Guest Post: Secondary Market for the 2013 MLB Season

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger David Simmons.mlb-logo

As the season begins and fans everywhere are buying tickets I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the secondary market for all 30 MLB teams to see what it means for you the fan.

I requested data from SeatGeek showing all 30 teams total inventories listings. From there to get a better idea I used a 2.6 ticket per listing multiplier as SeatGeek recommends using 2.5 tickets per listing and Ticketmaster sells 2.7 tickets per sale. I then took the total tickets available on the secondary market and put them into FSE (Full Season Equivalent) counts to get the average tickets available per game to get better idea of what was on the market compared to last year’s average sales by team.

The goal of all teams is to maximize its season sales while protecting it fans from what can sometimes be a predatory secondary market. “Why buy season tickets?” is question asked throughout the industry and the growth of the secondary market helps fuel the discussion. It’s important to note that naked short selling is now common practice in MLB secondary markets and therefore data might be skewed higher due to this practice and due to double-posting of tickets as well.

Teams face a predicament when it comes to selling to bulk buyers, speculators, and brokers. Depending upon the market, there are two schools of thought. Sell anything and everything you can to boost your season ticket totals which protects you from poor team play but can come back to bite you if the market is flooded leaving a minimal individual primary market. Or team’s can cut off these buyers like the Angels to focus their efforts on the protecting the individual sales by curtailing efforts on the season side to produce a higher yield on week of and day of game sales. Selling season tickets can sometimes just be “robbing Peter to pay Paul” as you are just moving revenue from individual to season due to the growth of the secondary market. This is why pricing your tickets initially and using dynamic pricing is so important to MLB teams.

For the time being, the data presented below is the best overall snapshot we can find on the secondary market. What does the SeatGeek data tell us? The Dodgers, Giants, Tigers, Angels and Yankees are top 5 in volume all with over 600,000 tickets on the secondary market led by the Dodgers with 1,027,676 tickets for the 2013 season.  How high is that? If you add up all tickets on the secondary market in Oakland, Arizona, Houston, San Diego, Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, and Toronto it’s still less than the Dodgers. Worth reminding everybody that the Dodgers have the highest season ticket base in all of MLB at 31,000 per Team President Stan Kasten and the largest stadium of 56,000 so the volume should not come as a surprise. The Dodgers sales team has outsold 17 MLB teams 2012 overall attendance teams in just season tickets this year. They also have the highest percentage of tickets on the secondary market in relation to their overall sales.

Other teams that will be challenged to sell individual tickets besides the Dodgers (31%) this season due to high levels of secondary market activity and season tickets in years to come are Giants (26%), Tigers (26%), and Nationals (25%). It’s important to note the Dodgers and Tigers use variable pricing, but the Nationals and Giants use dynamic pricing to better protect their primary markets. This helps them when prices fluctuate to keep the dollars flowing into the team rather than the secondary market. The teams with the least amount of tickets on secondary in comparison to their overall sales volume are the Cubs (12%), Twins (9%), Phillies (11%), Brewers (9%), and Cardinals(12%). These teams all sell 34,000 tickets plus a game but find that only a handful windup on the secondary market. The Athletics, Diamondbacks, Astros, Padres and Indians have the lowest volume on the secondary market.

So what does this mean to you as a fan? If you live in a market that does not use dynamic pricing and has large quantities of tickets on the secondary market you might be better off buying off the secondary market to save a few bucks. On the other hand buying a season ticket can offer you plenty of amenities you won’t get if you just buy your games off the secondary market including guaranteed postseason tickets and a large discount. To see where your team falls check out the full data below. It’s worth noting that I used 2012 sales AVG for my analysis. Teams like the Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Nationals have had huge strides sales and therefore their secondary market percentages will be overstated until we have 2013 data to benchmark it against. All data is via SeatGeek from March 21, 2013.

 

MLB Team

Total Tix

FSE

2012 AVG

% on Secondary

Los Angeles Dodgers

1027676

12687

41,040

30.91%

San Francisco Giants

887377

10955

41,695

26.27%

Detroit Tigers

777720

9601

37,383

25.68%

Washington Nationals

604726

7466

30,010

24.88%

Los Angeles Angels

699358

8634

37,799

22.84%

Chicago White Sox

385351

4757

24,271

19.60%

Boston Red Sox

570313

7041

37,567

18.74%

New York Yankees

650842

8035

43,733

18.37%

Cincinnati Reds

414414

5116

28,978

17.66%

Tampa Bay Rays

259665

3206

19,255

16.65%

Baltimore Orioles

353621

4366

26,610

16.41%

Colorado Rockies

430695

5317

32,474

16.37%

Atlanta Braves

374514

4624

29,878

15.48%

Texas Rangers

523240

6460

42,719

15.12%

Kansas City Royals

256708

3169

21,748

14.57%

Pittsburgh Pirates

292451

3611

26,148

13.81%

Chicago Cubs

357802

4417

35,589

12.41%

St. Louis Cardinals

382837

4726

40,272

11.74%

Seattle Mariners

198409

2449

21,258

11.52%

Philadelphia Phillies

376243

4645

44,021

10.55%

Toronto Blue Jays

214646

2650

25,921

10.22%

New York Mets

225774

2787

28,035

9.94%

Minnesota Twins

263450

3252

34,275

9.49%

Milwaukee Brewers

247265

3053

34,955

8.73%

Cleveland Indians

106730

1318

19,797

6.66%

Houston Astros

103982

1284

19,848

6.47%

San Diego Padres

105830

1307

26,218

4.98%

Miami Marlins

108919

1345

27,400

4.91%

Oakland Athletics

78814

973

20,728

4.69%

Arizona Diamondbacks

98236

1213

26,884

4.51%