Giants' 'Dynamic' Pricing System Is Downright Evil
|The Giants may not be able to afford Barry Zito, but Giants fans on a budget can now only afford to go to his games|
I expect the team will make scads of extra money, though not enough to write off the Barry Zito fiasco. But I sincerely hope that this is a dismal failure, and those responsible for it are disgraced into finding non-baseball avenues of squeezing every last dollar out of rubes. Maybe they could go work for the Department of Parking and Traffic.
The oft-quoted model for the new, likely soon-to-be-ubiquitous baseball pricing system is airline ticket purchasing. It's almost certain readers have experienced first-hand the joys of last week's $300 tickets this week being priced at $410. It's a strong incentive to buy early before myriad contrived supply-and-demand factors are tossed into the algorithm and you end up paying through the nose. As noted before, inducing people to spend quickly and pinging those who do not is a sound business practice -- if not an endearing one.
On the other hand, it just seems downright wrong that you should be made to pay more for a baseball game because it's a "great day for baseball." It seems exploitative that you should be made to cough up extra dollars when Tim Lincecum is on the mound; will we be given a deep discount when Zito is pitching or Pablo Sandoval takes a day off? Further following the airline model, will we be charged extra for using the restroom? Do clean seats cost more? Do I have to pay extra to stay out of the all-felon, all-drunk, all-jerks talking loudly about work on their iPhone section?
I can understand why the same seats that cost $5 vs. Pittsburgh will run you five times that when Boston comes to town (or more, if it's a really nice day and Lincecum ends up taking on Josh Beckett). But the notion of "premium game pricing" sends fans an unmistakable message. It means "premium" teams visit AT&T Park, but the home squad is not one of them.
Finally, the notion of "dynamic" pricing feels so wrong because it completely upsets the "Hey! Let's go out to a game!"-notion that makes baseball unique. Among professional sports, only baseball is still priced at a level that makes spontaneity possible. No, you can't ditch the car in Little Hollywood, buy a sandwich at Piccolo Pete's, walk a mile, and score bleacher tickets for $3.75 anymore. That rose-hued nostalgia is fading fast. But toting a sandwich into AT&T Park and buying view reserve or bleacher tickets really is affordable for the everyman.
Hey, it still might be -- so long as the weather's lousy, the pitching matchup stinks, and the team's hopelessly out of the race. Go Giants!