In a letter to season-ticket holders, the Wilpons wrote:
“Everyone at the Mets – our Ownership, GM Omar Minaya, Manager Jerry Manuel, the coaches, players, front office and staff – shares your disappointment with the 2009 season. You soon will hear from Ownership and Omar about how we plan to improve the ball club through a combination of player signings, trades, enhanced player development and continued commitment to one of the highest player payrolls in MLB.
We are currently finalizing our ticket pricing for 2010. Season Ticket prices will be reduced by an average of more than 10 percent, with several seating areas being adjusted by more than 20 percent. Every Season Ticket Holder invoice for 2010 will be less than 2009.”
More than TEN PERCENT???? And “several” seating areas reduced by more than TWENTY??? WOW !!!!!
Why does this news not excite me? Mainly because I stopped buying ticket packages three years ago, when the prices started to obnoxiously rise at a rate completely incongruous with my shrinking amount of disposable income. A 10-20% reduction drops the pricing structure from “impossible” to “way out of my budget”.
But that’s because the Mets increased ticket prices about 12% across the board after their last playoff appearance, raised them another 20% after the greatest collapse in MLB history, and of course raised them by astronomical proportions (in some cases, as much as 100%) for Citi Field’s inaugural season.
Dave Howard’s explanation for the 2008 raise in prices was this:
“We considered where we were in the marketplace. Our average ticket price is still the lowest among the nine major pro sports teams in the New York area,” Howard said Saturday. “Our payroll is among the highest in baseball. We put our resources back into the team. We tried to strike a balance.”
I never understood what the Mets’ Shea Stadium ticket pricing had to do with Knicks, Devils, Nets, and other teams that played half as many home games and had half as many seats available. And you can’t ever compare your ticket prices to the Yankees — unless you start spending like the Steinbrenners. But Howard needed some kind of stat to use to support his case.
The most recent letter from the organization promises sweeping changes in the offseason — indeed, we’ve already seen the firings of several key people in the front office and at the minor league levels. More should be on the way, but hopefully, this time, there will be some kind of plan in place — rather than change for the sake of change (please, no Art Howe moves this time!). The tidbit about “…continued commitment to one of the highest player payrolls in MLB” is intriguing — and ambiguous. Obviously they won’t be in the $200M range of the Yankees, but they can drop from their current $150M payroll to as low as $110M and still be among the highest budgets in MLB. For example, the Red Sox were at around $120M on Opening Day 2009, the Cubs at $135M, the Angels were at $114M, Phillies were at $113M, and the Dodgers started at $100M.
Prior to the 2009 season, the Detroit Tigers lowered ticket prices and raised their payroll. I don’t see that happening in Flushing. But if nothing else, it should be a newsworthy offseason.