Ticket-pricing warning for sports leagues in the coronavirus era
Last week a wire service carried the woeful story of free-agent Seattle defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Having made $51 million his first four years in the NFL, his next deal could be for a few million less.
Depressing? I’m still disconsolate.
But misery loves company. Since the coronavirus outbreak, Seattle has suffered the largest leap in unemployment in the nation — more than 24,000 people, an increase of 87 percent.
That set me to thinking. “Disposable income” in Seattle for the next couple of years isn’t going to be very disposable, for the NFL Seahawks and MLB Mariners.
“Dynamic Pricing” Mariners’ tickets last season, based on their opponent and SQ — sucker quotient — went for a high of $1,200 per ticket per game to a low of $22. I’m guessing that if any kind of home season begins for the M’s this year, the high will be closer to $22 as few, if any, are going to reach for a couple of grand or even hundreds to take their family to a ballgame.
The average ticket to a Seahawks game was $248.
Last year months before the virus, total NFL and MLB attendance was the lowest in over a decade.
This season, with money and jobs lower than at any time in recent memory, attendance will be further diminished, and likely a lot further diminished at sustained ticket pricing, parking and concessions.
Consider that new Yankee Stadium, since it opened in 2009, regularly produces embarrassing TV pictures showing nearly all the best seats empty as a matter of conspicuous, untreated, shameless greed — even if the Yanks’ broadcasters last season pretended, for an 11th consecutive season, that we couldn’t see what we couldn’t miss.
In other words, unless radical, practical, common sense ticket-pricing structures are adopted, bad will grow far worse. And as more and more customers are virus-conditioned to live without, diminishing returns will be an annual condition.
The virus all-clear whistle is not going to signal a mad rush back to the ballparks and arenas, not with an estimated 30 million now unemployed.
Anyway, I don’t know how he expects to do it, but Jadeveon Clowney is hoping for upward of $20 million per season, but he might have to settle for a reported offer from Seattle of “just” $18.5 million. But if MLB, the NBA, the NFL and NHL believe that people are going to keep digging deep into freshly emptied pockets — keep taking patrons for granted — they’re delusional.
A-Rod-Hooten breakup never got juicy attention
Still mind-blowing that the prestigious Paley Center for Media, recently and for no given reason except that he was a “star baseball player,” would select infamous cheat and liar Alex Rodriguez to its board of directors.
Further, reader Richard Garrity reminds us that lost in all of Rodriguez’s inexplicable and almost immediate post-baseball, post-scandal rewards — including primary positions on ESPN and Fox MLB telecasts — is that episode in which Rodriguez essentially was fired from a charity.
In 2003, Taylor Hooton, the cousin of former MLB pitcher Burt Hooton and the son of educators, was a promising and popular 17-year-old high school athlete. He hung himself, having become unhinged by sudden and steady use of steroids.
In Houston, The Taylor Hooton Foundation to warn against and combat steroid use among teens, was thus formed, by Hooton’s father, Don.
The foundation’s most notable, center-stage, pose-for-pictures, talk-the-talk participant was Alex Rodriguez, already busted once for juicing but not yet known to be among the sports world’s most financially enriched, dishonest phonies. Rodriguez even appeared at a news conference to extol the Hooton Foundation in a solemn, soulful, media-celebrated session.
Then, early in 2013, the BioGenesis steroids scandal led to Rodriguez being banned from baseball for 211 games.
This placed Don Hooton in what he called an “awkward” position.
But this was Rodriguez’s second bust for juicing, and soon he and the Hooton Foundation just separated — no news conference, no TV cameras, no photos and in too many cases, no memories of his betrayal.
N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James has called on all major cable TV and satellite programming providers to reduce fees — as high as $20 per month — for sports until live sports returns.
This shouldn’t be hard yet will be portrayed by the companies as impossible. Whatever the systems charge the programmers or directly charge the public for sports networks, apply the price to a refund or credit in ensuing bills backdated to early March. Even allow them to keep, say, two bucks per household to cover administrative fees. That’s still millions of dollars per month for providing next to nothing.
If the systems and programmers continue to charge one another for nothing, that’s for them to fix, not for us to pay for — or they’d fix it.
Among MSG’s four networks two regularly provide — even in pre-virus days years — mostly blank screens. MSG should be AG James’ first target.
‘Win rate’ doesn’t rate any clarity
Saturday, as only ESPN could, ESPN reported that the 49ers acquired offensive tackle Trent Williams from Washington. ESPN added that Williams has “a 92.3 Pass Block Win Rate.”
Hmmm. If that’s good, why did they dump him? If it’s bad, why did the Niners want him?
But because context rarely matters on ESPN, it was left unreported that Williams didn’t play last season due to contract/medical issues that made his 92.3 Pass Block Win Rate for a 7-9 2018 team extra non-news.
Reader Vin Curtin alerted us to MLB Network’s replay of the Mel Allen-narrated “This Week in Baseball,” a sensational first half-inning from an April 13, 1985, Phillies-Astros game.
Rookie Astros starter Ron Mathis allowed the first two Phillies, Jeff Stone and Juan Samuel, to reach base via singles. Stone was then picked off second, then Samuel was picked off first. The next batter, Von Hayes, walked, but then was caught stealing!
Take it, Mel: “How ’bout that!?” Oh, and bring back that show!
Virus, Misc.: Reader Paul Van Arsdale notes ESPN’s virus-time documentary on the Bulls was proceeded by warnings that the episodes “Contain Mature Language.” Thus, he asks, “So those who don’t use profanity speak immature language?”
Virus Tips: I’m starting to learn sign language for the non-hearing and hearing-impaired from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily news conferences. The signers, who appear with the mayor, have begun to abridge their translations, shrug, sigh and read, “He said the same thing yesterday.”
Out of toilet paper? Try English muffins, but be sure to first defrost them. Cheap gags are the only ones I can afford.
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