The final weekend of the Major League Baseball season turned out to be more stressful than expected for San Francisco Giants players and their fans. But the unexpected suspense made it a perfect and quite profitable one for Giants ownership.
The Giants employ a dynamic ticket pricing system in which the price of tickets at AT&T Park fluctuates depending on demand. With the system, the team’s bottom line got an impressive boost when the Giants—which needed to win only one game against the San Diego Padres to eliminate the Padres and win the NL West—lost the first two games of the series to set up a high-stakes finale (that wouldn’t have actually been a finale if the Padres won, but more on that in a moment) Sunday, October 3.
The Giants stopped their mini-skid in the nick of time by blanking the Padres, 3-0, to win the division and advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Giants’ clincher came in front of a sellout crowd of 42,822—the third SRO crowd of the weekend at the 41,915-seat facility. The Giants drew 42,409 to the opener Friday and 42,653 Saturday. The sellouts were the first for the Giants since they played to capacity crowds for each of the three games against those same Padres August 13-15—a span of 21 home dates.
Not bad for a series of games for which the Giants originally expected decent but by no means overwhelming crowds. Director of ticket sales Russ Stanley told Bloomberg News last week the Giants figured they would draw between 30,000 and 35,000 per game. Presumably, leading the NL West for the final week of the season also boosted interest in the Giants’ penultimate home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks: The Giants swept three games in front of an average crowd of 37,646.
The additional demand for the Padres series meant those who walked up to the gate over the weekend—or bought tickets on the resell market—certainly paid more than they would have in April, back when neither the Giants nor Padres were expected to contend and the cheapest seat to the October 1 game was a mere $5. By the middle of last week, that cheap seat reportedly was up to $20.
Bloomberg reported that a seat in the Field Club behind home plate was $68 at the beginning of the season but $175 by last week. At StubHub, meanwhile, the cheapest ticket Sunday to the afternoon’s game was $69.
The final weekend wasn’t the only time dynamic pricing paid off for the Giants. Stanley told Bloomberg the Giants’ revenue per seat increased by between 7 percent and 8 percent this season.
The Giants’ division championship gives them the home field advantage against the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-five NL Division Series beginning Thursday, October 7 and at least two more chances to maximize ticket revenue. That sure beats the alternative: Had the Giants lost Sunday, they would have been part of a historic three-team playoff for two spots with the Padres and Braves but would not have hosted either the NL West playoff against the Padres today, October 4, or, if they lost that game, the NL wild card playoff game against the Braves Tuesday, October 5.