Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SweetSpot [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Yankees not happy with Mets' ticket prices

By Darren Rovell

Last week, a New York Yankees player was looking at a website called CompTix, the password protected site that all major league players order their complimentary tickets from, when he saw the price: $245.

That was the going rate for a ticket in the friends and family section at Citi Field for the upcoming series against the Mets.

While the players get up to six free tickets for each game -- four for family and two for friends -- they have to pay taxes on the tickets. So seeing a $245 face value, which one source told ESPN.com was the highest they've ever seen at any ballpark, matters.

Even a player who makes the league minimum is in the highest tax bracket, meaning the players are taxed at at least 40 percent of the value of the tickets, according to Robert Raiola, senior tax manager at FMRTL in Cranford, N.J., who advises athletes on their tax planning.

As the New York Post first reported, due to the Mets' variable and dynamic pricing, the same $245 seats for the Yankees cost $80 for a series against the Braves.

That means that a Braves player who took all six tickets would pay at least $192 in taxes, while a Yankees player who used same seats would pay at least $588 in taxes.

A Mets spokesman said that the ticket price quoted was simply the ticket price that fans in that section would pay for that seat at that given time. The Yankees don't have variable or dynamic pricing so the ticket prices don't fluctuate.

Sources say the Yankees were confused by two things. Why did the tickets rise so much in value if the demand wasn't there? Games on Monday and Tuesday weren't sold out and had the lowest attendance of any matchup between the two teams in their history. The Yankees then asked why the Mets couldn't assign a lower value to players' tickets since the team wasn't making money off the comped tickets anyway. The Mets refused, and for what it's worth, charged their players the same amount.

While Greg Bouris, spokesman for the MLB Players Association, said the union is "aware of the situation," a source said it doesn't look like the Mets committed any violation and therefore wouldn't expect any action.

It is up to the individual teams to assign whatever value they want to the tickets the players get, but as variable and dynamic pricing becomes more common, situations like this could become a bigger issue.

Darren Rovell is a sports business reporter for ESPN.