season tickets

Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

  Most of you know that I am a Mets fan.  In fact, I’m that person that when something Mets-related happens, people tell me later, “You know, I thought of you when such-and-such happened.”

What most of you might not know is that I am a season ticket holder.  I have been since mid-season 2006.  I was going to so many games, that it made sense for me to invest in it then, since it was evident they were making the playoffs.

I held onto them in 2007 and in 2008, the big carrot dangle was guaranteed seats in CitiField, which opened in 2009.

None of this is probably “news” to you.  But in 2009, I invested in Promenade seats.  I wasn’t given much of a choice because it was either there or $9000/seat in the Excelsior level.  Yeah, no thanks!!

When the Mets didn’t perform and fell off a cliff that year, the Mets’ form of an apology was to lower ticket prices, and I actually was able to invest in field level seats (outfield level, but still, I could market them as field level and have a pretty decent resale value).

Each year since 2009, the Mets ticket sales folks have worked to lower ticket prices, but also make the experience more enjoyable for the fan overall by instituting some things as “Amazin Mets Perks,” which got me to take the field with a player (perhaps you’ve heard me talk about my ass being on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page) and I also got to take the field during batting practice.

My ass might be on Scott Hairston’s Wikipedia page, but I got on the field because of my status as a season ticket holder. Photo credit by Sharon Chapman.

This year, I got a customized Niese jersey for being a plan holder.

This year, 2012, was also the lowest price I’ve paid for Mets season tickets since CitiField opened, but also since my Shea days when I had seats on the Mezzanine level.

As the saying goes, it’s no secret the ticketing department has been selling ice to Eskimos where Mets tickets are concerned.

Yet this year was interesting.  The Mets got off to a rollicking start, and it was announced that the All-Star Game would be held at CitiField in 2013, possibly the worst-kept secret in, well, the universe really.

So I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise that I got a notification from the sales department and my ticket rep, whom I have a very good relationship with, that in order to secure your seat with the All-Star Game, you would require a $250 deposit per seat per account.  The kicker, though, being “the deposit goes towards your 2013 seats” and “2012 Mets Full Season Ticket Holders who commit to 2013 Full Season Tickets by taking advantage of this offer by July 10, 2012 will lock in 2012 season ticket pricing for the 2013 season.

Uh, hello, that’s not only a “no-brainer…” Hell it was a YES brainer!  Of course, I want to hold onto my season tickets for not only personal reasons but also to cash in on the All-Star Game festivities.  But locking in my price now for 2013?  Man, that’s just icing on the mother f’ing cake.

I paid the $500 (since I have two seats) deposit by the deadline and figured I’d be good to go.

Now over the years, the Mets’ ticketing department has come under fire for a few reasons, one of which is their invoice due date each year being around Christmas time.  If I remember correctly prior to the 2008 season, invoices were due around January 15.  Don’t quote me on that, but I’m pretty sure of it.  Yet, after the flailing at the end of 2008 and the opening of CitiField, they leaned on the ticket plan holders for early payment.  Some people complained that it was “too close” to the holidays.  For me, though, I guess it didn’t bother me as much personally.  I kinda figured, you know, that people are usually monetarily wounded around the holidays, what’s the difference a month makes?  (Of course they required back then to pay in full, now there are payment options).

I think another thing is the timing.  The Mets just came off two years of narrowly missing the playoffs.  How DARE they ask us for money when we’re still in mourning?

Since 2009 though things have marginally gotten better, with the institution of the perks program, and making the season ticket and partial plan holders a part of the family.  As well they should.  That was probably my biggest complaint at the time, was that season ticket holders were taken for granted.  I would say a big change in the philosophy of the department happened when Leigh Castergine took over for longtime Mets fixture Bill Iannicello.

But now, I’m seeing some shades of previous Met establishments, and I’m not liking it.

Go back to what I said about locking in prices for 2013 seats by putting a deposit down on your account.  There were two things there: the All-Star game and 2013 tickets.  I get that you should have a plan to be able to reap the rewards for the game, and I have no problem with that.  But last week, plan holders were sent an email about putting yet ANOTHER deposit down by AUGUST 31st  (meaning: like 17 days from now).  A minimum 20%, and as my ticket rep explained, the next payment wouldn’t kick in till October.

Either the first email was in error about locking in prices by opting for the deposit in July, OR they’re just conveniently forgetting they told some fans this.  I mean, I can’t be the only season ticket who was verbally told this, emailed this AND given this new email that’s all passive-aggressive.  “Deadline?  Oh, this deadline?  Of course, that’s new.” (Oh, and before I forget to mention, we were encouraged to put a deposit down, even in the event that ticket prices were lowered in 2013 we would get that new price.  But promised it wouldn’t go higher).

Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit.  But the pricing is very essential for 2013 for me.  For one, each year since I’ve been at CitiField has resulted in me having a lower ticket price AND (something they didn’t do before) is give season ticket holders a discount over the regular cost of a seat to compensate for those days we have to eat tickets or sell below face.  Now, while I was pleased with that revelation, I shouldn’t applaud the Mets for simply doing what other sports and teams have done since the flood.  They needed to do what they could to keep us happy.  I get that.

Don’t tell your most loyal fans that by putting a deposit on your seats in July for games that won’t happen for at least another nine months will guarantee a price lock, then say, “Oh that whole thing, we’re forfeiting that and you have to give us another deposit in less than a month.”

Pardon me if I tell you to kiss my pucker.  I’m pretty upset about this.

In years past, I will acknowledge that the Mets have done the right thing by treating their season ticket holders better, giving them more perks and making us more appreciated.  Each year, the Mets have fallen far from expectation, and each year as a courtesy our ticket prices have been lowered.  In the meantime, would it KILL them to keep ticket prices steady for a year?  Let’s be fair: we know this money isn’t going to be used to improve the team any time soon.

And what’s worse is this whole not-so-much-of-a-warning that your prices may go up if you don’t give into their extortion deposit demands.

Your loyal customers.

Your loyal fans.

For what?  Because we’re riding high on euphoria for having the first no-hitter in Mets history?  Because R.A. Dickey may win the Cy Young this year?  Because you really prepared yourself with a backup catcher this year? Oh wait, that didn’t happen.  Mostly, it’s due to the All-Star Game in 2013.  Fine.  I didn’t mind giving that deposit.  But what I do mind is that I was told one thing, now I’m being told something IN ADDITION to that.

Hell, if I had known I would have to lock in my 2013 prices with or without the stupid $250 deposit, I might have been more okay with it.

I know these are total First World Problems, and most of you could give a shit about my status as a season ticket holder.  But this isn’t just me we’re talking about.  We’re talking about loyal fans who were probably told one thing, and thought one thing, only to have something blindside them.

Over the years, the Mets have ridden goodwill into the ground with their loyal fan base.  In the 1980s, it was due to the 1986 championship.  When the Mets were shitty, they did everything in their power to bring us back with different promotions.  When the team did well in the late 1990s, the Mets rode for years that goodwill in the form of ticket prices.  Only to see the team falter again.  But oh look! The year 2006 came along, and once again, ticket plan holders were taken for granted by locking us in again.

The last four years have been a real test, I have to believe.  The owners, despite what we may or may not know intimately about the financial situation, clearly are not in a position to freely spend.  I’m actually okay with that overall, but the reality is if you see what’s going on in LA after their owners were bankrupt and driven out of baseball, they’re spending and making investments in the team.  Makes me wonder what would happen if MLB actually intervened.  Maybe then we’d have a good team.

But I digress.  In the meantime, they’ve really had to suck up to us and do everything in their power to bring us back.  I’m paying nearly 50% less than my final season at Shea Stadium now for better seats in a nicer stadium.  I can’t complain about that.

My point is, now that the Mets are doing marginally well, they’re technically allowed to ask more of us as fans.  Because they can.

What I can complain about is the blatant advantage taking by the Mets ticket people of their season ticket holders.  As I like to say when the Mets are down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th: they got us where where they want us.

What am I supposed to do here?  Not pay by the deadline, and risk my ticket prices going up?  When the original plan was that the deposit essentially said that I’m locked in?  Because I wasn’t prepared for this.  Now, I have interested partners in my ticket plan, and I’m appreciative of their offer, but that’s not the point.

I feel used.  The Mets played me.  They drew me in by treating me well and giving me nice things only to shit all over it because they can.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Luck of Dee Coop

It’s only taken me a week but I took the CitiField “behind the scenes” tour last weekend.  Unlike other stadiums, CitiField has restrictions on when they conduct them.  Like, every single day they have restrictions.  When I go to any other stadium, I can guarantee that I can get in at least twice a day, every day (unless it’s a game day).  CitiField is either feast or famine.  There are like ten on one day, then none for like three weeks.

That’s what happened to me.  In fact, this post could have easily been a “Fuck the Mets and their mothers” post, but it’s not.  In fact, my season ticket sales rep rocks and gets nothing but love in this.

A few weeks ago, I asked my sports gal partner-in-crime Metscellaneous Dee if she was interested in doing a tour.  When she said “YES” before I was even done asking the question (I probably finished with “tour of the bathroom” to be a wise ass), I figured it was a good idea.  The bonus is that when you’re a season ticket holder you get four passes complimentary.  In the past, I’ve never had a problem getting the tour I wanted.  Plus my husband was dying to see the progress on the new walls.  See, he and I have done the tour twice — once before there were restrictions on taking photos in the Mets clubhouses , then once after.  I had asked a friend if she also wanted to go, who was not as big a baseball fan as any of us (but she does root for the Mets when she does, simply because she knows I’ll kick her ass if she doesn’t), so we were set.

Till the booking people screwed up my reservation.

I looked on the website, and it looked as though the only weekend available was the second weekend in March, when we decided to go.  Fear not, I thought, because I never had a problem getting into the tours.  However, I noticed in literally a blink of an eye, none of the tours were available.  I was trying to see if I could book it online, which was my first mistake.  I should have just called.  So when I called the office, they were the blind leading the blind.  This is what happens when you let go of like 50% of your ticket staff and hire college students who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

So I call my rep, who once again comes through in the clutch (when a last minute trip was canceled last year for me, and I had sold my tickets to the weekend’s games, he gave me complimentary tickets.  Like I said – clutch), and he says that because of the demand he can only get two people in.  When I explained that I had not only tried to call but book the appointment online, he said that because of this understaffing, the tours were not updated accordingly.  So basically, I was lucky to get those two spots.

More luck I guess on my side.  Then again, I’m a Mets, Jets and Rangers fan, so there goes that philosophy.  My friend graciously bowed out but wanted to do the tour again in the future, and my husband said, “Well, hey, just bring Dee because I can go anytime.”  So it was just us girls.

That’s cool because girls have more fun.

I do have to say that of the tours I’ve done, this one by far one of the best.  Billy from Oakland, NJ, was our tour guide.  He rocked.  It didn’t feel overly rehearsed or mimed.  The tour is supposed to be an hour but this was well over that one hour mark.

Few things…

We were there Saturday, March 10th.  Typically this time of the year is chilly, especially in Flushing, but again with luck on our side, we had good weather.  The tours were obviously jam packed but my rep did mention that.  I guess because the Mets refuse to have more than TWO TOURS in the month before the season opens, that’s a problem.  I suppose the reason could be of the construction that happened, but the tour goes nowhere near it.  In fact, I was at Camden Yards in the fall for their tour, and we walked right through a construction zone.  Methinks the Mets are just cutting costs and creating a demand.

But if you ask me, one of the few things creating demand is the tour these days.

Moving right along, about those walls…there were no walls to speak of!  Señor Coop wanted to get pics of the walls, so he would have been in for a huge disappointment.  There were corners of the new blue walls.  It looked like the construction was nowhere near completion.  I did hear this week that there was a lot of headway made there  (see The 7 Line‘s photos and videos of it – none of that stuff was up when we were there).  Good, I was getting worried that Habitat for Humanity would have to come in to finish up with some donated Home Depot supplies.

   

I would post more pics, but I have to admit I’m a bit jaded.  I’ve been to CitiField so many times since it’s opened, but I’ve also done the tour.  If there was some great revelation that occurred by me going on this tour maybe.

Oh! I remember.  The Empire Suites level features a large baseball card of a prominent player of each year of the Mets.  In 2010, the player at the start of the season was Jeff Francoeur, but since he was traded late in the season, it became Mike Pelfrey (his last good year, IMO).

 

More irony: Ike Davis was the 2011 candidate.  Who barely played!  Oy.

 

So here are the obligatory photos of us on the field, and me in the dugout.  If you want to see Dee’s take on it, visit her post.

 

During the tour you see each Mets yearbook since their birth in 1962, and we were able to see the 2012 yearbook cover.  Plus any self-respecting tour ends in the Museum and gift shop.  I purchased an Ike Davis shirt (note to Mets: PLEASE STOCK NIESE SHIRTS IN 2012), and saw the 50th anniversary video — something new in the Museum and Hall of Fame this year.  Howie Rose narrates the video, as well he should, and I was smiling and verklempt at the same time.  I guess that means what I saw was pretty good.

I guess with age, the CitiField tour keeps getting better.  Though there were some things I wanted to see, I got to see a top notch tour with a good friend, and it made me itch for baseball season to start, whether the Mets are world beaters or not.

Gaming the Market

It’s funny how my status as a Mets ticket plan holder has evolved over the years.  I was in some way shape or form a mini-plan holder, then became a full season holder.  Believe it or not, depending on where you sit, being a baseball season ticket holder is not prohibitively expensive; of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder on what you want to spend your discretionary income on.  For myself and my husband, though, we enjoy going to games, good or bad, win or lose, plus we can barter or sell tickets to go on road trips.

I would be lying though, if I didn’t tell you that each year I wonder if I’ll still want to be a season ticket holder.

It started in 2007, the “whispers” of being “priced out of CitiField.”  Everyone started freaking out because the Mets couldn’t figure out how to package their mini-plans, and season ticket holders really weren’t given a fair shot at where they wanted to sit.  I’ll be the first person to tell you that.  In 2008, they raised prices at Shea Stadium, to give us an idea of what we’d be up against.  For the marketplace though, it was almost fair.  Try going to a game at that place in the Bronx, or even a basketball game at Madison Square Garden.  You’d be hard pressed to find a cheap ticket there.  I’ve always argued that when we visit smaller market teams like Pittsburgh or even Baltimore, the tickets are priced according to that market.  They are cheaper to us and more bang for the buck because of where these teams play.  Whether their teams are bad is inconsequential.  When I visit those stadiums, if I don’t have a rooting interest, I just enjoy the game.  The prices, though, may be prohibitive to those who live in those markets, however.  This is something we need to consider when griping about the Mets’ pricing structure.

Of course, in 2009 when CitiField opened, the Mets put the screws to some of their loyal ticket plan holders.  I had seats in the Mezzanine, and the comparable area would be the Excelsior level or “Logezanine” as Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing calls it.  The tickets were not realistically priced, and I had to settle for the Promenade.  At the time though, it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Remember, the Mets were supposed to be good that year, right?  Fast forward a few months later, I had trouble selling my $18 seats for 18 cents.

That intro was to lay down the foundation for how the ticket pricing is going on now.  It’s evident then that the Mets and most appropriately the Sterling Equities group (Wilpons/Katz, etc) were not gaming the market efficiently. A new stadium in the biggest media market should have been sold out at every single game, or close to it.  Some will point to the season itself; some will say it had to do with pricing overall; others will say it was economic factors.  What is evident is that the Wilpon/Katz family in their infinite wisdom thought it would be wise to introduce premium luxury seats to a blue collar fan base to settle their own monetary issues stemming from bad investments on their watch.  Quite possibly, CitiField was one of those investments.

Each year I have been at CitiField, my prices have gone down significantly.  In 2010, I even moved my seats to a lower level, as it was still cheaper than my 2008 seats at Shea Stadium.  In 2011, my seats went down even further.  I had about three games that people did not attend in my seats.  They also introduced “perks” to ticket plan holders, such as taking the field with a player (I took position with Scott Hairston back in April!), subscriber events (such as breakfast at CitiField, raffles, winter team events), and ticket vouchers for additional tickets to a game, in premium seats.

Photo credit to Sharon Chapman

Photo Credit to Me!

The Mets just released their ticket pricing structure for 2012.  Season ticket holders once again get savings, I am saving nearly 20% if I decide to renew for 2012 (which I probably will).  They are issuing “dynamic pricing,” which means you get a structured level of pricing for what game you go to.  This is nothing new, they’ve been doing this for years.  You pay a higher dollar price for Mets/Yankees, Mets/Phillies, but you save going to see Mets/Nationals, etc.

The kicker?  We need to renew by November 7 in order to indulge in the Season Ticket Perks, which was introduced last year.  In previous years, we’ve been able to pay by December 15, and even have had payment plans introduced to us.  The whole saving-money-thing doesn’t bother me: this the whole commitment-thing-before-hot-stove thing does.

At a season ticket holder function the last Sunday of the season, another fellow season ticket holder and I started chatting about the park.  “Nice stadium,” he said.  “Shoulda been sold out every game in 2009.”  I agreed; it shouldn’t have been so hard to sell tickets.  It still shouldn’t.  There are several factors at play.  The injuries are one thing.  The AAA supporting cast is another.  The lack of a plan or foresight in both 2009 and 2010 adds on to the uncertainty.

The team neglected to game the market.  The Wilpons thought wrong in making the stadium for them, by making it smaller and raising ticket prices in a down economy and after two late season failings (though in fairness, there is no way they could have seen the last two things).  They brought in new ticket people (including parting ways with Bill Iannicello, who had been with the team for as many years as I could remember), but it was a year too late.  Even all the perks they are trying to woo season ticket holders with may not be enough.  I remember the days when they didn’t offer us jack, just the good name of the Mets and the tickets.  They figured a nice new park would be shiny enough to make us forget we were watching a crappy team after a while.

But will any of this make us want to go to games?  Lowered ticket prices are nice.  Would you pay an average of $29/ticket for outfield reserve (that’s how much mine cost, if you’re looking to buy next year, ha ha)?? Other monetary factors figure in like parking and tolls, gas even (As an example, I invited Randy from Read the Apple to a game where the ticket was FREE, and he said that even though the ticket I was giving him would be free, by the time he made it to the park, it would be upwards of $40, and he’d have to do it again since he was going to another game that week).  Some people who have to travel find that the SNY broadcast along with the comforts of home like HD TVs and surround sound plus your own food make it enticing to just stay home.

Factor in a crappy team.  At least they’re trying to game the market, but like most Mets’ efforts, they will probably fall short in this plan too.