I’m a self-professed Yankee fan. I don’t watch as many Yankee games as I wish I could, but I still get to see 20-30 per year. Like most viewers, when I watch Yankee games, I notice how the seats behind home plate tend to be empty. While those seats sure cost a pretty penny, in New York City many businesses and individuals have enough pretty pennies to afford them. Whether its people who just like being on TV during every pitch or companies that want to entertain their clients, there has to be a market for those seats.
So… where is everybody? Why are these seats continuously sparsely filled?
I got the chance to do some in-person research recently when I was fortunate enough to receive tickets for the Yankees vs. Blue Jays game on Wednesday, June 18. Four colleagues and I had tickets to the Legends Suite, a truly VIP experience offered by the Yankees. Tickets to the Legends Suite get you a seat in the first 10 or so rows of the stadium, along with in-seat food and drink that is included with the price. Want a burger? Milkshake? Both? Just ask your attendant. Oh, and don’t forget the cotton candy.
But that’s not all! Tickets to the Legends Suite also include access to a two-story restaurant-like club that features insanely awesome amenities: an all-you-can-eat buffet comprised of food like sushi, lobster tails, Del Monaco steak, and a featured chef’s selection; unlimited non-alcoholic beverages; and desserts that will fatten you up faster than helium in a balloon. The upstairs is classy; the downstairs is more NYC-chic. It’s so nice inside that you really don’t want to leave…..
… And therein lies the answer to the mystery! Those empty seats so clearly visible during the broadcast? They haven’t gone unsold. Rather, the experience inside the stadium is so spectacular that most people prefer to stay inside and feel like royalty, rather than go out to their seats and take in the game.
This situation leads to a bit of a quandary. How big of a problem – if at all – is the perception that the Yankees are having trouble selling these prime seats? One could easily argue that if the revenue is flowing in, there isn’t a problem. But the Yankees brand screams of prestige, success, and the value of the ticket. It behooves the Yankees for the market to believe that tickets are tougher to come by and will not run cheap.
The lesson for the Yankees, or for any team thinking of following their lead, is to work the PR engine. Use the tools available, such as social media, to get the word out about the Legends Suite. Put a “reserved” sign on the seat backs. It might seem like bragging at first, but I’d suggest that if viewers know those seats are accounted for, it might make them curious to know exactly how awesome it is inside the suite. And that one trial purchase might be enough to snare them in.
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