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Yankees, StubHub announce new partnership

Yankees fans can get a glimpse of home

Yankees fans can get a glimpse of home plate with specially priced tickets available this holiday season. Photo Credit: James Escher

The Yankees and StubHub announced a truce Monday in their long-running feud over the resale of Yankees tickets, in the form of what team president Randy Levine called a “landmark partnership” that will run through 2022.

Effective July 15, when the Red Sox visit on the day after the All-Star break, StubHub will become the official fan-to-fan resale vendor of the Yankees, replacing the Yankees Ticket Exchange, which is run by Ticketmaster.

But two key elements of the existing system will remain in place:

The Yankees, the only team in Major League Baseball to entirely eliminate print-at-home tickets in favor of ticketing through mobile phones, will continue with that policy under StubHub’s umbrella.

And contrary to what generally has been StubHub’s policy, there will be a price floor for sales rather than an entirely free-floating market.

Regarding the former, Levine insisted fans “overwhelmingly” prefer mobile and that it has cut down on fraud.

“Print-at-home is kind of obsolete,” he said. “A lot of people don’t even have printers. A lot of people are on the go and you can’t use print-at-home when you’re on the train or working in the street or anywhere.”

(Most teams, including the Mets, have both mobile and print-at-home options.)

Regarding the latter, StubHub president Scott Cutler said his company was willing to relax its usual policy against price floors in the interests of making a deal and honoring the Yankees’ preferences.

“We fundamentally believe in an open and transparent marketplace that provides fans access to tickets for the right price,” he said. “We’re also balancing that interest of buyers with the interest here and the requirements of the holder of the brand.”

Levine said that generally prices will not be allowed to fall below 50 percent of the face value of a given seat based on the prorated, full-season-ticket price. He said that would represent an “infinitesimal” slice of the resale market.

Cutler said of the 51,000 seats currently on the resale market only about 100 would be impacted by the price policy Levine described.

Ticketmaster will remain the Yankees’ primary market partner, and traditional, hard-paper tickets still are an option for those who prefer that to mobile. But upon resale, hard-paper tickets will be converted to mobile form.

As for ticket resales outside StubHub, the Yankees cannot legally prevent that, but without the coding to make such transactions on mobile devices, the opportunity to resell without using StubHub will be limited to hard-paper tickets.

ESPN reported that the deal is worth about $100 million. It also includes advertising signage around Yankee Stadium and other marketing and sponsorship elements.

The agreement comes after years of tension between the companies, with the Yankees fearing that the secondary market was cutting into their ability to sell tickets directly to fans at face value.

The Yankees opted out of Major League Baseball’s wider deal with StubHub in 2012. Before this season, when the Yankees announced an end to print-at-home tickets, it widely was perceived as a shot across StubHub’s bow.

During that period, Yankees chief operating office Lonn Trost was criticized for comments he made on WFAN in which he seemed to suggest that fans in the most expensive seats do not want to be around those who purchased tickets on the cheap and were not accustomed to those high-end sections.

As fans complained of added inconvenience, Levine and Cutler met to seek solutions, and Levine said he came away impressed with Cutler and convinced he could work with StubHub.

“It became very obvious to us that it would be mutually beneficial for both of us to be partners,” Levine said.

StubHub is the nation’s largest ticket reseller, so Yankees fans seeking to buy or sell will have a wider range of options. StubHub will shut down its location near the Stadium where it handled in-person ticket transactions.

Levine said the Yankees have had more than 250,000 mobile tickets used at the Stadium so far this year.

Entering Monday night they were averaging 38,313 in paid attendance, down 1,797 per game compared to the same point last year, according to baseball-reference.com.

New York Sports