I've always heard from fans who want to know what happens to their playoff ticket money when the team doesn't make the playoffs. The most common result is that the team convinces you to roll it over into your 2013 account. But the team does have to refund your money if you want it.
Fans who don't get their cash promptly get upset, and people have called or written to me in the past asking me to "investigate." At least a couple of people have speculated that it's a nice revenue stream for the team because they quickly put your money in the bank.
Let's dismiss that one right away. The truth is, you can't really do much with throwing money in a bank for a month. Sure, teams can have a lot of money tied up in playoff tickets, but the interest rates are just so low, it wouldn't be worth the exercise.
Major League Baseball told us there is no rule that says a team can't try to put the money in the bank and invest it. There's also no rule that says it has to refund the money within a certain period of time.
Teams aren't shy about hoping they don't have to return your money, and that they instead get a head start on using it for the following season. That's one of the reasons why the Los Angeles Angels moved up the date for season-ticket payments for the following season. They previously were due by Feburary, but instead were scheduled to conclude today, the first day of the playoffs, whether they were in it or not.
Robert Alvarado, the team's vice president of marketing and ticket sales, said that moving the deadlines up allows the team to better plan their marketing for the next season. He readily admits, though, if the team misses the playoffs by a wide margin after playoff money is taken, more people are going to be skeptical about keeping their money in the Angels' bank account.
In the Angels' case, they say they'll definitely return the money by a month after the World Series.
So why does it take so long?
Alvarado said that's done to protect the team should it make the playoffs, but not multiple rounds in. They'd still have to pay off the people who paid in full.
Pittsburgh Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said most season-ticket holders chose to roll over their playoff money to go toward 2013 tickets, a positive for a team that slumped badly after a promising start, and missed having its first winning season in 20 years. But for those who want their money back, the Pirates aren't living up to their namesake.
"If the postseason payment was made via credit card, we are issuing the refund immediately to that card," Warecki said. "For those that have paid via check, we are currently processing those requests and issuing refund checks via mail."
Los Angeles Dodgers spokesperson Yvonne Carrasco said that the team would issue refunds in four to six weeks, but the ticket office is now promising that fans who want their money back will get it in three weeks. The Chicago White Sox also confirmed that they have begun the process of returning the money to anyone who requested it after the team missed the playoffs.