Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Season Tickets Conundrum

I’ve always been ambivalent about the idea of purchasing season tickets for a team’s games. I’ve done it before—in football, baseball and basketball, and in a way, as I’ll explain, golf. On the one hand it’s exciting to know you can see EVERY SINGLE HOME GAME your team plays. When the schedule comes out, you almost get goosebumps when you spot the games against your team’s key (or hated) rivals. This is going to be so much fun! In the case of baseball, it’s almost like your summer is all planned out for you.

And of course there is the status you can earn with your peer group when they find you have popped for the season tickets. You might even find you have more friends than you imagined…

One of my favorite experiences with baseball season tickets came when I was in high school. My father’s company purchased 8 season tickets—really good ones on the first base side only 6 rows up. His idea was to reward employees for good performance with the tickets. This worked great for about the first month of the season. But the team started off very badly and got worse from there. By July, he didn’t have many takers for the seats. Employees kept coming up with excuses why they couldn’t go to the games. He thought it looked bad that the company seats went unfilled so we ended up going to the games. This got old very quickly. By the end of August, when I saw another game on the calendar, it was like: not another baseball game! Couldn’t I stay home and mow the lawn? Or, you know, it’s really time I cleaned my room.

Next season, he didn’t renew the tickets.

Football season tickets were my favorite. There are only 8 regular season home games, and each one is truly an event to look forward to. The only drawback was late in the season in a northern climate, sitting out in the cold or rain or snow. With NFL games, they are normally sold out so there is a ready market for your seats if you can’t attend the game. Basketball season tickets I didn’t enjoy as much because the weekday games are at night and it can be difficult to get off work, grab dinner and make it to the arena by tipoff, especially if you had a long day and are tired. I recall dozing off several times in the fourth quarter of dull games. Luckily I don’t snore.

My experience with golf “season” tickets involved an entrepreneurial idea that went bad. I noticed the tournament had a VIP package you could purchase, 5 VIP passes, 15 daily tickets and parking passes. I had the bright idea that if I sold the tickets to my friends, and gave them a discount from the price you pay for an individual ticket, I could make a profit of over $150. Not bad. Until the first two days of the tournament were rained out, no one wanted the tickets, and I took about a $350 loss. Oh well. It was still a good idea, in the concept stage.

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