I had a sobering conversation yesterday with one of the biggest Detroit Tigers fans I know. He has an 81-game season ticket package at Comerica Park. In fact, he’s had it since the park opened in 2000.
On his way home from the ballpark, he stopped by to tell me about the prices of the post-season ticket packages now being offered by the Tigers. He told me that a 12-game post-season package costs the same as his 81-game regular season ticket plan.
As baseball fans around the country know all too well, MLB post-season packages are paid in full upfront regardless of how far your team advances in the playoffs. Fans are forced to pay for World Series tickets, for example, with no guarantee that their team will even make it into the Fall Classic. Refunds are issued later for the games that never take place.
I have to imagine that Detroit’s economy is throwing a wrench into MLB’s post-season ticket practices. How many fans can actually afford to attend all of the post-season games at Comerica Park? I’m sure many fans who want the tickets figure they can sell a certain number of them to help pay for the games they actually attend. But will the secondary market for playoff tickets be strong enough to fetch a premium? It seems to me that ticket supply has the potential to grossly outweigh demand in Detroit these days.
The last two games at Comerica Park must have the Tigers’ brass a little worried. There are an awful lot of empty seats at Comerica Park given the fact that the Tigers are playing well, have been in first place since mid-May, are in a heated pennant race, and are within striking distance of winning their first division championship in 22 years. Something is amiss.
The truth is that prices matter — and the days of borrowing money from tomorrow to pay for today’s pleasure are waning fast in the Motor City and around the rest of the country, too. It will be interesting to see if there are any empty seats at Comerica Park during the playoffs — or if the Tigers will be forced to lower ticket prices in order to avoid such an embarrassment.