by Glenn Clark/Pressbox If you’re a Ravens season ticketholder, you received a note this week from Ravens senior vice president of ticket sales and operations, Baker Koppelman, about the future of ticket prices.
For most fans, the only takeaway from the letter that really mattered was that their ticket prices would not change. The rest of the letter came off as minutiae — explaining a new “variable pricing” policy that doesn’t much seem to matter.
The long and the short of it? The Ravens (perhaps inspired by feelings of “The Bern”) are essentially “redistributing” ticket prices moving forward. They’ve marked down preseason ticket prices by 50 percent, while raising the cost of regular-season tickets by (approximately) 12 percent. That number is almost certainly actually more like 12.5 percent, and since I somehow had Mr. Radcliffe as a teacher for like six different math classes at Perry Hall High School, I can figure out that two preseason games at 50 percent off are equaled out by eight regular-season games at 12.5 percent more.
(It all equals to 100 percent. Congratulations. You can now more on to Algebra II.)
Disingenuous as it may be, the Ravens claim in the letter that they’ve heard fans’ complaints about having to pay full price for preseason tickets “loud and clear.” Of course, I don’t imagine much of anyone’s complaints were stated as “yeah, it’s ridiculous that we have to pay full price for the preseason games. Oh, and another thing — these regular-season tickets are just too darn cheap!”
Yeah. The Ravens claiming they “met that expectation” in terms of fans wanting preseason tickets to not cost as much as regular-season games is, at best, not fully truthful but much more likely deceptive. It will make fans believe the team has done them a favor, when in reality, nothing has actually changed. It would be akin to my wife telling me she’s heard my complaints about having to wake up early on Sunday mornings to take care of the baby when it’s my only day to sleep in, only to say “that’s why instead of having to get up at 6 a.m. I’m going to let you sleep in until 10. Oh, but I also need you to stay up until 5 a.m. with the baby on Saturday nights.”
What’s concerning is that you can’t help but wonder if “variable pricing” (which the Ravens point out, rightfully, is a standard practice in ticketing) is being introduced now in order to make future ticket cost changes more palatable. If prices can be variable between preseason and regular-season games, why couldn’t they be different in the future between division games and non-division games? “No, we’re not raising season-ticket costs this year. But we will be enacting ‘variable pricing’ for the Steelers, Bengals and Browns games — those tickets will be about 10 percent more.”
Some of you probably think this is a bit of a cynical response to an otherwise innocuous announcement. That’s not unfair. My experiences as a ticket-buyer in my life have left me little more than cynical about the process. I always assume the worst. In fact, my gut tells me that since they aren’t announcing any price increase this time around, there’s probably instead a new $40 “variable pricing” surcharge per ticket. That’s how infuriating the ticket industry is.
So is there anything good that comes from this? I’ve heard the argument that it’s good for the resale of tickets. Ticket owners are more likely to be able to sell their preseason tickets because they believe they can recoup the value of the ticket itself. Perhaps, in the past, someone would be less likely to part ways with an exhibition ticket because the most they could get back was $20 on a $72 value. If the ticket is only actually worth $36, parting ways for a $16 loss might be a tad easier to stomach.
Of course, a secondary ticket market flooded with more resale attempts of preseason tickets could mean that instead of someone being willing to pay $20 for your $72 ticket, they’re now only willing to pay you $5 because there are too many $36 tickets on the market.
Demand sets the value of the ticket — not what the Ravens tell you the ticket is worth. If the team is stumbling its way to the finish line of a 5-11 season with 15 players injured, saying the ticket is now worth $81 instead of $72 isn’t going to give you even the slightest of chances of getting $81 on the resale of your ticket.
And to think, I can figure all of that out despite the fact that my economics class was at 9 a.m., and I was usually too tired from partying the night before to make it there. OK, fine. I was too tired from staying up until 4 a.m. playing FIFA 2002 with my roommate and drinking Mountain Dew Code Red to make it there.
Enjoy variable pricing, Ravens fans. It’s far too harmless right now for you to care all that much about it. I’d venture a guess it won’t take more than 24 months before you do.