Mets and Yankees Playing the OPEC Game

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIApril 15, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 13:  Citi Field is seen after the New York Mets lost 6-5 to the San Diego Padres on April 13, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.This is the first regular season MLB game being played at the new venue which replaced Shea Stadium as the Mets home field.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Don't you think New York's Mets and Yankees took a page right out of the OPEC playbook?  You know about OPEC, the oil cartel - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

OPEC believes in using production quotas to increase the price of oil.  Don't you think the Mets and Yankees believe with seating reduction, they'll be able to increase the price of a ticket?  I'm thinking they might but why would you distrust your local sports franchise?

It's a "supply and demand" thing with the emotion of sports thrown into the equaton.  Limit the amount of seats in a stadium and create more demand for tickets.

Oh my god! There won't be any seats left.  I better pay what they're asking and I better buy early, before they're all gone.

Citi Field, the Mets new ball park, has a seating capacity of 42,000.  The Mets averaged over 51,000 in Shea last year.  The Mets built a ballpark that holds close to 10,000 less fans than want to come to the game. THAT MAKES SENSE!

Same thing with the Yankees.  Last year they lead MLB in attendance—over 53,000—and the new Yankee Stadium has 5,000 fewer seats than the old one.

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I remember games when they squeezed 59,000 fans into Shea Stadium.  Those days and those large crowds are a thing of the past.

Is there any other reason, besides an increase in ticket prices, that would lead them to decrease seating capacity?  Good question!  Small stadiums cost less and are easier to mantain than large stadiums. 

The Red Sox and Cubs have been playing the OPEC game for years.  They've been making tons of money in stadiums that seat under 40,000, small by MLB standards.

The Red Sox can barely accomodate 34,000 fans but are approaching 500 consecutive sellouts, so they can charge just about anything they want for a ticket.

They led the league in the average price of a ticket last year.  An average ticket at Fenway costs over $50 in 2009.

This year an average ticket for a Yankee game costs over $72. That's a 76 percent increase over last year's $41.40.

After the Yanks and Red Sox it's the Cubs.  An average priced ticket in Wrigley Field costs $47.75.

The average price of a Mets ticket in 2009 is $36.99.  That's not as bad as the Yankess but let's face it, until they win another championship - they're second class citizens in the Big Apple.

The average price for a ticket to see the Arizona Diamondbacks is $14.31 and the league average is $26.74, up 5.4 percent from last year.

The Yankees have decided that the demand will be so great that they are charging $2635 for premium seating. I don't know what you get with premium seating—a nine inning lap dance and a box of Cuban Cigars?

The Mets are a little more reasonable.  Premium seating at Citi Field is only $690. The highest ticket for an Astros game is $50 and it's $60 for the Phillies.

So what's going to make a fan pay these prices?  It's like this;  Let's say that Tennessee and Vanderbilt are both undefeated when they play, on the last day of the college football season. The game is to be played in Neyland Stadium, which  holds 104,000 but they just discovered that the level of toxic waste below the playing surface is way above normal.

The game has to be moved to Vanderbilt Stadium, which holds only 41,000 and to make things fair, tickets will be sold on a bidding system.

Can you imagine what a ticket would go for?  Would some of the die-hards consider selling body organs to come up with the bread?  Maybe!

Isn't that pretty much what the Mets concluded—Cut down the amount of available tickets and people will pay more?  Hell, they got to pay for the stadium!

The Mets and the Yankees are joining the Red Sox and Cubs in the "less is more" club.  More seats will drive the price down. Less seats will drive the price up.

And it's a win-win situation for these teams.  When prices go up, who buys the tickets?  Wealthy people!  And who has the money to buy a beer and a hot dog for $15?  Wealthy people!

That's the answer. Turn the game into an elitist sport and forget about the blue collar fans that made this game great—the people that spent their hard earned money to support baseball.  Forget them!

The city of New York has really forgotten about the average fan. They've let the Mets and the Yankees get away with it. They've done nothing to make it possible for a family to see a game without spending a ton of money.

And when I say "see a game", I'm talking about actually being able to sit in the same zip code as the players.

As I watched the Mets home opener the other night, I thought it was a little strange when the announcer said "it's a packed house tonight: 42,000". 

In the largest city in the country, and a real baseball town, seating was cut 25 percent in the Mets new home.

That's elitist. That's what OPEC does when they want prices to rise.  And, you know how we feel about OPEC!

As for the Red Sox and Cubs; why build larger stadiums? They'll probably lose money if  people know they can walk up to the gate and buy a ticket on game day.

As for the Mets and Yankees; It's easy to root against them, their high payrolls, their high tickets prices and their high brows.