Here on Gwynntelligence, we’ve been closely monitoring the Padres front office systematic assault and devaluation of the 21 game season ticket package. The removal of the flexible ticket trade for 21 game packages nearly guts all value of the season ticket package, making it an inflexible burden at times. But along the way, 21 game members could hang their hats on two remaining benefits of the package: the ability to buy additional tickets at the non-dynamic pricing inflated base price, and the fact that they would presumably have access to guaranteed 2016 All Star Game tickets. In fact, at the time of the 2016 ASG announcement by MLB and the Padres, the Jonathan Horn at the Union-Tribune wrote: “If you want first dibs on tickets to the 2016 All Star Game at Petco Park, recent history says it’s a safe bet to buy a Padres season ticket package of at least 20 games for this season and next.”
Well, times have changed. The Padres announced today that Blue memberships, the 21 game packages, were NOT eligible for guaranteed 2016 ASG tickets. The team attempted to deflect blame to MLB by saying “tickets for the entire weekend are controlled by MLB and as a result of inventory demand, at this point in time, only Platinum and Gold Members are guaranteed the opportunity to purchase tickets.” Yes, reading this on face, you’d think those meanies in the MLB headquarters are taking the guaranteed tickets from the 21 game members. And yes, MLB controls inventories, but let’s do a comparative analysis of what the Padres are offering and what the last two All Star Game hosts are offering to their season ticket holders:
Minnesota, 2014 Host: 20 and 40 game season ticket holders were guaranteed 2 All Star Game strips (the package of All Star Game events), regardless of how many seats they had a package for. This means if you have 1 seat, you got 2 guaranteed strips, if you had 5 seats, you got 2 guaranteed strips. 81 game package holders were guaranteed the same number of seats they held packages for.
Cincinatti, 2015 Host: All 20 and 40 game season ticketholders that held packages in BOTH 2014 and 2015 were guaranteed ASG strips. 81 game package holders in BOTH 2014 and 2015 are guaranteed the same number of seats they held packages for.
As you can see, both of the last two hosts, restricted by the same MLB ticket availabilities, were able to guarantee ASG tickets to ALL of their season ticketholders. Here’s the Padres policy:
San Diego, 2016 Host: All Gold and Platinum (half and full season packages) members in BOTH 2015 and 2016 are guaranteed to purchase ASG strips in the same number as they have seats in their package. Blue (21 game package holders) members are entered into a lottery for any leftover seats, if there are any. I’m not counting on that lottery yielding much.
OK, so you bought a 21 game package and feel cheated because you’d assumed the Padres would be consistent with other All Star Game hosts and honor their most committed customers, the season ticket holder base. Well you were wrong. The Padres think you 21 game members are cheapo zilches, and treat you accordingly. But don’t worry, the team is giving you an opportunity to upgrade your 2015 account to Gold or Platinum no later than July 1, which you can then also renew at the same level so you’ll be eligible for 2016 ASG strips. HOW GENEROUS!
As someone that analyzes documents with a legal eye for a living, I also picked up on the Padres usage of “at this point in time” denoting that they left themselves an out to expand the pool of eligible buyers. My guess, supported by a Tweeted opinion/mildly educated guess by Jay Posner, is that new Gold/Plat customers, possibly with a commitment to buy into 2017 as well, will be offered some type of guaranteed access to 2016 ASG strips as well. It should be noted that in ensuing conversations on Twitter with Padres Chief Marketing Officer Wayne Partello, he stated “Today’s announcement is about what is guaranteed at this point in time.” Yup, there’s that phrase again, at this point in time. Clearly more guarantees are coming. Posner speculated that it may make sense to just sign up 2016 Gold/Plat as a new member to obtain 2016 ASG guaranteed strips, as the Padres are leaving enough bread crumbs behind to ascertain that something of that nature is coming.
Without further comment from the Padres, it doesn’t seem there is much incentive to upgrade your 2015 packages now to Gold/Plat. It would make more sense to buy a new Gold/Platinum package for 2016 to obtain those ASG strips.
In the end, this is another assault on the 21 game membership package. With no ticket trade, no guaranteed 2016 All Star Game strips, and reduced concession discounts, most of the value of the 21 game package is kaput. You are left with the savings on additional tickets due to being able to buy those tickets at the non-dynamic pricing inflated base prices. As I’ve learned over the years, outsized deals like the ability to buy non-dynamic pricing inflated base priced tickets tend to disappear. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to apply the season ticket holder fixed discount rate to the inflated dynamic prices in their system, completely stripping the remainder of value from the package. The message continues that 21 game members don’t matter to this front office.