It’s Netflix but for A’s baseball

The A’s announced that they, along with a few other MLB franchises, are rolling out an inexpensive monthly ballpark pass, which allows for admission into all home games from June through September. The price of the pass is $19.99 per month, and like most subscriptions, will auto-renew every month.

Ticketing will be done through the mobile At The Ballpark app. Once you buy a month, you’ll have admission to all games that month. The admission is for guaranteed standing room, plus you’ll receive seat location(s) by text if they’re available. Realistically that should be for nearly every game since the A’s are averaging just north of 16k per game in a 41k capacity stadium. Like most subscriptions, you’ll be able to cancel it during the season (see terms for more details). The value is undeniable. June has 15 games by itself, which works out to $1.33 per game. And that’s for the Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays, Reds, Dodgers, and Nationals, plus a Braves game. The downsides are that the pass is not transferable, and if you need to get a group to sit together you’ll need to buy several together.

Truth be told, the A’s have run similar Spring Training passes the past two years and two summers ago at the Coliseum ($79 for select months), so they have some experience with this type of ticketing. 2017’s edition offered 17 games at Hohokam for $40. By comparison the current deal is a serious loss leader, a way to get new casual fans in the door to sample the new experience at the Coliseum. A family of four could camp out the Coli for $320 (plus taxes), less than the cost of a single full-season bleacher ticket. That’s simply astonishing.

Variance in prices among other ballparks leads me to believe that an industry standard price has not been set yet. That’s fine for now. Fans get to benefit from the extended beta (pricing per ticket per month):

  • STL $30
  • HOU $59 (weekdays only)
  • CIN $30
  • MIN $99 (April/May)
  • DET $49
  • MIL $39
  • LAA $49
  • OAK $19

I expect that the actual number of available passes will be limited as they were for the spring, though the huge available inventory should make such restrictions unnecessary. The upper deck’s open. Let the kids in.

If the popularity of ticket subscriptions takes off, I wonder if they could affect how new ballparks (like the A’s future park) are designed. Would they build in more standing areas instead of back rows of seats? More bars and drink rails? Outfield berms instead of bleachers? A change to the outside food policy? And what does this mean for season ticket holders of the cheap seats, who were just undercut big time?

Other teams launched pass programs to fill in empty seats. The A’s are trying to fill whole sections and levels. If there’s a place where a pass could make a visible difference, it’s Oakland. Practically no cover and no two-drink minimum. Bring in the college and high school students, the hipsters, the families, the cheap dates. The A’s love you, and maybe you’ll love them back.

6 thoughts on “It’s Netflix but for A’s baseball

  1. I bought two May ballpark passes last year for $59 each, and it was terrific. Our assigned seat was never worse than plaza outfield on a giveaway day. For the Yankee games we upgraded to front row for $19 each. I can’t remember how many games it covered, but we went to seven, which was plenty for us. It was an absolute blast.

    If I was still up there, I would buy four of these myself.

  2. I am buying 5!!! My wife and I will have date night in the Tavern. The Tavern is super cool, mainly because of the menu, it’s not much different than when ti was the West Side Club otherwise.

  3. Maybe good for some fans yet definitely an alarm bell for baseball – giving away tix just to get butts in the seats- worst part is I doubt it will have any measurable impact on attendance- given the number of teams trying it baseball will be in dire financial straights in cable tv contracts begin to implode as some predict.

  4. The benefits of having season tickets are still there in that you get a special entrance, deals, and postseason rights.

    ML: I remember your post “The future; its dynamic like 10 years ago”(?) when the Giants pioneered Dynamic Pricing. The A’s followed the next season for select games. Now I have to wonder if any teams still have set values? I like that development a lot.

    Could this be the next move that dramatically changes how teams sell tickets?

      • BryceH – This isn’t an original idea. The Padres did Park at the Park, a $5 ticket that offers a space on the lawn or a SRO spot in the ballpark. Wolff was inspired by that in 2005 and thought it could be integrated into his first plans in Oakland and Fremont. I still think it will be in the future ballpark, especially if there’s some ancillary development with the ballpark. The tech in the At the Ballpark app and stadium infrastructure (wifi, beacons) makes the digital pass possible. I feel that in the future parks will actually have fewer seats and more “hangout” spots with views of the game.

        In 2014 Populous published their vision for a future park. I don’t like how it all comes together, but most of the elements feel right.

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