You’ve heard of teams going with variable pricing or last-minute gameday pricing, but you’ve never heard of teams asking fans to name their price.
That is until this week, when the Florida Panthers announced their “Perfect Plan.”
Pick a place in the arena where you want season tickets.
Take a look at the retail price. Then, just like Priceline, name your price. Within 24 hours, the team will get back to you to tell you if it was accepted or not.
The promotion is going for 10 days and it’s only 24 hours in. So far, team president Michael Yormark told me about 50 season tickets have been sold this way — just as many fan proposals have been predictably rejected.
The idea is smart because it gets fans who wouldn’t normally call a team to do so. It also gets teams thinking about what the minimum price they’d be willing to accept to get all the other ancillary revenue — parking, concessions and merchandise — that they are normally leaving on the table.
"The argument against going as low as you could go has always been that you’d price yourself so low that you’d devalue your product."
Yormark called this program an “investment,” which I think is a clever way of looking at it. He mentioned to me that each new fan was worth something beyond just how much they pay for the ticket and food. That fan is also worth something to the sponsors. More eyeballs at the arena means more eyeballs for sponsor signage, which allows Yormark to rationalize higher pricing at that level.
The argument against going as low as you could go has always been that you’d price yourself so low that you’d devalue your product. Yormark says that theory doesn’t work in sports because the product isn't the same every year.
“The Heat were selling five dollar seats last season,” Yormark said. “Less than a year later, they’re the hottest ticket in the league.”
So will this “Name Your Price” idea catch on?
There’s one big problem that I foresee. You only net out a greater crowd if you have enough areas in the arena that doesn’t touch many of the season ticket holders who are paying the retail price.
Season tickets don’t work like airlines where people accept that they might have paid more for a similar seat than the guy next to them. If season ticket holders figure out that they’re being compromised, the team might lose them at the expense of the new fan. And given that the one paying retail is the more loyal fan, that’s probably not a good swap to make.
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