Thursday, April 23, 2009

Even in New York, not enough people can afford an afternoon at the ballgame

It's not often that I sympathize with the New York Yankees.

I once told a friend of mine when we were discussing which baseball teams we liked that at the end of the day I rooted for 'any team that doesn't play its home games in the Bronx.'

But you have to feel just a little bit for the Steinbrenner family about now.

They made a decision before the recession to put together and spend $1.6 billion for a new Yankee Stadium, replacing the legendary old park that was better known as 'the house that Ruth built,' recognizing the man who is still the greatest Yankee (and some believe still the greatest ballplayer) ever.

In order to ensure that their 'build it and they will come' philosophy would work, the Yanks went out and spent millions more on C.C. Sabathia, the cream of the free agent crop, adding to their team payroll which for years has been at the top of the list in baseball.

Of course to recoup all that revenue they jacked up the prices to sky high, even by New York standards. The luxury section, known as the 'legends suite,' sells for $500-$2500 per ticket, per game (plus a small additional surcharge for non-season ticket holders.) That of course is just to get your seat, amenities extra-- at inflated ballpark prices of course.

Only a funny thing is happening though. The Yankees built it, but they did not come.

The most expensive spots in America's costliest ballpark have become an embarrassment packing a financial sting to the proud New York Yankees, as the Legends Suite section in the infield has been filled only once in the six games since the $1.5 billion stadium opened last week.

On most days, the 1,895 seats that cost $500-$2,500 as part of season tickets and go up to $2,625 for individual games haven't been close to full. And as TV cameras pick up the patchy attendance with every pitch, it serves as a little tweak to America's richest baseball team.

"We're done talking about seats," Yankees president Randy Levine said on Wednesday. "We're not talking about seats."

Just a bit annoyed, wouldn't you say? The article goes on to point out that there are even a bunch of empty seats behind home plate (imagine seeing empty seats behind home plate in the old Yankee stadium.) Apparently during a recession even America's most storied franchise with a brand new park can't just keep raising prices like it was the mid 2000's when they began working on this project.

Even in New York, there aren't enough people with enough money to spend it like that any more.


Jack Hampton said...

It's going on ten years since the Yankees won a World Series.

During all that time they've outspent everyone else, and they still keep coming up short every year. Just wondering, what was the Yankees' payroll last year, and what was Tampa Bay's?

Goes to show, money isn't everything.

sandyh said...

This is the House that A Rod built?

I bet there are plenty of New Yorkers (and those living in the surrounding environs) who would love to be able to afford to go to those games. It's a shame that only TV revenues matter to the owner.

They have lost their way.