Toronto Blue Jays to revamp ticket prices for 2017 season
TORONTO — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 7:12PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 7:13PM EDT
On-field success breeds increased fan interest, which in turn breeds increased ticket demand.
Bet you can guess the next step when it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The American League East-leading club announced on Monday that it is overhauling its season-ticketing procedures for 2017.
And while the club is ensuring its baseball consumers that the makeover will allow for “enhanced value” to its fans, the bottom line is that season-ticket holders can expect to pay more to renew their seats for next season.
And those who purchase single-game seats can also expect to be digging deeper.
“I guess the best way I would describe it, we’re realigning our pricing across 81 games,” Andrew Miller, in his first season as the Blue Jays executive vice-president of business operations, said in an interview. “So a third of our games are actually going to decrease in price from where they started in 2016.
“Again, for individual ticket holders, it depends on which games they’re purchasing and when they purchase them. It’s not necessarily as simple as increased prices or stay the same.”
Under the new scheme, the Blue Jays are creating a five-category system in which the club will price its games based on such things as the opponent, the time of the season and if there is a special promotion planned.
“The idea is it’s acknowledging that 81 games are not equal, that Canada Day and Opening Day here … may have a very different level of interest for fans than, say, a typical Tuesday night in April.
“All it’s trying to do is more appropriately match the values assigned to each of those games with the ticket prices.”
Miller said he does not yet have an exact breakdown of the what the costs will be as MLB has yet to finalize next season’s schedule.
Under the current season-ticket plan, the cost is determined by the quality of the seats. In 2016, a 100-level seat between first and third base ran about $4,800 for the year.
Under the revamped plan, the Blue Jays say, current season ticket members can save up to 20 per cent on the cost of their 2017 seats if they renew over the next 3 1/2 weeks.
The club is referring to this as their “Early Bird” special, which concludes Sept. 8.
“After Sept. 8 … then the prices will change,” Miller said. “And then after Sept. 30, the prices will change. So again it’s not necessarily a simple answer to say here’s what season tickets are today and here’s what they will be moving forward.”
But when you sort through the corporate speak, the Blue Jays will admit that those season ticket holders looking to renew for next season can anticipate an average price increase of 9 per cent – and that’s only if they purchase before the Sept. 8 deadline.
Business has been skyrocketing for the Blue Jays since last season, when they made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.
The momentum has carried over this year where the Blue Jays have been playing before continued packed houses at Rogers Centre.
Through 62 home games this year, the Blue Jays are fourth over all in the majors and lead the AL with an average attendance of almost 41,000.
They’ve sold out 28 games in 2016 (roughly 47,300) compared to just six at the same time last year. Through the first five months of this season, fans have purchased 3.2 million in tickets, about a 24-per-cent increase from last year.
“Fan engagement has been absolutely tremendous,” Miller said, and it definitely helps that the Blue Jays carried a half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles heading into Monday night’s game in New York against the Yankees.
Bob Stellick, the principal at Toronto-based Stellick Marketing Communications Inc., which specializes in sport marketing and promotions, said the Blue Jays cannot be blamed for making this move now.
“I think the market has moved toward that [dynamic pricing],” he said. “The Leafs have dynamic pricing now, people are used to it to a certain degree. I think in all honesty the real key is the performance of their team.
“The Blue Jays had dynamic pricing opportunities in the past and they were very tentative about them because the team wasn’t that big a draw. But when your ticket sales are up by the millions this year compared to other years, certainly they’re looking for some ways to pay the payroll and they’re also looking at ways to maximize revenues.”
Stellick said there is one undeniable truth about sports tickets. “The beauty of sport, the proof is in the pudding,” he said. “You and I can make that decision to buy or not to buy.”