Is ticket price increase Werth it?

The Phillies quietly announced a mild – $2 to $5 – increase on tickets recently, with the highest increases coming on the highest priced tickets. Many of the lower priced tickets saw little change in price, meaning the average fan can expect to pay the same next season as they did this season. A team with 123 straight sellouts really doesn’t have to worry too much about a small increase in prices; it’s that law of supply and demand thing.

But for a team that wants to keep their profit ratio about where it is and was set to do that by keeping player payroll about where it was to start the 2010 season, added revenue is an interesting thing. With the popularity that the Phillies have enjoyed in everything from ticket sales to merchandise, it’s harder to pump up the level of enthusiasm to raise revenue, so a price hike may be the best way to go.

The Phillies came into 2010 with the fifth highest average ticket price in the majors at $32.99, behind Boston, the New York Yankees and both Chicago teams. They were over $5 cheaper per ticket than were the White Sox, who were in fourth and less than a dollar more than the sixth place Mets. In other words, their average ticket price was substantially higher than the major league average of $26.74, but not too far out of line with the big boys. Their prices on other things, such as parking, food and merchandise at the ballpark, kept their fan cost index well below the other teams in the top five.

With an attendance total of 3,647,249 for last season – a team record – the Phillies can expect to raise over $3.5 million for every dollar of average increase for next season. (The average ticket price number hasn’t been announced just yet, but it’s likely to be around $2 per ticket.)

When you do the math, the Phillies could stand to bring in a little over $7 million more next season, not accounting for price increases in other areas or for added expenses for running the club. To bottom line the argument, the ticket increase could be one way for the Phillies to afford bringing Jayson Werth back in 2011.

With a little juggling here and there and just a little leniency from ownership, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. might be able to persuade Werth to accept a lower first year number on a contract in lieu of higher pay for following seasons to make up for the difference. For instance, let’s say for argument’s sake that Werth wants five years and $65 million, the Phillies could offer maybe $9 million in 2011 and $14 million per season for each of the following four seasons rather than a straight $13 million per season.

Of course, maybe the increased revenue will be eaten up by increased expenses in other areas and Amaro won’t get an extra dime from ownership. Or, as many fans suspect, the price increase will simply help to further line the pockets of ownership and again, Amaro won’t get a dime of the increase. However the math works out, there is now at least a chance that Amaro will have a slightly higher payroll number to work with, giving him a little wiggle room to negotiate with Werth, Cliff Lee or other lesser profile free agents over the winter.

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