I was looking into getting some Diamondbacks tickets over the weekend, and noticed that they've changed the pricing structure. Previously, there were two levels of games, but now, the schedule resembles an explosion in a Skittles factory, with six different pricing structures. They range from the "gray", which cover most weekday games, through blue, sand, green and red, up to the "yellow", which is for Opening Day, and six other contests, against five different opponent (the Dodgers appear twice).
Let's take a look at why they've done this and how it compares to how our NL West rivals handle tickets.
The "why" is obvious: to make more money, by trying to match supply and demand more precisely. In some ways, it makes sense, but it's not something you see much in other forms of entertainment: if you go to the movies, you don't see Harkins altering their prices based on whether you're taking in a must-see Oscar winner or (to quote someone's signature) a badly made schlock-fest with absolutely no redeeming value. It's also the same price if you see a movie on the opening Friday night, or the last Friday before it heads off to DVD.You get a discount on early screenings, and that's about it.
It won't make much difference to me, but then, I'm a Diamondbacks fan. I go see them play, and who the opposition are, really doesn't factor into my decision. [Except Cubs games. I won't go to Cubs games...] However, this is Arizona, and as all our teams are aware, transplanted fans hide under every rock out here, suddenly popping out to claim undying loyalty when their team swings by, and irritating the hell out of the locals. So charging more for certain games makes sense, though I was surprised no top tier games are Cubs ones. After all, we have been repeatedly informed that no-one bothers to watch any other baseball games. Except those involving Todd Helton, anyway.
The structure seems a little bizarre as well. Take the White Sox series, running June 17-19. Friday night's game is blue, which is the second-lowest tier [it's somewhat confusing on the site, as it's placed above 'sand', even though its prices are lower]. Saturday night's is green, two levels higher. But the Sunday afternoon contest is in the highest bracket of yellow - and is the only Sunday game of the season there. So for games over the same weekend against the same opponent, a Baseline Box seat will cost you somewhere between $36 and $44, depending on which game you attend.
What do the other teams in the NL West have as structures?
- Colorado. Opening Day is in a category all by itself, and there are three tiers below that - Classic, Premium and Value - though it's not immediately clear what games are which. There does seem quite a hefty price difference: the "Pavilion" area, for example, ranges from $19 to $51. However, the $4 Rockpile seats are available for all games, so kudos there, given our cheapest tickets are at least twice that, and you won't find anything less than $13 for yellow-tier contests.
- Los Angeles. Initially, it seems like the Dodgers aren't bothering with all that, as their price chart simply lists "Advance Price" for single-game ticket purchases. However, the little * next to it, led me to the bottom, where there's a footnote: "Prices reflect Sunday - Thursday game." The casual browser is unable to find any information as to what surcharge applies to weekend games, short of buying a ticket, but it looks to be between $3 and $10, depending on location.
San Diego. One price fits all. There, that was simple. Though you can't get All You Can Eat tickets for Opening Day. Bummer. $5 gets you in with a "Park Pass", which allows access to Petco but no seat.
San Francisco. What the Padres have in simplicity, the Giants more than make up for in Byzantine complexity. Go look at the chart: SRSLY, WTF. No two games are the same. "Rates can fluctuate based on factors affecting supply and demand," says the page, and they're not kidding. The formula is confidential, but sources tell me it's based on the number of sea-lions per hour off Pier 39, the phase of the moon and daily fluctuations in Tim Lincecum's body temperature (averaging oral and anal measurements).Tickets start at $8, which isn't bad considering they did okay last year, or so I hear.