Yankee Stadium Attendance Update

Last month, I wrote a post about how Yankee attendance is down, and blamed it on inefficient ticket pricing. Back then, attendance was bottoming out in the 41,000 range, and averaged about 42,000. A month later, and not much has changed:

The Yankees have sold the most tickets in baseball, by virtue of playing more home games than their competition, but are struggling to fill the Stadium as much as they are accustomed to. The Yankees sold 88.9% of capacity last season, 46,491 per game.

If the trend were to continue, it would have serious business and baseball implications for the Yankees. I still recommend a heavily-dynamic ticket pricing scheme, allowing the Yankees to drop prices and fill every seat in the Stadium. But that’s a previous post. I actually believe that attendance is about to turn around in a big way. Here is a chart of Stubhub’s lowest ticket price per series of upcoming games:

Compared with a similar graph that I created in the first attendance post, this looks a lot more robust. Only one series has rock-bottom prices (Pretty much every weekday series in April was in the $2-$5 range, and many non-Boston, non-Mets series now have pretty robust prices. Demand definitely seems to be increasing for Yankee games. Attendance should increase with it.

And on a side note, prices for Red Sox and Mets games have pretty much been cut in half. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for this, but I like my explanation: Given fixed ticket prices, people were gravitating to games they consider higher quality, causing demand for Mets and Red Sox tickets to rise and for everyone else to fall. When the other games get more attractive (weather, school is out, etc), the Red Sox and Mets games prices fall. All the more reason to implement dynamic pricing.

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

5 thoughts on “Yankee Stadium Attendance Update

  1. Game by Game attendance comparisons are not really doing so on an apples-to-apples basis, so I would hesitate to draw too many conclusions at this point. Some factors to consider are:

    1) The weather, which this year has been much worse. Along those lines, the Yankees 24th home game in 2010 was played on June 1. This year, it was played on May 15. In other words, it’s likely the weather was much better for the 24 games last year.

    2) The distribution of games. Last year, there were 12 weekend dates in the first 24. Although there were also 12 weekend dates this year, three were the first series of the year (incl. Opening Day), which usually draw better. Also, 8 of the 2010 weekend dates were in May, while this year 8 were in April.

  2. Duh, Innings!

    Home attendance is down for these reasons:

    1. The economy still sucks and so does the Yankees charging the most they’ve ever charged for tickets.

    2. YES Network coverage of the games are so good, why go to the games?

    3. $27 to park your car if you wanna drive to the Stadium.

    4. People are saving their money for postseason games.

    5. The Stadium is quite frankly, ordinary-looking and nowhere near as homey and vibrant as Camden Yards, Jacobs Field, or even the old Yankee Stadium which was just fine if you look at 2008 attendance. The new stadium has lost its luster and there is still NOTHING to do around the ballpark after a Saturday or Sunday 1:05pm game ending by 4-4:30, spare me that hideous, cramped Hard Rock Cafe. The Yankees should’ve just renovated the old Yankee Stadium again to include luxury suites in leftfield on their own dime like the New Jersey Nets should’ve just moved to the gorgeous Prudential Center at a cost of the ice to hardcourt to ice conversion the Devils’ ownership would’ve paid for or went 50/50 on the cost of with the Nets.

    6. The Yankees’ stars – Jeter, A-Rod, Rivera – are fading.

    7. People watch the games and see how DEAD the crowds are from there being so many rich/affluent/monied people with no passion whatsoever and decide to stay home and party it up with friends.

    8. 50″ and up tvs. Hey, if I have a 50″ or bigger lcd, I’m most likely in front of it especially on a weekday/during the workweek.

    9. Barely any Saturday night games. NYC is a Saturday night town. Enough with the 1:05pm games on Saturday or Sunday where I have to get up as early as 8-9am to head out to the games. I had to get up at 5-8am for work all week, I don’t want to do that on a Saturday and/or Sunday, sorry.
    To hell with the kids and families ALL THE TIME. Make half the Saturday home games 7:05pm night games and you will see a marked increase in attendance and concession sales.

    10. There’s a general consensus that the Yankees will make the postseason yet again this year, so why go to the games in droves?

    • nova9047

      Mostly agree with your assessment, Duh.

      1. Its the economy. To the factors you identify, I would add Supply and Demand. Always nearer to equilibrium than MLB would admit, weeknight ticket supply appears to have surpassed demand by 15 to 20%. Once the “aura” of a sellout dissipates, resale prices plummet (except for premium games).

      2. & 8 TV. Again agree. Once the bugaboo of tightwad owners, the electric eye has become omnipresent. Is the Yank game a blowout? Check out the Bosox or Phils. Or NHL. Or NBA. Or the NCAA sport du jour. Can’t do that from inside the park.

      3. Costs. Again agree. In addition to parking, add food and souvenirs. One bright spot- the days of $10 scorecards appear to be ending. Nats distribute theirs free, O’s for a buck.

      4. Marathon regular season. Each game determines 0.006% of your team’s postseason prospects, compared the NFL’s 6.25% per game. An early 1960’s MLB survey disclosed the average fan attends 6 – 7 games a season, less than 8% of the home schedule. To sell out consistently, an MLB team needs a causal fan base of 500,000 to 625,000 which shouldn’t be a problem in cities the size of NY, Chicago, or LA. Elsewhere, that’s a significant slice of the population. Look for NYY to continue to play to >80% capacity for the time being. Longer term projections depend on who replaces the current Yankee Legends. Can’t see Yanks playing to < 50% capacity in foreseeable future (next 10 years).

      5. Stadium factors. Citi Field is eerily evocative of Polo Grounds, an aesthetic disaster. In contrast YS II is open and airy. City did a good job cracking down on squeegie men and other undesirables who used to make attending Yankee games akin to running the gauntlet. Urban blight, which once limited Yanks to low 4 figure crowds on weeknights, still existant, but marginally less encroaching on Stadium environs. New Metro North train station was quantum leap forward. Parking and highway travel still the nightmare they always were. I don't see Stadium factors other than increased prices as negatively affecting attendance. In fact, historic recreated park is a tourist magnet.

      6. Ageing stars. NY Rangers have been featuring aging stars for generations, with little to no effect on MSG gate. As long as Yanks ageing stars continue to compete with MLB's young'uns they have a positive impact on attendance.

      7. Crowd vibe. Agree the suits come late, leave early. In many firms, including several in which I have worked, the suits burn tix in their desk drawer rather than distribute them to the grunts. Any number of explanations for that, none of them complimentary. Or the sales staff hands out freebies to clients with marginal interest in attending "ball games". At the end of the day, the tix wind up in the hands of those other than "real" fans (aka, those of us with no lives).

      9. S A T U R D A Y night. NY has never been a Saturday night baseball town. Don't know why. The bars on the Upper East Side do OK. Baseball's not a bad dating choice. On the other hand, the in-crowd prefers seaside locations to the Bronx on summer weekends. I guess the Yanks figure they will capture more homebound families by playing Saturday afternoons in the summer.

      10. Burnout. Agree. This era of Yankee baseball is now in its 17th season; matching post-war DiMag-Mantle era (1947-64) and eclipsed only by Ruth-Gehrig-DiMag pre-war era (1920-1941). Even the hottest shows on Broadway come to an end eventually. Ruth got old and fat, Gehrig got sick, DiMag developed other interests, Mick partied too hard. How will this era end? We probably caught our first glimpse of what’s to come with the "Jorge won't bat 9th" debacle. I shudder to think what will happen when the end comes.

      Well stated, Duh.

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