As we’ve written about before here on Gwynntelligence, the single biggest benefit of buying Padres season tickets is the access to the flexible ticket trading program. This program allows you to trade your tickets value to obtain tickets for any other game. This flexibility ensures that none of your season tickets go to waste in the event you can’t make a game. At the point that you waste as few as 1-2 tickets for a 21 game package by no showing, you’ve given back all savings you got on the lower season ticket price per game. As I covered, the team is rolling back these benefits, starting by eliminating the program for new 21 game package customers – you know, that flurry of people that bought packs after the Kemp and Upton acquisitions. Mike Dee says to you:
Well, the assault on the program has continued, now affecting all season ticket holders. The team introduced three further devaluations of the program this season. The first requires trades to happen no more than 48 hours before first pitch. Last season it was 24 hours, the year before you could do a trade on gameday. Not that big of a deal, right? Wrong. I can’t count the number of times I was sitting at the office on a Tuesday and realized the project I was working on was going to require some late night work. Just hopped on Padres.com and swapped the ticket for a later game. Or I had multiple tickets and a friend bailed. No worries, just trade that ticket for a later game. No longer. All this will do is lead to more wasted tickets, more tickets sitting on Stubhub, and likely lower secondary market prices on tickets due to a spike in supply.
Second, and potentially more insidious, the Padres are making tickets you can do a flexible ticket trade for capacity controlled. In other words, if you’ve ever tried to use frequent flier miles to book a free flight, you quickly run into the issue of not being able to find an award flight to book. This is because most airlines allot a certain number of seats on each flight to award tickets. Once they’re gone, you’re out of luck. Now, instead of business class, think Upper Infield Box. The team is, for instance, allotting a set number of seats to be available to traders in each section. It’s difficult to see how this will play out because we haven’t seen the capacities offered yet, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find Friday and Saturday night
Finally, the team policy used to be that trades could commence as soon as single game tickets went on sale. This allowed members to snag seats before the “flurry” (remember this was during seasons that no one lined up for tickets) of single game purchases, ensuring that the organized and planning members that set a plan for trades could get the seats they wanted. This season, no trades were allowed until March, and those had to be submitted to the sales department so they could assign you a ticket at the game you wanted. A far cry from the purchase experience that allows you to pick your actual seat on the seat map (also what was offered to members in prior years). Starting April 1, traditional trades through the team ticket portal were opened up, although members now have the pick of the leftover seats.
I don’t personally get the benefit to the team. Those tickets are sold and booked as revenue as soon as the season tickets are sold. For a team that has a problem with out of town fans taking over the stadium, you’d think they’d want as many Padres fans to be at as many games as possible, both to obtain ancillary revenues on merchandise/concessions, and to actually cheer for the team. The only benefit I can brainstorm is that it helps single game ticket sales by keeping more space available for those customers.
This speaks to a larger issue of a Padres front office decision to attract single game customers at the expense of the most loyal fans, season ticket holders. Slashing major benefits that don’t carry a substantial cost to the team seems like a questionable move, especially considering the avalanche of new customers this season. This was the chance to wow them with how useful, fun and flexible season tickets are. Instead they are nickel and diming on member benefits – arguably the most important member benefit.
I said before that I cannot advise new customers to purchase the 21 game packages that don’t offer flexible ticket trading. At the time, I thought half and full season ticket packages were safe, but trade ticket capacity controls have the potential to sap the value of those packages as well. It’s also troubling long term that this program is being slowly dismantled and devalued, especially considering how valuable and beloved it was for members. Stubhub tickets are looking better and better.