Thursday, April 23, 2009
Selig: Yankees, Mets to discuss prices
NEW YORK -- Bud Selig has noticed those empty seats at the new ballparks in New York, too. Should the Yankees and Mets lower their tickets prices? The commissioner said that's up to them.
Selig said Thursday the teams will discuss the ticket situation. The Yankees declined comment, and the Mets said they weren't thinking about making changes.
Several seats along the third base line were empty at a recent Yankees game.
Speaking to the Associated Press Sports Editors, Selig said it was not an issue for Major League Baseball to decide, and added he wouldn't make any recommendation.
"They're going to discuss it, and whatever adjustments they want to make, they should make," Selig said. "I wouldn't be presumptuous talking about what they should or shouldn't do."
The Yankees are charging $500-$2,625 for Legends Suite tickets in 25 sections at the new Yankee Stadium in the first nine rows around the infield, an area that contains 1,895 seats.
While those seats were filled for the April 16 opener, they were more than half-empty for the remaining five games on the homestand. Some entire sections were unfilled, but it's possible tickets for other seats were bought by people who didn't attend or spent much time in the three exclusive restaurants and lounges.
The Mets have fewer premium seats near home plate and far lower prices. They are charging an average of $175-$495 for 1,567 seats in the Delta Club, which includes 20 rows between the dugouts.
"Hal Steinbrenner did say a couple of weeks ago that he thought that, you know, they may have overpriced tickets and they'll look at it. Well, good for him," Selig said of the Yankees managing general partner.
"And I know the Wilpons. They're very sensitive about all this," he added of the family that owns the Mets.
Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion wouldn't discuss Selig's remarks, saying: "We're still not talking about ticket prices."
Mets spokesman David Newman said his team wouldn't revisit what it is charging.
"Ticket prices start at $11. Interest in coming to games at Citi Field is strong. Sales of season tickets and ticket plans are up 8 percent over 2008. Sale of single game tickets for April and May games are double what they were for 2008," he said in an e-mail.
Selig said too much is being made in the media of the top-priced seats.
"They're off to a very good attendance start. One team is averaging 44,000 -- the Yankees are at 44 -- and the Metsies are averaging 37,000," he said. "So it would be hard if I went to Pittsburgh or somewhere today and tell them, gee, you know, those two New York clubs are really struggling."
Selig said he was pleased with overall attendance. Through Wednesday, the 30 clubs were averaging 29,612, which he said was down 5 percent from a similar point last year.
"Nobody can draw conclusions because it's way too early," he said. "I can't forecast. There's just too many factors involved here, but we seem to be doing pretty well."
At a separate APSE meeting earlier in the day, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said he had taken notice of the unsold seats at New York's baseball parks.
"It's incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front row seats empty," he said.
Garber said the league's law firm had canceled its Yankees season tickets this year. Proskauer Rose represents both MLB and MLS, but Proskauer spokesman Josh Epstein said no cancellation had been made.
"We had only 20 games in the old stadium and we decided to upgrade to a full season of 81 games behind the New York Yankees dugout," he said.
Selig said the issue of whether the new Yankee Stadium was too hitter-friendly also was for the team to deal with.
"I know they did studies. I know they're probably somewhat surprised by what happened but it's early yet. It's awfully early," he said. "Let's just see what happens."
He also hopes the proposed sale of the Chicago Cubs from Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family can close within two months.
"I know they talked about June now, and I hope we can make that," Selig said.
Selig also was happy the a new ballpark for the Florida Marlins had been given final approval.
"We'll all feel a lot better when the foundation is in and people are working," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's chief operating officer.
In addition, Selig took note that Washington's Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman wore jerseys reading "Natinals" during a game last week and that the manufacturer, Majestic Athletic, had apologized.
"People make mistakes," Selig said. "That's embarrassing."