Back in February, the Yankees announced a new ticketing policy that enraged plenty of fans, banning fans from using any print-at-home tickets to enter the game. They did this under the guise of security and fan experience, but that was just a thinly veiled attempt at hiding their real battle with StubHub. The Yankees were not happy that StubHub was allowing fans to resale tickets under face value. Unfortunately for the team’s PR department, the problems didn’t stop there when COO Lonn Trost decided to share his takes on the new policy.
"The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money. It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount."
Trost’s comments sparked fan outrage as not only did he not apologize for the inconvenience, but he made matters worse by insulting the fan base and giving credence to the notion that the Yankees are an elitist team.
A few days later, however, Yankees president Randy Levine came out and said they were willing to work with StubHub to reach a resolution and end the battle. At the time, it seemed like Levine was just blowing hot (h)air; now it seems like that’s not the case.
Late Sunday night, Darren Rovell of ESPN broke some pretty surprising news regarding their frequently discussed ticketing policy.
Source: Yankees & StubHub to announce landmark deal tomorrow. Will take place immediately. Undo current Ticketmaster resale deal w/team.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 26, 2016
At first, I was admittedly excited. The Yankees did something to actually help the fans. They have a reputation for only caring about money, but maybe this one time they listened to the fans.
The Yankees then released an official press release to announce the deal and make it official. This was it, the Yankees ended their absurd battle and all was well in the world. That is until this line crept in out of nowhere:
The New York Yankees introduced a mobile ticket system this year, and the agreement with StubHub will adhere to the existing mobile ticket policy. All tickets delivered will be mobile. Tickets will operate on both iOS and Android devices. Users can post hard stock tickets, but upon being sold, all will be converted to mobile format.
So they ended the battle, but still did nothing to address the biggest issue with the new policy in the first place. Print-at-home tickets make it easy to for fans to purchase tickets at the last minute and still conveniently attend the game. Limiting that to just mobile presents a few problems.
The biggest issue with the policy is that not everyone has smartphones. Sure they’re quite common now, and while they’ve become easier and more convenient to get, not everyone has them. There is still a large population out there that simply cannot afford smartphones. Resolving the feud with StubHub, but still being stubborn about this policy shows that their elitist ways have not changed. Surely the Yankees cannot allow someone who cannot afford a premium ticket or a premium phone sit with someone who checks both of those categories.
There’s also a large population of people that just don’t want smartphones. Two of my own friends still have flip phones for the sheer simplicity of them. They don’t want their lives to be consumed by their phones and not owning a device that promotes this lifestyle is the first step in avoiding that problem.
Then there are also fans like me. I’ve owned a smartphone since the Droid X was released in 2010. However, I still prefer actual physical tickets, and if those aren’t an option (for instance purchasing tickets within a day or so of an event) I prefer print-at-home tickets. I’m personally a sucker for random memorabilia. I like to keep tickets from events I go to, especially big ones.
I have my tickets from my first Yankees game, I have my tickets from Mariano Rivera’s final game, and I have my tickets from Derek Jeter’s last game (technically it was his last home game but I don’t care). Now if I couldn’t afford to get tickets until the day of or simply wasn’t able to, I have no way of preserving these memories. Sure, it’s probably helping me reduce clutter, but I can’t just pull out a random box of memories to go on a nostalgia trip now and that feels wrong. For a team that loves to brag about its history and takes full advantage of nostalgia, this seems counter-intuitive.
There’s also the technical issues to worry about. Batteries can die, there can be a slow internet connection, the machines that scan the tickets could break down; the list goes on forever. I work in technology, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that technology cannot and should not be relied upon. What if someone was able to get into the game, then left to spend way too much money at the concessions and in that whole time his or her phone died? If there’s a person checking tickets at the section, how is that person going to get back to his or her seats? Coming back with a drink in one hand and food in the other? Not the Yankees’ problem. The Yankees don’t care. They want to keep their elitist ways, and this is just one more way of doing that.
That’s not to say there aren’t any positives of this. It’s clearly good for fans that the Yankees are working directly with StubHub, the site where the best resale deals can usually be found. Prior to this, fans would still be able to purchase tickets on StubHub, but would either have to order the tickets far enough in advance to get them in the mail or go to the StubHub office (which will now be closing as a result of this partnership) before the game and have tickets printed at that location. Obviously avoiding this step will help eliminate an unnecessary step for people. Yet that seems to be the only apparent benefit of this deal.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for them to get rid of the mobile ticket system. I think the fans should be given the option to choose what’s more convenient for them. I fail to see any real reason for not allowing print-at-home tickets and that’s the truth. There’s no real reason the Yankees can’t allow fans to choose between mobile tickets or print-at-home tickets. They claim it’s to ensure added security, but really it’s just added scrutiny.