Stadium Offer Not Quite So Generous
New York Times
May 11, 2009
The seats behind home plate may not be the only thing empty at Yankee Stadium these days. There may be empty promises as well, according to Keith Olbermann, the MSNBC News anchor.
Stung by criticism that their premium seats were overpriced, the Yankees two weeks ago said full season-ticket holders in some elite sections could demand a refund for up to half the value of their remaining tickets, or obtain a credit for the same amount.
Those included seats in Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 at the far ends of the dugouts. For seats originally priced at $2,500 each, fans can get refunds or credits for $1,250. (Fans with full season plans in the seats between those sections, from 16 to 24A, also paid $2,500 a ticket, but will receive extra tickets, not refunds.)
Giving away refunds and free tickets was embarrassing enough. But according to Olbermann, the Yankees will not be cutting any checks to season-ticket holders in Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 â€¦ because there are none.
â€œIâ€™m reliably informed that the Yankees didnâ€™t manage to sell any of those seats, so thereâ€™s no refund to be had,â€ he wrote on his blog, Baseball Nerd. â€œReality here reads like something out of â€œCatch-22â€: you can get a refund on those tickets, but only if you havenâ€™t bought them. And you can now buy many of those high-end tickets at half the original price, except you canâ€™t, because the Yankees gave them away as make-goods.â€
The Yankees refused to say whether they created phantom refunds, as Olbermann, who has Yankees season tickets that cost $850 per game, contends. They would not say how many seats are in those sections. They would not say how many tickets â€” season tickets or otherwise â€” were sold in those sections.
â€œWeâ€™re kind of done talking about this,â€ said Alice McGillion, a spokeswoman for the team. â€œI have no idea if itâ€™s true, and itâ€™s not the kind of question Iâ€™m going to go ask about.â€
McGillion added that if there were empty seats there, they may be used by some of the season-ticket holders in the Legends Suite (Sections 16 to 24A, behind home plate and the dugouts) who are being given free seats.
â€œBut Iâ€™m not at all suggesting that his premise is correct,â€ she quickly added.
Randy Levine, the Yankeesâ€™ president, also declined to comment.
The reality may appear to be more nuanced. According to FanSnap.com, a Web site that lists tickets being sold by about five dozen resellers, there are a handful of seats for sale in Sections 15A and 15B for coming Yankees home games.
For example, for last Mondayâ€™s game against the Boston Red Sox, there were two seats for sale in Row 7 of Section 15B priced at $800 each (and a $80 handling charge). In Section 15A, there were eight seats available for $990 each.
For last Tuesdayâ€™s game, there were no seats for resale in Sections 24A or Section 25, but four seats offered for sale in Section 15B, Row 6, for $1,100 each.
There are a sprinkling of seats listed for all four sections for Fridayâ€™s game against the Minnesota Twins. All of them appear to be offered at prices below face value.
These tickets could have been originally bought as single-game seats, or were part of a partial season ticket plan. The Yankees arenâ€™t saying.