Saturday, January 21, 2006
Phillies to Raise Ticket Prices... Bad Move
The Philadelphia Phillies have announced their regular season ticket prices for the 2006 season and their announcement included a new wrinkle- variable ticket pricing. 45 of their 81 home dates will have tickets that cost more than the other 36. The increase occurs during the middle of the season, when the weather is warmer and more people are inclined to engage in outdoor activities. Tickets for the beginning and end of the season will remain at 2005 prices.
According to the Phillies, every other team in the National League East uses this method and the increase has nothing to do with who is on the schedule- just when they are on the schedule. The hikes represent an increase of between 6 and 10 compared to last year's prices (or even some of this year's prices).
While the Phillies have the right to charge any amount they wish for attendance to their games, it really doesn't look good to be raising prices this year. For the past five seasons, the hype has most definitely been greater than the results, which has led to a change in manager and general manager, along with some significant changes on the roster. The most notable of these changes is, of course, the departure of Jim Thome. Just last week, new General Manager Pat Gillick was quoted as saying that he realizes this team, at this point, is not a contender in their division.
What kind of message does this send to the fans of Philadelphia? "We know we have underacheived. We know we aren't in a position to take the division. But we want more money from you guys this year."
If people are willing to pay the increase, then this column is worthless. But I think the organization needs to reconsider this move. The team saw a significant drop in attendance between 2004 and 2005- about 600,000 people fewer in a year when they were in the playoff hunt even after they had concluded their last game. With fewer illusions of grandeur for 2006, it would seem that attendance should drop again. Wouldn't the more prudent action be to tell the fans that they are holding the line on prices this year (or, get ready for this... drop prices a bit) because we know we need more time to get this team where we want it to be? Wouldn't it be a good PR move to try to get fans back in the stands at this point?
Raising ticket prices is not consistent with the messages the Phillies have been sending this winter. They dealt Thome. They have been trying to deal Bobby Abreu for quite some time. The general manager has already said the team needs work. Everything they are saying indicates that they don't expect as many wins as last year. Why would fans want to pay more for a product they know is worse?