When I happened to catch this story earlier this week on Cleveland.com, I can’t say I was surprised.  After the Indians fully implemented their dynamic pricing plan last season, I didn’t expect it to go away anytime soon.  Although I did question at one point last season whether or not it was suppressing attendance, it really doesn’t matter.  Despite the fact that the Indians had the third lowest attendance in the majors in 2013, that their attendance figures dropped overall from 2012, they managed to make more money.  In addition to the increased profits, more than 90% of season ticket holders retained their ticket plans for 2014.  The jokes about nearly empty ballparks are probably easier to take when you’re still making money.

So when single-game tickets go on sale to the general public on March 3 (you must register online for the sale in advance), it’s supposedly the lowest you’ll see prices this season.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Indians seem less concerned with walk-up crowds and would rather have more advanced sales.  I remember a number of years where I decided to go to a few games outside of my quarter season ticket plan, and purchased tickets as a walk-up at the last minute.  Unless you got there really early, you could expect to wait in a fairly decent sized line – especially if it was a nice evening.  You could always get a decent deal and a decent seat; the crowds of the 1990s haven’t been seen for a number of years.  I decided to do a walk-up purchase once or twice last season, and walk-up I did…even right before game time there was basically no line.  I was actually kind of shocked by the prices.  I sit in the outfield reserved, and in my ticket package games average about $21-$23 per game for most of the season.  That same general area on game day?  It was $45-$55 the two times I purchased tickets on the same day.

Since basically all teams are implementing this dynamic pricing structure (or will in the very near future), I don’t really hold it against the Indians for using it.  And hey, if they’re making more money with it then I’m sure it can be deemed a success.  One of the faults of last season, in my mind, was that it wasn’t really explained to the general public very well.  I saw a lot of people express either shock or confusion when they arrived at the park on game day, that felt like they were being bled dry.  I had an out-of-town Indians fan visiting on the spur of the moment, and they wanted to head to the game that night.  While they weren’t furious over the prices, they did jokingly remark that they hadn’t really spent that kind of money outside of a playoff game before.

Again though, the system benefits those that buy season ticket plans or purchase their tickets early.  My prices have been pretty consistent over the past few years, although they are giving less perks to the partial season ticket plan folks.  (For a few years, we managed to get extra opening day tickets and a set of club seats for a game tossed in for no additional cost).  We still pay considerably less money per game, particularly during the warmer summer months when prices spike.

It will be interesting to see what the 2014 attendance figures will look like.  Will they rise, as people ride the success of the 2013 season and the Wild Card appearance into 2014?  Or will the lack of activity this offseason drive numbers lower?  Or will none of those factors matter, and it’s just going to be what it’s going to be?  Fortunately (not that you’d know it from the weather outside) we’re just over a month away from finding out.


  • medfest says:

    They raised the ticket prices for our full season ticket plan minimally,so we’re not complaining.

    I can see the Indians’ logic in going to the dynamic pricing system.The old pricing system encouraged large walk up crowds,which the ticket office isn’t really prepared to handle(and people complain about that) and has led to the dreaded old Municipal Stadium mentality of “If it’s a nice day and a good game I can always get a good cheap seat” that led to underwhelming attendance then and now.They are trying to get away from the bad old days.

    We had a number of people come here and complain about prices last season and it was always the same thing.Well,there’s a sign right behind home plate visible for every pitch that says “Tribe Tickets-Buy Early and Save” ignore it at your own risk/cost.

    As far as attendance for this season,I’m on the record as proclaiming Cleveland a lousy sports town and nothing has happened to change my mind(92 wins less than 1.6 million show up?).Most people here go to “Events” they aren’t sports fans.I’ll be surprised if the Tribe tops 1.8 million in attendance.

    • Michael Hagesfeld says:

      As furious as I was at Indians fans last year for their complete lack of in-person support of the Indians, I don’t know if I’d go as far as all that. They had very good numbers in TV/radio ratings. I wonder if this dynamic pricing didn’t tamp down attendance during the playoff race – people who might have been convinced to come down for relative cheap seats not willing to shell out the big bucks to bring down the family. This is something affecting sports throughout all leagues – with better TV coverage, the advantage of Being There is diminished.

      Yes, this is and will always be a Browns Town. There’s nothing (outside of the perfect storm of the mid 90s of no Browns and great Indians) that will change that. But saying it isn’t a sports town isn’t necessarily true.

      • Sean Porter says:

        I can’t remember which writer on here said this last season, but he or she is dead on concerning Cleveland as a sports town: It’s a great football town, but not a great sports town in general.

        That, and I’m convinced the Indians will never draw well again unless they win a World Series or the Dolans sell the team. That being said, dynamic pricing is a rip off, a complete slap to the face of baseball fans who god forbid don’t know what their plans will be on a random Tuesday night three months from now.

  • adam says:

    I agree with the above post. People will show up for opening day; perhaps some good fireworks etc. But for a good pitching matchup or just to support the team? No way! I agree team will be bottom 4 in attendance no matter how good they do. It also stinks that all the team shops are gone; well atleast the one at summit mall and north canton. So I will no longer be able to purchase tix for games without paying those ridiculous online fees ;(

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    From what I heard, they planned to close all of the regional mall team shops. I guess the reason that they gave was that people used them primarily to buy tickets, and not merchandise. Therefore, it wasn’t worth the rent they were paying on the mall space. I enjoyed going to them and will miss them, but unfortunately those are the breaks.

  • medfest says:

    The team shops were nice and getting tickets there was the smart way to go.It’s a shame they’re closing but mall square footage prices are through the roof.
    Maybe Drug Mart will step in,they’re already a big advertising buyer and they do Monsters and Cavs tickets and they had the Tribe ten game plan last year.

    Forcing people to pay Ticketmaster fees will really retard attendance and rightfully so.

  • Glenn says:

    This new “dynamic pricing” scheme really irks me. I used to have a 20-game plan, but so many games turned out to be on bad-weather days or during a long losing streak or after the team was well out of contention. So I decided to go to a game when I felt like it – maybe on a beautiful summer night, or when the team was on a roll, or there was a great pitching matchup. So now I am penalized by paying double? Forget it! I’m not spending hundreds of dollars on a partial season ticket, nor will I pay extra high prices if I decide to go to a game on the spur of the moment. They’ve effectively cut me out of the picture.

  • Michael Hagesfeld says:

    It’s an interesting conundrum from both sides. I tend to be a last-minute buyer, so to that effect I hate the dynamic pricing. But I understand that the Indians find it useful in guaranteeing sales. I do wonder, though, if ti helped keep attendance down when the Indians WERE in contention at the end fo th eyar last year, if people decided it wasn’t worth the huge game-day prices to come down and support the team.

  • adam says:

    In a market like this which is small for pro baseball anyways but not just small but not exactly full of wealthy people either. If you price gouge them then most like me will still love the Tribe……but love them from their couch for free. There 81 home games why should I buy ahead of team when NE Ohio weather is at best 50 50 of being crappy or rainy?