May 28, 2018
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Fans will determine future of ticket-pricing software process


This is about software that hits where you sit.

The San Francisco Giants are using new software to determine what ticket prices should be on a day-to-day basis for their games. It is the next step in ticket pricing to follow the already used premium pricing for popular matchups used by many teams.

Premium prices are charged for tickets to maximum-interest games, such as the Red Sox and Yankees.

That system was quietly introduced some years ago and fans seemed not to react.

The Giants want to go the next step and price tickets from game to game, day to day.

The software factors in ticket sales, fan interest in the opponent, weather, players either in or out of action, and anything else that might lead a fan to purchase a seat or stay away.

The number of seats where the price would be altered is limited. The Giants are starting with seats that might remain empty otherwise. Season-ticket seats are not affected — at least not for now.

As an example, when Giants star pitcher Tim Lincecum pitched against the Mets recently, the upper-deck seats went up $2 to $17 and bleacher seats went from $17 to $27. There was even a $2 increase the day of game for the bleacher seats.

Can you see star player agents working this kind of pricing into contracts for extra money for their players if prices are going up?

Prices can also go down. If a star is out of a game or tickets just aren’t selling for a particular game, adjust the price down and get the fans in the seats where they will spend on food and souvenirs.

This pricing system is much akin to what airlines and rent-a-car companies do. When demand is up, so are the prices, and vice versa.

All of this is new to baseball and resonates against the long-held philosophy that a fan goes to see a game, no matter who is playing or what star is in or out.

Joe DiMaggio may have been ahead of his time when he said he played everyday because there might be some fan in the park who would never get to see him again. Joe is in and the price is up.

In this day of individual star attractions, clubs are selling marquee names and fans have bought into that. If the star is out, why shouldn’t the price be lower?

There is a slippery slope here, however.

Take the case of the Dodgers and their now fallen-off-the-pedestal star Manny Ramirez.

When Ramirez was suspended for 50 games, the Dodgers shut down the “Mannywood” section of the park where fans came and wore dreadlocks (that could be purchased at the park) and held up all manner of Manny signs.

The Dodgers offered refunds to anyone who had purchased tickets in that section. Manny’s out and prices are down.

Season-ticket holders might become a bit agitated if too many seats are discounted while they stay seated in full-priced boxes.

Fans are also going to start asking seatmates what they paid to get in, and nobody likes to know they paid more for the same product.

Bad teams may be faced with demands that all ticket prices be reduced based on poor performance by the old home team.

Once fans become aware of this pricing structure, will they wait for the next deal to purchase? And if there is one deal, there surely must be a better deal just around the corner.

The software makes the pricing system possible. Fan reaction will determine if it leads to ticket sales.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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