After dumping StubHub, Yanks partnering with Ticketmaster on secondary market

"Baseball as an industry has convinced fans to

"Baseball as an industry has convinced fans to go to StubHub first,'' Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said. (Credit: AP, 2012)

Two months after opting out of Major League Baseball's deal with StubHub, the Yankees announced a secondary ticket market plan of their own Monday, in partnership with Ticketmaster.

The move largely was born of a growing frustration with watching fans go to StubHub in search of tickets -- often at prices below face value -- before seeking to buy them from the team itself.

"Baseball as an industry has convinced fans to go to StubHub first,'' Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said. He compared the situation to a traveler who goes to United Airlines in search of a ticket that is unavailable. "They don't tell you to go to Delta. They tell you to take a different flight.''

The Yankees and Angels were the only teams to take a pass on the renewed StubHub deal. Fans of the other 28 can continue to electronically transfer tickets through the site to secondary buyers at whatever price the market will bear.

There is nothing the Yankees legally can do to stop fans from continuing to resell on StubHub -- or any other site -- but now the process will require obtaining a physical ticket.

StubHub plans to open an office on 161st Street, across from Yankee Stadium, to accommodate buyers on game days. "We're looking forward to competing against both the Yankees and Angels,'' StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman said.

The new program, called "Yankees Ticket Exchange,'' will allow fans to sell tickets for a relatively low 5 percent fee, with the security of direct transfer within TicketMaster's system.

Unlike StubHub, the exchange is expected to feature price floors of some sort, but Trost said particulars have not been worked out. "Right now, we're experimenting,'' he said. "We'll use this year to make a determination. Certain games may have it; certain games may not. Certain sections may have it; certain sections may not.''

Chris Grimm, communications director for the Fan Freedom Project, said it is difficult to assess the Yankees' plan without knowing the minimum price system.

"We think price floors are bad for fans,'' he said. "If they are going to have a price floor, we do hope they announce it . . . We just want them to be honest about it and disclose it so that fans can make an informed decision.''

Said Lehrman, "Any kind of price floor is unfriendly. Market demand should be able to dictate the pricing.''

When the exchange launches, likely in mid-March, Trost said, "Everyone is going to be aware of what we're doing.''

The increasingly efficient, sophisticated secondary market has become a headache for teams in all sports as fans learn to play the system to their benefit.

"We're not stopping anyone from selling on any secondary market they want,'' Trost said. The Yankees consider the exchange merely a step toward addressing the matter.

"I can't tell you it's going to help me 100 percent,'' Trost said. "I can tell you I don't want to continue the problem . . . I'd like them to come to the Yankees for their tickets.''

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