The Padres released a new ticket package, presumably to woo potential customers that enjoyed the flexibility that the team removed from the 21 game season ticket packages. The basic premise is that you can pay up front for a set number of tickets, decide you want to go to a game, and the Padres IT infrastructure will assign you a mystery seat location two hours before the game. The concept is very interesting. The Padres get your money and commitment up front, then get to unload some unsold inventory, and presumably, the customer gets a deal on a seat in exchange for having no say about where they sit. As I’ve written about before, I was a loyal season ticketholder, both half and quarter season packages, until Mike Dee and the front office removed flexible ticket trading, which to me, was the most important element of the package. So this Flex Pass should theoretically appeal to me.
Here are the basics on cost:
$200 for 8 games ($25.00 per flex ticket)
$360 for 16 games ($22.50 per flex ticket)
$480 for 24 games ($20.00 per flex ticket)
So there is somewhat of a bulk discount if you buy 24 games. The 24, and really the 16 game package, serve as nice supplementary products for the traditional 21 game package which I was told by Padres sales personnel was selling VERY poorly this season. The key question is whether the Flex algorithm defaults to placing customers into the best available seats, which would be the best for customers, or if it defaults into some other placement. The other question is if there is potential that you’d actually be placed into a seat that cost LESS than the flex ticket price. In this scenario, customers would be better off just going to the secondary market or padres.com to buy that ticket for a lower price. I went to the source, Wayne Partello:
So Flex placement is not best available. You will not be flexed into Omni Premier Club from your Flex ticket for instance. The most interesting part is that the algorithm CAN place you into a seat cheaper than the cost of the flex ticket. Wayne specifically called out Park at the Park as an option, which if you bought the 8 game package, would have you LOSING up to $10 from the flex ticket price. They could also place you into the cheap seats in Upper Reserved or Upper Infield, where you’d be losing up to $7-10 dollars on the ticket from the Flex price. But hey, there might be upside, right? Well… Partello was nice enough to give us the upper limits of how good of a “deal” you can get from the flex ticket price. In this case, that limit is that your discount off the seat you are flexed in, meaning the difference between your Flex ticket price and the cost of the seat they flex you into “won’t be more than any member discount”. As someone who’s heard the pitch for season tickets many times, I can tell you that the applicable discount number is 15%. What’s this mean? That the max value of the ticket you COULD be flexed into is 15% higher than what you pay for your flex ticket. As an example:
$25 + (.15 x $25) = $28.75
This is not huge savings. Especially when you factor in that it’s possible, and I’d say on weekends, likely that you get flexed into the cheap seats, which could potentially be an overpay of as much as 66.66% beyond what you’d pay for the single game ticket (and this is ignoring the secondary market, where with the #AccidentalLuhnow in full effect, you’ll find that prices are falling quick).
The Padres use the selling point (which the U-T article on the subject just parroted without providing any analysis): “Tickets can be upgraded by clicking the upgrade button in the… MLB.com Ballpark app”. This is true. But the U-T and Padres failed to mention that the upgrades aren’t free. If you check before games, you’ll find upgrades (they went up in price this season about 25%) cost an additional $13 to $20 on top of what you paid for the ticket. At that point, you might as well just buy an Omni club ticket for $40 on Seatgeek. Also, it should be noted that the real best value is to buy the absolute cheapest ticket you can find from any source and upgrade it in the Ballpark App yourself.
So, the concept is cool. I like flexibility. But not at any price. The Padres are basically offering the old 21 game package that offered flexible ticket trading, in smaller increments of tickets, but without all of the other benefits like concession discounts, member events, conference calls, etc., and at a higher price. You want to know the ultimate flex plan? Buying single game tickets for games you want to go to. You’ll save money, have more flexibility, and you’ll know where your tickets are.