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Tickets for 2021 MLB games: It's buyer beware

Mets fans wait in line for Opening Day

Mets fans wait in line for Opening Day against the Nationals on April 4, 2019 at Citi Field. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

In normal times, the excitement over Steve Cohen’s purchase of the Mets from the Wilpon and Katz families likely would lead to a surge in ticket-buying by fans of the team.

These are not normal times.

However, Mets tickets are available right now for the scheduled 162-game 2021 season, as are tickets for the Yankees and all of MLB’s 30 teams.

Two phrases come to mind, though: First, "buyer beware."

And if things with the COVID-19 pandemic don’t markedly improve in the next five months, any ticket purchase a fan makes today could turn out to be "Money for Nothing."

Way back on July 6, MLB announced a full schedule for 2021. It was an optimistic move, especially given that it came three weeks before the 60-game 2020 season opened without fans.

That season ended this past week with the Dodgers’ six-game victory over the Rays in the World Series at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.

In 2019, MLB total regular-season attendance was 68,506,896. The Yankees drew 3,304,404 (an average of 40,795). The Mets drew 2,442,532 (an average of 30,155).

In 2020, all of those totals were zero.

The only games that paying fans were allowed into were the Dodgers’ seven-game victory over the Braves in the NLCS — also in Arlington, Texas — and the World Series.

Tickets for those games were capped at 25% capacity under Texas law. Those 13 games drew a total of 144,465 and an average of 11,113. Available seats were spaced out, fans sat only with the people they came with, and they had to wear a mask when they were not eating or drinking.

All of the games were sellouts. Tickets for the World Series sold out the day they went on sale.

But what about next season?

The Mets are scheduled to open the Cohen Era on April 1 against the Nationals in Washington. The Yankees are scheduled to open at home against the Blue Jays, also on April 1.

The Mets’ home opener is scheduled for April 8 against the Marlins.

While both local teams have single-game tickets for sale on their websites, the home openers for both teams currently are for sale only as part of season-ticket packages.

The Mets also are not selling single-game tickets for a scheduled Sept. 11 game at Citi Field against the Yankees (the other two games in the three-game series are on sale). Single-game Mets tickets went on sale to the general public on Aug. 28.

The Yankees put 63 of their 81 scheduled home games on sale on Sept. 29. The games that currently are available only as part of season-ticket plans include Opening Day, a three-game Subway Series against the Mets on July 4 weekend, and all three planned series vs. the Red Sox.

Now down to the nitty-gritty: What happens if you, in your own burst of optimism, decided to buy tickets now?

There are several possibilities as to what could happen by April 1:

  • The games could be played as scheduled in stadiums full of fans;
  • The games could be played in front of a limited number of fans;
  • The games could be played with no fans in the stands;
  • The games could be postponed or canceled.

In terms of getting an immediate refund, for ticket-buyers, the key words are "postponed or canceled."

In 2020, teams initially "postponed" their early-season games, meaning ticket-buyers were not due a refund at that point because the games theoretically could have been rescheduled.

When it became clear that the pandemic was not going to allow a full schedule to be played and that no fans would be allowed in for the 60-game regular season, MLB eventually "canceled" the previous 162-game schedule.

Season-ticket holders were given the option of refunds or credits toward future ticket purchases (usually with incentives, such as a 10% bonus). Single-game ticket-buyers had to go through their original points of purchase (TicketMaster for the Yankees, the MLB-owned for the Mets) to request and eventually receive a refund or credit.

There is no reason to think anything regarding refunds or credits will be different if 2021 games are canceled.

The team websites are silent on that point. Both teams, however, have added lengthy legal language that, in part, says ticket-buyers agree to the risks associated with COVID-19 transmission if they attend 2021 games (i.e., you can’t sue if you get infected at the ballpark).

The Mets and Yankees, through their spokesmen, declined to comment on how ticket sales for 2021 are going. They also declined to answer questions about their contingency plans for all of the various scenarios for next season.

One thing is clear: You can buy tickets right now for scheduled 2021 Mets and Yankees games.

One thing is not clear: Whether you will be able to use those tickets.

New York Sports