I know, it’s a tricky proposal. The idea is to make money. You don’t make money by giving away your product. I get that. But, maybe long term it would make sense. Are they giving them away only to have them go unused? Are they not even giving them? Why wouldn’t they?
The ballpark is there, whether the seats are filled or not. Why not get the butts in the seats. Maybe those butts will buy a hot dog, or a jacket. Maybe those butts will become fans. Maybe it’s a snowball effect.
Having people in the stands makes the experience better for everyone else too. I was at Pittsburgh in an almost empty stadium earlier this year. It was creepy. It was sad. It was uncomfortable. I walked into the empty restroom, by the boarded up souvenir stands, past the closed concessions, and felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I could actually imagine that icky feeling being enough to keep people away. I bet it does, in some cases.
Having a full stadium also helps with ticket sales. When I was going to Pittsburgh, I knew I didn’t have to buy my ticket ahead of time. I could just walk up right before game time and get any seat I wanted. In Boston, I know I need to get that seat ASAP. So, I get a ticket way in advance, just to be safe. But, what if the weather wasn’t very good? Would I change my mind? If I have my ticket bought and paid for, I’ll tough it out. If I don’t have any money spent, might as well find something else to do. So, Boston sells more tickets just because they’re always sold out.
Which is the only real problem with giving away tickets. If you can get a ticket for free, why ever buy one? There are a couple ways around that. You could only give away the bad ones. Or you could do a buy one – get one sort of deal. Or, what about a short period where you can buy four season tickets for the price of one, and that offer will stand when you renew every year as long as you have the tickets? Say, one week, or one day, or first 200 people. Imagine if you could get three free season tickets. A family of four would have to consider it, right? The Pirates will be good again. Wouldn’t you want to get in now while the getting’s good? Or, four buddies could get them just by splitting the cost of one ticket. Not a bad deal. I know I’d do it. And that would help everyone.
It would get those butts in the seats, which would create a fan base, which would lead to more ticket sales, which would earn money, which would make the team better, which increases ticket sales onto eternity. It’s a perfect plan.
Unless, of course, these teams are already doing it.