Baseball March 28, 2007
By Donald Jeremiah Trella
The entry for “angel” in the American Heritage Dictionary begins, “a typically benevolent celestial being …”. But if you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) and you plan on seeing an Angels home game during the upcoming 2007 MLB season, you might well be pondering the old Shakespearean question, “What’s in a name?”
The Angels have recently adopted what are arguably the most restrictive resale regulations on season ticket holders in all of Major League Baseball (and even if you’re interested in purchasing tickets to only one Angels game, keep reading – you’re affected too, and chances are you don’t even know it!).
Angels season ticket holders, like season ticket holders for the other 29 MLB clubs, pre-purchase tickets to all 81 home games (which will inevitably include some games that the buyer cannot or does not wish to attend). Unlike season ticket holders from the other 29 clubs (with the exception of the Yankees), however, Angels season ticket holders will be forced into reselling the tickets they can’t use exclusively through the Angels’ own online service (where the Angels take a modest 20% cut for themselves).
But wait, there’s more … not only are season ticket holders forced into the Angels’ own resale monopoly, but they aren’t even allowed to post their ticket for less than face value. The Angels might have some reasonable argument against allowing season ticket holders to sell for greater than face value (maybe) – but they do allow that – a season ticket holder may resell his/her tickets through the Angels exchange for up to 3 times the face value (for 30 of the 81 games only). But why stop people from selling their season tickets for below face value?
The answer is simple – absent such a provision, the average Joe might be able to buy a ticket to a lower-interest game (say, a game against the Devil Rays, who had the worst record in baseball last year) from a season ticket holder for a price that is lower than the price the Angels are charging people to buy a ticket for a single Angels-Devil Rays game. In other words, the Angels use the terms of their contract with season ticket holders to eliminate market pressures and charge single-game ticket buyers an inflated price to a game like Angels vs. Devil Rays.
So why can’t a single-game buyer turn to an online ticket broker and buy say, 4 Angels-Devil Rays tickets from a season ticket holder who’s willing to unload the ticket for below face value? Well, he could, but chances are he won’t find any season ticket holder’s tickets for sale on a ticket broker’s website. If you’re an Angels season ticket holder, and you get caught selling one of your tickets through any service besides the Angels’ service, the Angels say they’ll revoke your season tickets. The Yankees already did that to a few season ticket holders last year.
No other clubs do this – some have their own ticket exchange services, but besides the Yankees (and now the Angels), no teams force season ticket holders (under the threat of revoking their season tickets) to use their service and play by their rules. And as was mentioned earlier, the Angels have an effective mark up of 22% (110/90) on the transaction they are “facilitating”. The season ticket holder gets 90% of the posted price. Then it gets marked up. And the single game buyer pays 110% (x4, if you figure the buyer purchases 4 tickets).
If you could buy 4 single-game tickets from an online ticket broker for $5 less than face value per ticket, that’s $20 in your pocket the Angels are not getting … and they want it – and they appear ready, willing, and able to burn their own loyal customers – Angels’ season ticket holders – in order to get it from you.
I contacted Angels’ Director of Marketing and Ticket Sales Robert Alvarado and confronted him with my questions about the Angels’ new resale restrictions, which appear rather unfriendly to season ticket holders as well as Angels fans generally. Tomorrow, I will publish the details of my interview with him in Part 2 of my piece entitled, “The Angels’ Rebuttal”.