Airlines and hotels have been doing it for decades. Most pro sports teams have been doing it for years.
Now, at last, the Yankees have taken a plunge into the world of ticket prices shaped by the winds of market forces.
Many fans first became aware they had begun using both variable and dynamic pricing when individual game tickets went on sale last week and reports surfaced of high prices for Derek Jeter Night on May 14.
But the Jeter story only was part of a much larger one.
After years of resisting, the Yankees are believed to be the last team in Major League Baseball to use variable pricing – in which games are given different cost designations based on their attractiveness. The Mets went that route in 2003.
At the same time, the Yankees became one of the last to use dynamic pricing — in which prices float based on real-time factors such as weather, team performance and the like. The Mets went that route in 2012.
Marty Greenspun, the Yankees’ senior vice president for strategic ventures, said this seemed like a good time given that the team is introducing changes to Yankee Stadium itself that will add a variety of new ticket products.
They include such innovations as a standing-room-only “Pinstripe Pass” that give fans access to new viewing areas not accompanied by traditional seats.
The big current trend in stadium design is communal areas where fans can mingle and (perhaps most importantly) take pictures to post on social media.
“We’re being proactive with our fans,” Greenspun said. “We’ve been researching this with our fans. We knew dynamic and variable pricing were out there. We thought the appropriate time to roll it out was with the new stadium enhancements.”
Greenspun said the changes to Yankee Stadium are a sign of “an evolution of the fan base. Fans watch the game differently these days than they have in the past.” He said many want to “walk around and be social and meet new people and hang out in different parts of the stadium and experience the game from different places.”
The Yankees expect minimal pushback from fans on the new, more complex pricing structure, as most people are used to such concepts from other areas such as travel and entertainment.
There are five price levels in the variable system. Events that are in strong demand, such as the home opener, Jeter Night and games against the Mets and Red Sox, naturally are in the most expensive tiers. But the majority of games are priced in one of the three least costly levels.
The dynamic pricing system is calculated by an algorithm that takes into account various factors, including what tickets are going for on the secondary market. But prices are not allowed to fall below that of what a season ticket holder paid.
The Yankees averaged 37,820 in paid attendance last season, their lowest such figure since 1998, according to baseball-reference.com.