Yankees vs. StubHub
March 6, 2016 1:42 PM   Subscribe

 
HOMER SIMPSON: “Looks like your uncool Dad scored tickets to Hullabalooza!”
LISA: “Bart, these look real.”
BART: “Check the authenticator spot.”
“This is an authentic Hullabalooza ticket. For authentic refreshment, eat Clark bars. And for totally outrageous class rings, it’s Jostens; go Jostens.”
posted by Fizz at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


While the encryption debate is all about pretending an impossible thing (a secure backdoor) is possible, the ticketing nightmare is entirely about pretending a perfectly possible thing (securely and instantaneously transferring a digital ticket) is impossible.
posted by zachlipton at 1:54 PM on March 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


So how much of a cut do the Yankees want from Stubhub? I imagine fraud is a low-priority concern, if they are still accepting hard-stock or printed tickets, so isn't this really about getting action on the resale?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: "So how much of a cut do the Yankees want from Stubhub? I imagine fraud is a low-priority concern, if they are still accepting hard-stock or printed tickets, so isn't this really about getting action on the resale?"

Sounds like they want Stubhub gone. The Yankees would prefer people use their own "Yankees Ticket Exchange:"

This is almost certainly going to take a huge bite out of the StubHub market and it’s clear the Yankees are trying to corner the secondary market via Yankees Ticket Exchange. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve made a last minute decision to go to a game, bought a ticket on StubHub, printed it out, then headed up to the Stadium. Can’t do that anymore.
posted by crazy with stars at 2:03 PM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


All this is going to do is make Yankees games even emptier and look even worse on TV...which as a Mets fan, is kind of an optimal outcome.
posted by hobgadling at 2:05 PM on March 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's the dying gasps of a market activity that's so out of whack with the reality of the economics of the situation that only middlemen upon middlemen are able to provide liquidity and get the tickets to anywhere near market value (both above and below face value).

Which leaves us with two polar opposite possible solutions. Either we can admit we want sports for the public good, nationalize the whole lot and start giving out tickets via lottery on a per citizen basis or the Yankees just start reverse auctioning tickets in sections and the market will sort itself out.
posted by Talez at 2:10 PM on March 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


It's the dying gasps of a market activity that's so out of whack with the reality of the economics of the situation

I just assumed that one reason prices continue to increase is a result of the massive amounts of money that is generated by corporations that purchase those high-end booths and box seats. Increase the costs of all the other seating and even if you don't fill, you've made enough from those corporations. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
posted by Fizz at 2:16 PM on March 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Either we can admit we want sports for the public good, nationalize the whole lot

It seems criminal to give antitrust exemptions to criminal enterprises that rip off the public over stadium construction, rip off ticket buyers who want to bring in their own food, and then rip off ticket buyers again who should otherwise have the right to resell a ticket they own. Organized sports team owners are grifters of the first order, except we make it all legal.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:30 PM on March 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


"though the game is a major spectator sport, the frustration experienced by the audience at not actually being able to see what’s going on leads them to imagine that it’s a lot more exciting than it really is."

...Especially, from what I gather, when the Yankees are involved.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:33 PM on March 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


An NBA team did the same thing and is being sued.
posted by jeather at 2:33 PM on March 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Transferring mobile barcodes through StubHub (or another ticket company) would likely require the use of a third company like Flash Seats, writes Witz. Buyers would have to register with Flash Seats to receive mobile barcodes, allowing the team to track who is sitting in each seat. It would be a way for the Yankees to track the market and possibly charge additional fees."

How absurd. Stubhub already distributes unique one-seat-one-use barcodes at POS for MLB games. A lister actually sets up the sale on SH by *entering* the initial barcode that's on either the walkup hard ticket, the hard season ticket, or the soft ticket (usually a PDF) issued by the stadium via their primary vendor (usually TicketMaster). When the ticket sells, the initially entered barcode is invalidated and a new one is issued, again usually via PDF. This obviously requires transparent integration with the onsite POS ticketing systems and with TicketMaster (or whoever).

That PDF barcode can already be displayed on a phone, and so can images of hard ticket barcodes, and they are perfectly scannable. So, granting that this is about the Yankees' desire to get a bigger cut of resale revenue than SH already provides them, I gotta say the fig leaf here makes no sense to me at all.

That said, rookie and casual CL resellers commonly include their barcodes in the sales pix of the hard tickets they have in hand, and those barcodes are immediately harvested by scammers and sold on SH, so there is an actual problem here that's not simply a Yankees issue. I've seen folks get turned away at Safeco with legit hard tix bought from a naive Craiglister that exposed the barcodes on several occasions. CL should add a warning about exposed bar codes to the "tickets" category, if it's not there already, kinda like they do for auto listings re driveaway scams.
posted by mwhybark at 2:35 PM on March 6, 2016 [7 favorites]




Outlaw professional sports and electronic distribution of sporting events and data. Amateurs only, and accessible only to local people.

Or not. I don't actually care. Any sort of interest I have in sport is more than quenched by the corruption, grift and misconduct that sticks to its aspects as a huge moneymaking enterprise, and I cordially suggest that this be divorced from the competitive aspect.
posted by Devonian at 2:59 PM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Emphasis mine:
"The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money. It's not that we don't want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it's frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount."

Trost then added a comment that raised eyebrows on social media because of its seemingly elitist undertones. "And quite frankly," he said, "the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that's a frustration to our existing fan base."
The Yankees are eterna-heels.
posted by creade at 3:06 PM on March 6, 2016 [37 favorites]


An NBA team did the same thing and is being sued.

I just bought tickets to a T-Wolves game, and was wondering why I couldn't find any on stubhub. The third party site (flash seats?) that they use for tickets is about 100% more frustrating to use than the stubhub app. maybe they don't actually want anyone to go to their games :/
posted by strange chain at 3:11 PM on March 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I came here to point out the same quote creade just did. I can't fathom a more blatant "Can you imagine having to sit in the same viscninity as a poor?" comment. I'm surprised the guy hasn't lost his job over it(an employee of the Angels did last year for making a similar statement).

Anyway, that concern all seems like a facade anyway since this seems less about being concerned about the fan experience and more about the Yankees not wanting anyone else to get a cut of their ticket sales.
posted by The Gooch at 3:34 PM on March 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


I mean it's not like StubHub is so great: they charge hefty fees on both sides of the transaction, have no transparency as to what their fees even are, and go out of their way to hide the fees when you want to buy tickets. But hey, it's a marketplace, and customers should be able to shop around and pick the marketplace they prefer. The idea that ticket sellers are entitled to control the secondary market is outrageous.
posted by zachlipton at 3:48 PM on March 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Sounds like they want Stubhub gone.

Sounds great!

The Yankees would prefer people use their own "Yankees Ticket Exchange"

Oh, I see.

What I hate about these fuckers is that, for any even moderately popular event, some ridiculous percentage of the tickets will be gone -- more or less reserved for the resellers -- before a single genuine purchaser can so much as click a submit button on the purchase website. And so, when they inevitably sell out of the 25-50% of genuine tickets, anybody who else who wants to attend has to pay a ridiculous markup from a third party.

I'm not a sports fan, but if I were I couldn't see myself ever navigating this river of bullshit to see a game in person. I can barely stomach this nonsense for seeing concerts, as it is, and those aren't generally simulcast on television.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:44 PM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Increase the costs of all the other seating and even if you don't fill, you've made enough from those corporations. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

That strategy leaves money on the table. What you want to do is segment your pricing into tiers so that you are moving all your inventory at the highest possible price: luxe tix for buyers who can afford it, near luxe for the petite bourgeoisie, all the way down to bleacher seats in the corners.

This move just looks like the Yankees are trying to grab the secondary market for themselves.
posted by notyou at 4:49 PM on March 6, 2016


What I hate about these fuckers is that, for any even moderately popular event, some ridiculous percentage of the tickets will be gone -- more or less reserved for the resellers -- before a single genuine purchaser can so much as click a submit button on the purchase website. And so, when they inevitably sell out of the 25-50% of genuine tickets, anybody who else who wants to attend has to pay a ridiculous markup from a third party.

Which nicely profits the team when they get a cut of every ticket sold on the "Yankees Ticket Exchange." They get the face value of the ticket when they sell it to the reseller, and then a percentage of the higher price when the ticket is sold again. Genius, huh?
posted by zachlipton at 4:50 PM on March 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Like everything else in NYC these days, the intended customers are those rich enough as to not care about the price. If you can't drop $500 on a day at the ball park, you're not the fan (tenant, citizen) they're looking for.
posted by ccaajj aka chrispy at 5:55 PM on March 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


This move just looks like the Yankees are trying to grab the secondary market for themselves.

Totally. But they are equally concerned about protecting their gate rates. The team's not real good right now, so demand is down and reseller prices are consequently below face value, prompting the execrable remarks about improper classes of person sitting in the nice seats (presumably lower bowl inside first and third).

Yankees (and BoSox) games are generally treated as premium-price games on the road as well due to the franchises' national reach. Here in Seattle, the Blue Jays joined that category last year for the first time, but probably not the last.

However, since the Yankees have been bad lately, the combination of higher gate prices and diminished interest resulted in a bonanza of dumped tix on StubHub last season. I got day-of-game lower-bowl third-base side tickets closer to home than third and in the lower flat, maybe a third up from the dugout, for the Tanaka start.

The tickets, which had a gate value of about $90 before fees (if I recall correctly) cost me $5.

This price collapse is the thing the Yankees are most concerned with preventing. Just imagine His Orangeness discovering that Orange Person Suite tickets, that he paid $1k for, are getting resold on SH for $100. That's who the Yankees are anxious to keep as an annual whale. Although you would think with his signature color he might be more of a Mets fan.
posted by mwhybark at 5:58 PM on March 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Wow, I have no interest in baseball but now I want to plunk my middle class ass down on their upper class seats.
posted by Monochrome at 6:02 PM on March 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


One of my coworkers was telling me about how in 70's when he was in college you could bring you own food and beer into Braves games. So him and his buddies would get a bucket of fried chicken and a gallon jug of bèer and get dollar seats in Fulton County Stadium. That is what I want my sports to be like.
posted by dudemanlives at 8:18 PM on March 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


Bah. They shouldn't sell tickets are all. They should be licencing non transferrable viewarship experiences which revert back to them if the leasee cannot exercise his.
posted by asra at 8:21 PM on March 6, 2016


Surely this will lead sports fans to realize they are being rooked! haha...no?

I want to plunk my middle class ass down on their upper class seats.

Yeah I wouldn't mind sneaking in and rubbing my plebian butt all over the high-dollar seats, though that's probably not worth getting arrested for.
posted by emjaybee at 8:21 PM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is evil, but personal seat licenses are more evil. Millions of people are getting roped into making extremely shady "investments" that are a significant fraction of their net worth and will likely crash in value, just to watch a game.
posted by miyabo at 9:20 PM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Stubhub-dwelling scalpers are using click farmers to mass-purchase seats to basically every show in Boston. I noticed that tickets are selling out at the original seller's web site within 45 seconds, and immediately blocks of from 2 - 8 tickets will appear on StubHub for the same show. It's mass scalping, which is illegal here, but the Mass AG can't be bothered to take an interest and apparently no one ever complains. *I* complained but all I got back was a "we don't really care" style letter.

If StubHub goes broke I won't shed any tears. I'd be fine with capping the price of tickets on the resale market by law - I'm certainly not paying $100 per ticket to see At The Drive In. I bought 2 tickets to the NYC show instead of paying StubHub, and even with transport and hotel it's basically a wash.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:48 PM on March 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


They should be licencing non transferrable viewarship experiences which revert back to them if the leasee cannot exercise his.

That's what a ticket is, as it happens. (Although it's a license, not a lease)
posted by jpe at 4:01 AM on March 7, 2016


1adam12: "I'd be fine with capping the price of tickets on the resale market by law"

20% over face value all in (IE: including taxes, fees, membership, surcharge, etc.).
posted by Mitheral at 4:15 AM on March 7, 2016


Next up - demanding Congress take action to protect their obsolete business model.
posted by kcds at 4:44 AM on March 7, 2016


can anyone familiar with the the economics of public events inform me why it's not to the Yankees benefit to fill the seats at ever game at whatever the market will bear? Wouldn't they bring in more revenue from concession sales over an empty seat?
posted by any major dude at 5:39 AM on March 7, 2016


1Adam12, if the StubHub people are profiting, than all this shows is that the venues and artists are stupidly underpricing their tickets. Nature abhors a vacuum. (Artists who want to make ideological point about low ticket prices are certainly entitled to, and can sell them with names attached and require ID at the door.)
posted by MattD at 5:55 AM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Any major dude -- the Yankees business model depends upon people being willing to $500+ per seat for good seats and $100+ for mediocre seats. The people who buy those seats are rich but in no way stupid -- if the secondary market routinely made those seats available at 50% to 75% off, they'd eventually stop be willing to buy them at (sky-high) face value.

You can see this yield management / demand segregation strategy at play elegantly in airline tickets.

Almost no one is willing to pay rack-rate for domestic first class (other than transcon flights from NY). So the airlines give out free or very cheap upgrades to their elite frequent fliers and if the elite frequent fliers have been taken care of they start offering the upgrades cheap to regular fliers at check in. It is rare to see an empty first class seat on a domestic flight.

But for NY transcon flights and international flights, many people ARE willing to pay for business class. Therefore the airlines make it very hard and expensive even for elite fliers to upgrade from economy to business class, and planes will routinely push back from the gate with a half-empty business class section while ever seat in economy is full AND there are people who had been hoping to fly standby economy left at the gate waiting for the next flight.
posted by MattD at 6:03 AM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a big Timberwolves fan, and as a few commentors pointed out, the Timberwolves are currently being sued for exclusively using "FlashSeats" which is a proprietary paperless ticket system. I used to go to games once in awhile and buy tickets from the scalpers outside the stadium. Haven't been to a single game this year because there are no more scalpers (you can usually wrangle a discount on decent seats if you buy your tickets after tip-off).

Anyone want to guess what NBA team in the league is dead-last in attendance, despite having last year's Rookie of the Year (and this year's as well, most likely)? Obviously teams like the Yankees are not going to have a problem drawing fans, but teams like the Timberwolves should be desperately hustling fans through the door rather than turning them away.
posted by antonymous at 6:15 AM on March 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


MattD, that presumes there's a reason to value the "free market" in the abstract over the cultural value of mass access to the arts. If the artist and venue are content with a certain amount of profit then I think the state's interest should be in preserving access, not in allowing vultures who contribute absolutely no value to the transaction to profit by finding some notional "market value."
posted by 1adam12 at 7:36 AM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to be a die-hard Yankee fan. Hell, my only post on the blue is about Bob Sheppard, their legendary announcer.

I can't fully describe how I feel about the Yanks anymore. Sad, mostly. Sad that they're willing to publicly alienate any fans that don't promulgate the team as 'high-class' or 'elite' (see creade's quote from Lonn Trost above). Sad that I can't repeat my favorite late-'90s game-day activity of toting in cold fried chicken in a cooler and chowing down during warm-ups. Sad that the team has grown to represent greed and the idea that cold, hard cash equals wins.

I'll still go to a game (when I can afford it, and usually through StubHub), mostly because I love the feel of a big stadium and I do love live baseball, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll feel like calling myself a 'Yankee fan' at all. The words feel tarnished.
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:20 AM on March 7, 2016


Come to Baltimore! Yankees games are cheap cheap cheap!!! And you can bring in your own food.
posted by josher71 at 10:43 AM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


They are 20-43. They won 16 games last year. They haven't been to the playoffs since 2003-04. The product, though hopeful, is still god-awful to watch and you couldn't pry a dollar from my wallet to watch any team coached by Sam Mitchell and featuring Tayshaun Prince 20 minutes a night.

Isolating ticket resale as a reason they're dead last is like focusing on heart disease when a gunshot victim comes into the emergency department - sure, it's a factor, but it's not the factor as to why nobody goes to those games.


This is all true, but when I went to buy tickets and was confronted by this flash seats thing (aka yet another account that wants to manage a digital wallet for me), I closed my browser window in disgust. I finally relented and came back to it when I realized that this is probably the only chance I'll get to watch Wiggins/Towns/Lavine/Rubio in person for less than $40. At least I hope it pans out that way and the wolves return to a situation where they're hunting for a playoff spot.

It seems like this move to control the secondary ticket market was timed rather poorly on their part. Then again, given their management track record (KHAAAAAAAN!!!), maybe that's not surprising.
posted by strange chain at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2016


Speaking of Trump and the Yankees.
posted by mwhybark at 6:39 PM on March 8, 2016




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