Fingers pointed as tickets still unsold

Updated: October 14, 2012, 3:31 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

The New York Yankees still had tickets available and several thousand more were for sale on the secondary market Sunday morning for Game 2 of the AL Championship Series later in the day.

It was a development the team said doesn't accurately reflect the market, while one ticket broker attributed it to high prices and the postseason's revamped schedule.

Yankees fans woke Sunday to emails telling them the team was still selling tickets to the game.

[+] EnlargeYankees ticket email
ESPN.comYankees president Randy Levine said the characterization of the team's postseason ticket sales has been inaccurate.

"Tickets are available for today's game," read the Yankees' email, next to a picture of the team's unlikely hero Raul Ibanez, who has hit three postseason home runs.

On StubHub, meanwhile, fans and brokers who already had purchased seats were selling thousands more for the game to be played later in the afternoon.

A fan that clicked the "Buy Tickets" button on Ticketmaster could see blocks of seats -- as many as 19 in a row -- available for purchase.

From 8 a.m. ET to 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, approximately 500 tickets to the game were sold on StubHub, but that still left 6,800 tickets on the resale market.

"It's difficult to make money on the Yankees playoff games," said Jason Nissen, president and CEO of National Event Company, a ticket brokerage based in New York City. "I think a lot of people were spoiled with what happened from 1996 through 2004. Not only were the prices lower, but they were playing the Red Sox all the time."

StubHub spokesperson Joellen Ferrer declined to comment.

Major League Baseball spokesman Matt Bourne said that the league recommends a series of postseason ticket percentage increases based on a team's regular-season ticket price. The teams themselves, however, are responsible for setting those ticket prices for the division and championship series. The league sets the World Series prices unilaterally.

Tickets aren't cheap. A seat in section 230, in left field down the third base line, to Sunday's game at Yankee Stadium sells to a non-season-ticket holder for $131. That ticket will cost $196 should the Yankees make it to the World Series.

Yankees president Randy Levine said that characterization of the team's postseason ticket sales has been inaccurate.

"We sold more than 49,000 tickets for Wednesday and Thursday and more than 47,000 tickets for Friday and Saturday," Levine said.

Levine said that while the public reacts to prices on StubHub, some of the tickets listed aren't even in the hands of those who are selling them.

He says many are merely speculating and shorting the market.

For some time, Levine has been a critic of StubHub as fans now seem to be migrating to the eBay-owned resale site instead of the Yankees box office.

"As I've said, we have significant issues with StubHub and it has been affecting our attendance in a negative way all year," Levine said. "We expect that to be resolved after the season."

Timing has also been an issue for fans, who are being asked to attend five games in a row between the final three games of the AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles and now the first two games of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

Due to the short turnaround between beating the Orioles and playing the Tigers, it's understandable that fans had a hard time getting to the park or buying seats for that matter.

"It's hard to ask for people to buy tickets for five games in a row," Nissen said. "Especially given the fact that by the time the Yankees won the division series, corporate America was closed for the weekend. Those are the people who are going to buy a lot of these seats."

Levine said huge blocks of seats in left field and right field seen at Saturday's game had to do with the fact players on both the Yankees and the Tigers returned close to 1,000 seats because guests they had planned to invite couldn't make it due to the late scheduling of the game.

The Yankees drew 3.54 million fans this year, second most in baseball only behind the Philadelphia Phillies but the team's lowest total regular-season attendance since 2003.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter