No one is sure what to expect from the Yankees on the field over the next two months as they assume the unfamiliar role of rebuilders rather than contenders.
But there also is uncertainty off the field as the team awaits the reaction of fans unaccustomed to meaningless late-season games. One of the most telling gauges will be the demand for tickets on the resale market.
Paid attendance was down an average of 2,305 per game compared with last year entering Wednesday night’s game against the Mets, to a still-healthy 38,588. That figure is not likely to fall much further because so many advance tickets already have been bought.
The question is how many no-shows there will be down the stretch, and the related matter of how much fans will pay on the secondary market to ticket holders looking to unload inventory.
TiqIQ, which monitors many resale sites, projects asking prices for August and September to average in the range of $75 to $85, down from $87.37 last season, $112.27 in 2014, $93.09 in 2013 and $104.07 in 2012.
SeatGeek, which also aggregates secondary market data, said list prices for the Yankees are down by an average of 15 percent since July 1.
Chris Leyden, a content analyst for SeatGeek, said prices actually paid for Yankees tickets have not yet dropped significantly but added he expects that “as the season goes on, the demand for tickets will continue to decrease as the team falls further out of the playoff race.”
Last month the Yankees ended a years-long feud with the biggest re-seller, StubHub, signing a partnership and thus eliminating what had been a logistical hurdle for fans looking to sell.
A StubHub spokesman, Glenn Lehrman, said it is too early to tell what effect the trade-deadline maneuvers will have on demand late this summer.
“There are a lot of factors that go into price fluctuation outside of just player movement,” he said. “We still expect there to be great demand to see the Yankees, as they have always been the top-selling team on StubHub year in and year out.”
Naturally, prices fluctuate based on various factors, but there are certain to be bargains in the coming weeks. As of Wednesday, there were bleacher tickets for as low as $9 on StubHub for Saturday afternoon against the Indians.
StubHub, as part of its deal, no longer allows print-at-home Yankees tickets, only mobile transactions, per a team policy instituted this season.
“Implementation has been smooth, the volume of transactions is up and our sell-through rate has increased significantly,” Lehrman said. “More importantly, it’s been a much better experience for fans, which is our number one goal.”
One element of the StubHub-Yankees partnership that raised eyebrows was StubHub agreeing to price floors, something it has been reluctant to do.
For most seats, the floor is set at 50 percent of the cost of a ticket based on the price season-ticket holders pay.
Other major-league teams are likely to seek similar arrangements, a matter sure to come up as Major League Baseball negotiates a new contract with StubHub. Their current deal expires after the 2017 season.
“StubHub is very open to partnering with the industry to create better solutions for fans,” Lehrman said when asked whether the company would be open to more teams using price floors.
“Each partnership opportunity is unique, and we will continue to come up with new and innovative ways to create the best possible event-going experience for fans.”
Other secondary market sites are under no obligation to honor a price floor.
Gametime, an on-demand mobile ticket app, already has seen tickets go for well under 50 percent below face value, with more likely to come.
“What is the market going to truly bear for tickets and what is the marketplace going to look like where there isn’t a prohibition on prices going against that 50 percent cap?” asked Sean Pate, head of communications for the app. “We have seen that 50 percent often is not enough.”
Pate, a former StubHub spokesman, said Gametime was pleased to see the Yankees ban print-at-home tickets — and to further the mobile trend through their partnership with StubHub. He said Yankees transactions are up 400 percent for the app over last season.
He called the Yankees’ decision to eliminate print-at-home tickets “very aggressive, but also very progressive.” (The Mets, like most teams, accept both mobile and print-at-home.)
Another measure of interest in the Yankees in August and September will be TV ratings. At the All-Star break, Yankees games on YES were averaging a dismal 2.28 percent of New York-area homes, a figure likely to sink further.
The team’s struggles this season have been good news for Comcast, whose 900,000 customers (mostly in New Jersey) have been without YES all year because of a carriage dispute.
Had the Yankees been winning, there would have been more pressure on the cable company to carry YES. Now, not so much. It appears the matter will not be resolved before the end of the season.