Walk-up observations

I didn’t get season tickets this year. I waffled about the decision all the way through April. In the end I chose not to get a package this year, forgoing the savings a package can provide. I’ve been fortunate to have a few friends who provided freebies on occasion. Most of the time, I’ve simply walked up to get tickets.

Years ago, before the advent of the internet and the mobile power that comes with smartphones, the A’s had freestanding booths for day-of-game tickets. The booths were located outside all of the main gates. Agents manning the booths were furnished with stacks of preprinted tickets, with different quantities for certain sections or price levels. The booths went away around the time the Wolff/Fisher group took control of the team.

For years, fans choosing to get day-of-game tickets just before the game had no choice but to buy from the permanent booths on the BART plaza and near gates C and D. This year, the booths have been supplemented with electronic kiosks, which, like the booths, charged no fees on any tickets sold (including advance tickets). This has helped alleviate some of the frequently long lines, along with providing multiple places to pick up will-call tickets.

Tonight I noticed something odd about the system. Every Red Sox game is a “premium” game, with slightly higher ticket prices compared to games against most other teams. The A’s charge higher prices knowing that demand is expected to be greater, though I’ve noticed that demand for Red Sox games has gone down precipitously in the last few years (Monday night’s attendance: 17,434). I kept track of what tickets online seller tickets.com had available through the website. By the early afternoon, I noticed that no Value Deck seats were available. There’s nothing special about the demand for Value Deck seats except when a group buys a large block of them (only 1,000 are available per game). I figured that because of the missing Value Deck tickets, demand was reasonably high. Running counter to that assertion was the fact that the team was also selling “Dynamic Deal” tickets, at $22 for Plaza Level and $10 for Plaza Outfield.

The crowd during the bottom of the 2nd.

I got one of the $10 seats, got some food, and sat in my seat at 7 on the dot. The bleachers were about half-full. So were many other sections. I thought that perhaps there might be a late-arriving crowd, but I was wrong. Based on the way the sections were filled, the place looked half full. 17,434 paid attendance seems to confirm that, though there were probably 2-3,000 no-shows as well. I looked up at the Value Deck repeatedly and noticed that those sections were also at best half full. Yet the advance tickets were sold out. So what gives?

I can’t come up with an explanation for what happened, and as a single data point it would be foolish to draw any specific conclusions from it. The A’s don’t have anything to gain from manipulating the availability of any ticket type, simply because the demand is so elastic that the gains would be worth peanuts. The observation has certainly made me want to pay more attention in the future to inventory and availability compared to the in-house optics. Next opportunity is Wednesday’s series-ender against the Sawx.

27 thoughts on “Walk-up observations

  1. are the bosox huge draws still? i was a season ticket hold back in the early 2000s and even then there were a few games i went to that had only 17-20 thousand, similar to the crowd monday night and that was pre tarp and when the a’s were actually a playoff caliber team.

    also looks as that pic you took was just right before moss hit the 3 run hr?

  2. I hate those electronic kiosks. On the surface they seem like a nice idea, but like the website, it tries to force a section, row, & seat without the ability to make specific selections about where you actually want to sit. There’s really no logic behind doing that. They know what’s available, let us just select exactly where we want to sit from what’s currently available.

  3. As far as the value deck not being full but being sold out but only being half full; I think it could partially be attributed to scalpers buying a bunch and trying to sell them (unsuccessfully).

  4. @letsgoas – Yes, it was right before the HR.

    @dmoas – As much as people hate Ticketmaster, at least they’ve figured out how to implement “pick-a-seat” in their software. Tickets.com is seriously lagging there.

    @dKim – I’ve only seen scalpers with field level or maybe plaza level/club seats (also not many data points there). Wouldn’t Value Deck would normally be a tough sell?

  5. Don’t give ticketmaster too much credit. Pick a seat is still lacking in many of their venues.
    As for the value deck thing, scalpers for a Sox game would have been my first guess as well. My second guess would be tickets held back specifically for groups that the A’s were planning on/hoping to host in those sections that obviously didn’t pan out. Still for a Monday night that crowd doesn’t seem all that bad for the Coliseum.

  6. Did you get a chance to check StubHub’s supply for last night? I’ve seen large blocks of tickets for the value deck available though I check last nights. There doesn’t appear to be too much available on SH for tonight. I think part of the reasoning could be the “buy and resell” people expected there to be a stronger demand. However, as @pkdryan said on Twitter, perhaps the Boston bandwagoneers became Giants fans?
    Could there have been a lot of people who bought cheap Value Deck tickets and just scooted down?
    The other thing is that the way season ticket exchanges are supposed to work, you can (supposedly) only exchange premium games for premium games. This means that at the beginning of the year, I’ll select all three games in a series for my 22-game package so that I can exchange two of those games for tickets to the other game and bring a larger group. That probably also creates a fake demand, at least until the tickets can be reinserted into the pool.
    Perhaps also the people chose to do the Fireworks/No Work the Next Day option tonight? We’ll have to see.

  7. in reply to dmoas

    I took BART to the Padre game a few Saturdays ago and was excited to see these machines as I walked off the overpass. I had used one of these in Colorado a few years back and thought it was a great idea. But as you said, I soon learned that unlike the ones in Denver these gave you no option for individual seats or rows… how dumb is that! Even the A’s web sight comes up short in this area. If you buy tickets for a Rivercat game online you see all available seats and select the exact seats you wish to purchase. It’s really weird that a team’s minor league club has a better ticket model than the parent club.

  8. The A’s played an exciting game last night, first to ninth. The Red Sox looked slightly stunned. The radio and tv crowd-sound pickups weren’t great, but I sure didn’t hear any “Let’s Go Red Sox” chants drowning out the A’s fans (as I did hear some years back at a RSox game at the Coliseum). The character of the A’s team seems to be drawing more real A’s fans than anyone expected.
    On a somewhat related note, this is from Gwen Knapp’s piece in the Chron/sfgate today:
    “Commissioner Bud Selig said the surge of [All Star] votes for the Giants didn’t trouble him.

    “‘They are sold out there every day and every night,’ he said in a conference call, supporting the belief that a homestand with a Dodgers series in the final week of balloting had helped the Giants’ organization get out the vote.”
    Whenever we evaluate the territorial power struggle between the A’s and Giants, I think we need to remember that the Commissioner, and the other owners, cast a cold eye on finances. The Giants are making everybody money. Wolff and Fisher need to bolster that particular best interest of baseball owners to get what they want in return.
    If that “somewhat related note” is way off, sorry. But I did want to mention Knapp’s article.

  9. As MarineLayer said, the limitation is not an A’s thing, it’s a Tickets.com thing.

  10. in reply to Chi

    I’ve wondered about the Pleasanton area myself. Available land, warm weather, disposable income, BART access and it’s still Alameda County. Plus I’d think they would draw more from the Valley without really killing off their East & South Bay following.

  11. @xootsuit – Extremely OT, and a poor argument relating All Star votes to league finances. Conversely to your argument, the A’s are a drag on the rest of baseball. That’s plenty of reason by itself.

  12. Way off topic but the Tri Valley isn’t really an option. The most I have heard folks around here talking about is a potential play to get the San Jose Giants to move to PLeasanton in the event the A’s move to San Jose.
    There are a lot of issues that would seem to preclude the Tri Valley from host a Major League team (specifically a baseball team). One of them is that there are only 300k people in in total. Taking into account the “21 mile halo” for advanced ticket sales, that sort of population density won’t cut it.

  13. I watched a lot of the game on tv, even though it was a small crowd, it was an awesome game 🙂

  14. “‘They are sold out there every day and every night,’ he said . . .”
    That’s the point. That’s a fact crucial to any understanding of the owners’ approach to the A’s/Giants problem. The AS voting debacle is an irrelevant joke. It just happened to prompt one of those odd Commissioner admissions worth considering. Blind spots are dangerous

  15. The prices to be gotten on the second hand market for Blosux tickets at Fenway are way off from even ’09 when I went there. It’s natural that interest has softened here as well.

  16. Brian, you’re not kidding. My cousin just visited and said she got $10 tickets behind the plate in the upper grandstand at Fenway. The shine in really off them this year.

  17. Hell, we all knew that would happen. Do you remember hoards of obnoxious assholes from Boston making attending games an almost completely miserable experience before they finally won a WS? No, and neither do I. They were just another harmless and small fanbase like those for most other teams that come to town. But once they won something, all of a sudden all these “lifelong, die-hard fans” came out of nowhere in their brand new hats and short memories, not to mention their newfound entitled attitudes. Not surprising at all that missing the post season for a couple of years would drive them back into oblivion. Perhaps Yankees fans can reclaim their rightful place as the worst fans to be around in all of baseball.

  18. @Lonestranger on the StubHub comment…

    My experience seems to point to the ticket selling process being as follows (pretty much as you outline):

    Up to a certain number of days you can buy specially priced seats (Value, Family Packs, etc). Then at ~4-5 days before a game date, the remainder of the tickets vanish, and appear on StubHub for a non-discount (or raised) price.

    Maybe I’m just saying the obvious here (or I’m completely wrong), but I thought that was a basic component of StubHub’s model. The A’s get the guaranteed (lower) revenue by selling these tickets to StubHub for cents on the dollar, and StubHub turns a profit by raising the price and selling just enough to recoup their purchase.

  19. @Dude were you talking about the Giants or the Red Sox? 😉

  20. The asking about seeing stubhub. I logged on a couple hours before the game, there were on 2 tickets at all for last nights game at 59 a piece? With like 4,000 for the next day???

    A couple years ago I noticed for the warriors on night when they were a few thousand under sellout. Upper bowl was half empty. That if you tried to buy the $10 tickets online or from ticket booth themselves they would say they were sold out in that section. Then during the game you would see like only 10 people in those 3 sections. It was like they would only release them after all the more expensive sections sold out.

  21. @A’sFan – LOL, +1

  22. i was shocked at last nights low attendance but i know that tonight and tomorrow will be much higher. i think A’s will be averaging around 21,000 per game at the all star break

  23. Actually the A’s are only averaging 19,636 coming up to the break. Games in Tokyo don’t count. Still puts them ahead of Cleveland however so there’s that.

  24. ….something that will be better than Fenway

    You ever been to a game in Boston? EVERY ballpark in MLB is better than Fenway. Just about everything about Fenway sucks.

  25. @Chi- Actually, the park stayed pretty packed until the fireworks were over. I had a great vantage point from the last row in the Value Deck.

  26. hencanfoos. Can’t agree with you there. Fenway since the renovations is just as good as all its emulators built since 1992.

  27. Fenway was fun the one time I went there but I wouldn’t want to do it on a regular basis (impossible-at-the-time and expensive tickets, risk of obstructed views, know-it-all fans all around, drunken twenty-somethings throughout, etc.)

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