Neither the Mets nor the Yankees revealed their pandemic ticket policies on Wednesday, the first day MLB allowed teams to do so, but plans from other clubs hinted at what the local teams will look like.
The new policies from at least nine organizations were largely similar in offering ticket-holding fans refunds and/or credits toward future games, with minor differences in incentives, the term covered and the simplicity of getting money back.
The Cardinals, for example, are issuing automatic full refunds by the end of the week for single-game tickets, but season-ticket holders have to request a refund. In the Astros’ version, season-ticket holders have to contact the ticket department or their ticket associate to “discuss refund options”; otherwise, they will get a credit to be used for other games. The Red Sox are sending an email to every fan who bought season or individual tickets, and if a given fan doesn’t choose from the refund/credit/exchange options, the team automatically will issue a refund.
“As we continue to evaluate possibilities for the 2020 season, it’s important that we provide options to our ticket buyers for games scheduled in April and May,” Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement. “We appreciate how patient our fans have been as we worked through the implications of the pandemic on our schedule.”
Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “What you see is a policy that balances a lot of different concerns, and foremost has to be the fans. We hope they understand that we’re trying to do the right thing.”
The ticket policies also differ in length, with some covering games through April and others through May. All can be extended for however long fans are not allowed to attend games.
Most teams came up with credit incentives, little thank yous to try to convince fans to let them keep the money.
The Reds are willing to give season-ticket holders a bonus 10% concessions credit if they choose to put their 2020 credits toward another plan for 2021. The Red Sox (season tickets) and Indians (season tickets and single-game tickets) offered 10% bonuses of the total dollar amount used as a credit. The Twins made it 15%, the Giants 5%. Athletics season-ticket holders can lock in a 5% discount on 2021 plans if they apply their 2020 money now.
A noteworthy caveat for all ticket policies: They cover only tickets bought through the teams. They do not account for the secondary market and resellers such as StubHub and Ticketmaster, which have their own policies.
For the first five weeks of scheduled games, MLB marked them as postponed — not canceled — and thus they were not eligible for refunds. They still are officially postponements, but the league changed its mind on the tickets front, granting autonomy to teams this week regarding what to do about tickets for games that were not played.
That decision came amid increasing public outcry across the sport’s markets, including a class-action lawsuit, with some fans viewing teams holding on to their money as a de facto interest-free loan at a time of great economic uncertainty.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, nobody knows when the baseball season will start or if it will start. But MLB — ever optimistic — is considering various plans that include teams playing 80 to 100 games. The league is waiting to see how the public health crisis progresses before deciding whether games can be played at teams’ home ballparks or with fans in attendance. Neutral sites and spectator-less games appear more likely, at least at the start of a hypothetical season.
In the meantime, Mets and Yankees fans wait for specifics on tickets — and their money back.
“We are still evaluating and working through our ticket policy details,” a Mets spokesman said, “and will reveal [them] as soon as they are complete.”
The Yankees said on Tuesday that they would have a policy “in the next few days.”