Bud Selig touted Major League Baseball's attendance figures Thursday. He said the industry is doing just fine in light of the terrible economy and the usual April hurdles such as bad weather and young fans in school.
But the commissioner acknowledged the embarrassment plaguing the Yankees and Mets regarding their empty, high-priced seats in their new stadiums. Both teams, Selig suggested, are discussing this issue.
"Hal Steinbrenner did say a couple of weeks ago that he thought that they may have overpriced tickets, and they ought to look at it. Well, good for him," Selig said at MLB's New York headquarters in a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. "And I know the Wilpons are very sensitive about all of this, and I'm sure both clubs are doing that. And I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't be doing that. Because they should."
The Yankees are charging from $500 to $2,625 for Legends Suite tickets in 25 sections at the new Yankee Stadium in the first nine rows around the infield, an area that contains 1,895 seats.
The Mets have fewer premium seats near home plate and far lower prices. They are charging an average of $175-$495 for 1,567 seats in the Delta Club, which includes 20 rows between the dugouts.
Selig stressed that the Yankees averaged about 44,000 fans in their season-opening homestand and that the Mets averaged 37,000. But what stands out for both, particularly the Yankees, is that the seats that traditionally have been filled up have not been.
The Yankees declined to comment and the Mets said they aren't reassessing their prices.
Asked which young players he views as the future faces of baseball, Selig mentioned the Mets' David Wright, among others. But he saved his most effusive praise for a veteran, the Yankees' Derek Jeter.
"There can't be anybody who's represented the sport . . . they can't do any better than Derek Jeter has done," Selig said. "They just can't do any better. The more I'm around him, the more I watch him, boy . . .
"My highest compliment I could ever pay anybody: He reminds me of Robin Yount. Comes to play, very professional and will never embarrass you."