Modern sports venues increasingly give fans reasons to abandon their seats during games in search of food and other distractions on which they can spend their time and money.
The latest trend takes that a step further: Admitting fans without assigning them a seat at all.
Standing room only ticket options employ a variety of strategies. The Yankees’ “Pinstripe Pass” starts at $15 and includes a beverage, but it is sold on a per-game basis.
The Mets’ new plan expands the concept. Their “Amazin’ Mets Pass” charges $39 – plus a $5 service fee – and allows access to Citi Field for as many games as one wishes to attend for an entire calendar month. (Only the home opener April 4 and games against the Yankees July 2 and 3 are excluded.)
An obvious target market: Young adults who do not have small children and are willing and able to stay on their feet for hours while moving about the stadium buying food and merchandise - and taking pictures for social media.
The plan is entirely digital, via an app that allows fans to upgrade to an assigned seat if they wish, for an additional cost. (The plan includes one free upgrade to an assigned seat per month, for a Monday through Thursday game.)
Fans can forward their pass to someone else starting four hours before game time.
Lou DePaoli, the Mets’ chief revenue officer, said the team expects to reach its limit on the monthly plan, which is capped by fire safety rules regarding how many standing room customers can be admitted. He said the team would sell only about 2,000 of the passes.
“If you’re 20 to 35 years old and you want to come here, it’s a place to hang out and enjoy this great food,” DePaoli said at an event last week to showcase Citi Field’s food and beverage options. “Eventually time changes, you get used to coming here, maybe turn around and buy a ticket or you’re older and you want to sit down.”
The plan automatically renews at the start of every month but can be cancelled by the 20th of a given month before it renews.
“If you say, ‘Hey, I’m going to try it for April,’ you can cancel,” DePaoli said. “It’s really flexible. We put a lot of thought into the pricing of it and we said, ‘You know what, we thought that was the right point to get people in.’
“You notice how people consume baseball now. There’s a lot of foot traffic, a lot of walkers. We’ve had sold-out crowds here and I’ve had people ask, ‘Where is everybody?’ If you go on the concourse, you can’t move. Come out to our Fan Fest out in centerfield, it’s packed with people.
“People just consume it differently during the regular season. Come the playoffs, like during the World Series back in ’15, there was nobody on the concourse. Everybody was in their seat watching.”