If you've been listening to WFAN over the last couple of days, you've heard a lot of discussion about the way that the Yankees are treating longtime season ticket holders. Neil Best of Newsday wrote a good article covering the salient issues as well. People who have bought a variety of partial season ticket plans in the same seats for years have found themselves shuttled to the nether regions of the stadium, given plans for dates that they didn't want, or, in the case of Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus, offered seats more expensive than the ones they wanted in the first place.
There were bound to be hiccups in the process of moving from a 56,936-seat stadium to one that fits 52,325, especially when many of the new seats were reserved for luxury suites and assorted other "premium" options out of the reach of ordinary fans. What's surprising, though, is the attitude of the Yankees when it comes to fans who are upset about being given different seats than the ones they thought they were signing up for. Jaffe shares this message from the Yankees, and the emphasis was in the original.
"There can be no assurance that such assigned seat location or any other requested location and/or Plan will be available to you at a later date. Thus, we strongly suggest that Licensees accept their initial seat assignments because the demand for many Plans will definitely exceed the supply."
Don't like it? So what, pay us! Making matters worse is that every Yankee fan in New York has by now seen the advertisements and promotional materials designed to sell the glut of expensive seats that the team can't unload without the corporate support that they assumed would exist when they came up with the plan. The team itself acknowledges that they've got about 30 percent of their inventory available, but insist that the prices will not come down.
In 2008, their first season at a new stadium, the Washington Nationals often had wide swaths of empty seats close to the field because no one was buying those seats. The Yankees probably won't wind up having that problem, but they've chosen to play a dangerous game by alienating the most loyal fans in hopes of creating a luxury "experience" replete with steakhouses that obstruct views, a Hard Rock Cafe and other things that absolutely no one noticed were missing in the old stadium.
The Yankees aren't helping themselves by pointing out that their Stalinist "relocation guide" this winter outlined potential issues that could arise. Along with their strongarm sales tactics above, that doesn't do much to make you think that they respect or appreciate the money that you're spending on their product. They're right, problems were inevitable and people were going to get lost in the shuffle as a result. It would just be nice if they acted a little less like the Chinese government telling peasants to clear out of the way because there's a dam being built.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.