Target Field still has a layer of snow and the temperature will reach only 17 degrees today here in Minnesota but in Ft. Myers the Twins pitchers and catchers have already started daily workouts and the position players will be reporting soon. On Saturday, February 16th the Twins will begin selling single-game tickets. The last couple of years when the Twins opened single-game ticket sales the phone lines and web site got over-run and there were sometimes long delays in getting your tickets purchased. Based on the Twins poor showing the last two seasons and low expectations for 2013 I would not expect long waits to purchase your tickets this year.
To me, the question is should you buy your single-game tickets when they go on sale on Saturday or do you wait? The current quoted price for single-game tickets is only good from February 16 through February 22 because on February 23 demand-based pricing kicks in. Haven’t heard about demand-based pricing? The Twins actually started that policy in 2012 and here is how it plays out in 2013. Beginning February 23, single game ticket prices in all seating sections will be determined on a daily basis according to current market demand. Prices may fluctuate upward or downward based on real-time market conditions. So the question is, will I get better value by purchasing my tickets now or will I be able to get a better price once the season begins. I guess it all depends on how well the Twins play and what the weather is like. Personally; I just find it irritating that the published single-game ticket price is only good for 1 week before the first spring training game is even played. I guess I am old school.
On the other side of the coin you can certainly argue that it is better to sell more tickets even if you have to sell them at a discount than to not sell them at all at full price. The customer benefits because he gets to see the baseball game and the team benefits because they get the fan in the ballpark where it is likely he will spend additional dollars on food and possibly merchandise. Where the rub comes in is that going to a baseball game is getting to be like buying an airline ticket, each person on that flight is going to go to the same destination on that particular flight but each of them may have paid a different fare to get there. I have a problem with that.
The other issue I see is that in order to keep the season ticket holder base happy the team has to sell the demand-based tickets at a higher price than what the season ticket holders pay or that becomes a huge issue in itself. Thus the demand-based tickets can only be lowered to a certain price base level but on the other side if all is going great, the team can jack up the price of the ticket to whatever the market will pay. I see little risk and high reward for the team with demand-base pricing and to me it is another gimmick that costs the fans.
The Minnesota Twins have been here since 1961 and over 81 million fans (through 2012)have come through the turnstiles at the Met, the Metrodome and now Target Field to watch the Twins play ball and most of them have bought tickets. I thought it would be fun to take a look at Twins ticket prices going back to 1961 when the ballclub played their first game at Metropolitan Stadium. I did a lot of research on Twins ticket prices and here are some interesting nuggets that I found.
In 1961 the Twins had 3 price categories, a box seat went for $3, reserved grandstand went for $2.50 and general admission was $1.50. In spite of owner Calvin Griffith’s miserly reputation he did not raise ticket prices until 1968, his eighth season here and he only increased box seats by 50 cents and reserved grandstand by a quarter. Keep in mind that the Twins played in the 1965 World Series during this period and still did not raise ticket prices. Think that would happen in todays world? Not a chance.
By the time the Twins were getting ready to move into the brand new Metrodome in 1982 they had completed 21 years at Met Stadium and the team had implemented ticket price increases just 8 times with the cheapest ticket going from $1.50 to $3.00 and the highest priced ticket jumped from $3 to $7.
In the 23 full seasons that Griffith owned the Twins from 1961 to 1983 (1984 does not count as the team was sold mid-season) he raised ticket prices 9 times (39%) and kept ticket prices at the previous rate on 14 (61%) occasions. During Griffith’s reign the average ticket price went from $2.33 to $6.00, an increase of 157.51%.
The Twins were sold to the Pohlad family in mid-season in 1984. Pohlad’s first full year as team owner was 1985 and his teams played in the Metrodome for 25 years from 1985 through 2009. During the Pohlad era in the Metrodome the Twins raised ticket prices 18 times or 72% of the time. They made no change to the ticket price 4 times, 16% of the time and they lowered ticket prices on 3 occasions or 12% of the time. The first drop took place in 1987 when the ticket price dropped 4% as the average ticket price went from $6.25 to $6.00 based on a $1.00 drop in lower left field seats. The second average ticket price drop occurred as the team entered the 1996 season when the average ticket went from $10.86 to $8.67 but this is kind of deceiving because the Twins added one new ticket category and dropped two high-priced categories and sold them as season tickets only and these category changes dropped the average ticket price when the ticket prices never actually changed. The third drop in average ticket price occurred as the Twins went into the 2002 season fresh off the “contraction” fiasco. The contraction business may have played a role in the ticket price reduction but what about the outrageous 53.58% average ticket price increase that took place prior to the 2001 season? Maybe the Twins realized that they over did it the year before, who knows? Bottom line, from 1985 through the 2009 season in the Metrodome under the Pohlad umbrella the average Twins ticket price went from $5.50 in 1985 to $30.25 which is an increase of 450%.
Between 1961 and 2005 the Twins had anywhere from 2 to 7 different pricing categories each season. Dynamic/variable pricing showed up in 2006 and the price categories jumped to 16, in 2009 it jumped to 24, in 2010 with the move to Target Field it more than doubled to 57 , in 2011 it crept up to 60 and in 2013 it jumps to 95.
I set up a new page called Twins Ticket Price History so if you want to see a year by year look at Twins ticket prices, some charts and tables showing ticketing information, and some ticket images including some interesting “phantom” tickets, check it out.