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    Thursday, June 20, 2024

    Yankee Stadium for four bucks? The fans have spoken

    There are good reasons sports fans think they’re powerless against the machine. The machine of networks setting start times at bed times. The machine of outrageous ticket prices. The machine of needing 20 channels and four streaming services to watch your favorite teams play. The machine of feeling worn out and priced out.

    Except that fans have never been more powerful, if they only exercise their prerogative to say a simple word: “no.”

    Enough Yankee fans said “no” this offseason to inspire offers of free tickets to some home games. Are Red Sox fans following? The Boston Globe reported earlier this week that more than 13,000 tickets remain for next Tuesday night’s home game with Cleveland, with box seats available on StubHub for under $50 apiece and bleacher seats in the single digits.

    The power of “no.”

    I have friends who have season ticket plans with the Yankees. They spoke frequently in the offseason about the frequency with which the Yanks reached out with ticket offers and deals, suggesting that last season’s moribund record and punchless offense led people to at least question whether they’d renew.

    The result: Tickets for Monday’s game at Yankee Stadium vs. Miami were advertised as low as $4 apiece (and lower level seats at $40) on StubHub. The game was to originally start at 2:05 p.m., but was moved to 6:05 to accommodate the eclipse. Still: hundreds of tickets throughout the ballpark for the cost of one of those venti grande pumpkin spice mocha cappuccino things at Starbucks.

    I’m accompanying my great friend, season ticket holder (and former ESPN/UConn women’s play-by-play man) Bob Picozzi to Yankee Stadium once in May and once in April for virtually nothing.

    “One of the first deals the Yankees offered was to buy two tickets to any game in April or May and get two comparable tickets for free to any other game in April or May,” Picozzi said. “So, I bought two for a total of $96 and we got two more free. Four of us are going (May 8 vs. Houston) and paying only $24 each.

    “The other one was to buy two grandstand tickets for a handful of specific dates in April, May and June for $12 each and get two more tickets to the same game for free. So we’re paying $24 for four seats to see Baltimore (in June).”

    To reiterate: The Yankees didn’t just get consumer friendly overnight. They simply reacted to an annoyed fan base that sent them a clear message.

    Fans of the Red Sox should take note. The best way for them to convey their disgust for a comatose front office is to stay home. Stop showing up at “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” Empty seats speak louder than Paul from Revere and Isaac from Newton calling Felger and Mazz and screaming about it.

    “We know people are upset and, from a marketing standpoint, we are not here to change people’s attitudes from the offseason,” Adam Grossman, the chief marketing officer for the Red Sox, told the Boston Globe earlier this week.

    “We’re not going to talk them out of something that they feel. What we are going to do is continue to do the things that we know are important in terms of marketing the players, in terms of putting them in a position where fans know them on the field and off the field and create Fenway Park as an attraction — and also know that sometimes in the offseason those negative vibes do not always carry through on the field and to the end of the season.”

    Translation: They’re going to prey on the fans’ tendencies to view Fenway as a destination, especially the younger ones who view Fenway as a night out and not necessarily patronizing a product that’s finished last in three of the last four years.

    Per the Globe, “the Red Sox spent a great deal of time at spring training recording material for assorted social media and in-stadium feeds. Younger players less known to fans are far more comfortable enhancing their brands with social media than their veteran teammates, and the team is encouraged by the increase in social media engagement.

    “Those folks will still flock to Fenway Park to mingle in the stands and on the video boards at an expanding array of discount ticket offerings, theme nights, and cultural identity days.”

    Grossman told the Globe the team is “a little bit behind” in overall ticket sales than it was at this point last year. As late as last Friday, more than 3,000 tickets still remained for the home opener, which did sell out Tuesday. But the midweek home games in April and May have plenty of good seats available.

    The Globe’s Human Comments Section didn’t appear to buy the marketing plan. Among the gems:

    • “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. How about lowering the prices on the pig?”

    • “They know puffery and lipstick won’t fool anyone. I think they count on it, ‘fooling’ people, that is. They know Fenway is a tourist attraction and people go to sing that song. The product on the field is not a priority for many ticket buyers. Glad they’ve spent the money on a mass marketing team instead of quality veteran players.”

    • "Learn to tune out the noise? That means tune us all out!!! That is downright disrespectful. Do what you want folks but, as a lifelong Sox fan (near 70), I will be tuning them out like they tune me out. I will not be attending any games and not subscribing to the network again. I couldn't be more disgusted.”

    • “The marketing department refers to fans as ‘noise to be tuned out.’ Their tone is deaf and they have a complete lack of understanding about the Red Sox building a relationship with fans. At first, I thought it was a joke, but then I realized it was a sad reality. The marketing department is probably a bunch of 20-year-olds who have never held a real job and come to work in knit hats and jeans with holes in them drinking their venti macchiato.”

    I maintain that the football Giants were lousy from 1964-80 because whatever home stadium they had — Yankee Stadium, Yale Bowl and the “new” Giants Stadium (1976) — was always full and had a waiting line for season tickets. What motivation is there to improve when your pockets are stuffed? Same with the Knicks, who haven’t won anything for quite some time — and yet Madison Square Garden has been full since the days Archie told Edith to stifle.

    But it turns out that the boring Yankees summer of 2023 has resulted in some boffo deals for 2024. Might that apply to the Sox of 2025? The best way to guarantee it: Stay away, Sox fans. Say no. Hit ‘em in the wallet. It always works.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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