debunked and the tax dollars for stadiums scam became such a political liability that no office holder desirous of re-election would touch it.

No longer able to rape the general taxpayer, the billionaire owners decided to rape their loyal fans instead. And so the PSL was born. And, yes, it was an improvement as it did get the taxpayer who couldn't give a rat's ass about sports off the hook. But as Andy and others have correctly pointed out, it has placed an undue burden on the fans who had been the most responsible for the franchise’s success; the very same customer base whose loyal patronage of the team’s home games had even made the idea of a new stadium feasible to begin with.

It’s heartening to see the fans starting to push back against this injustice in much the same way that the taxpayers had a few years ago. The owners constantly like to remind us that sports is a business. Well, then it’s time that they take their cue from how other businesses conduct their affairs. Does Safeway charge its customers a “Personal Shopper License” to finance a new grocery store that it wants to build in the neighborhood? Of course not; the company spends its own money to build the store with the belief that it will entice enough local shoppers to allow the company to recoup its investment.

No reason that your billionaire sports owner can’t do the same. If they already have a dedicated fan base in place who is willing to pay the outrageous game day prices for parking, admission, beer, hot dogs and team paraphernalia, they should hang on to them like grim death. Particularly in a sour economic climate in which many family’s budgets for discretionary spending are already severely overtaxed. Why risk sending them to the movies or the beach rather than the ballpark by charging them extra for the right to spend their limited discretionary dollars at your place of business?

Pastime Princess said...

Norm
Very Very Very well said.

George

Mitch said...

Norm that was as elegantly expressed as I have ever heard here or anywhere else.

So what is a fan to do? How powerless are we?

There are companies that would be dead if it were not for taxpayer assistance. Help them die...don't buy anything from a company that received bailout money. Sports teams and their PSLs? Suck it up and don't buy them. Don't go. Don't buy shirts, hats, jerseys. Darwinism.

We are fans and fan is a contraction of the word fanatic. That's what we are...and the likelihood that we don't support our team is almost ludicrous. We can't help ourselves.


Ralph Vacchiano wrote the other day...

After 10 months of trying, the Giants have still not sold out their PSLs. They have offered PSLs to every season-ticket holder, and to all 140,000 people on their waiting list.

Obviously this is not what they expected. They never dreamed they'd go 10 months and through their entire waiting list and still not be sold out.

They have no plans to lower the prices - which would be problematic, given how they've already sold some at those prices.

The bottom line is the remaining PSLs are priced for corporations, not for people. Corporations aren't buying them, and people on the waiting list don't seem to want to pay those prices.

I remember reading somewhere that what saves capitalism from ultimately running out of control and cannibalizing its consumer core is the collective understanding that profits must be used for more than reinvestment, growth and expansion; a substantial proportion must be committed to the health and perpetuation of the community as a whole.
Today, that is one thing the market seems unable to bear.

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