As someone who went through his formative season ticket buying years (defined as: the time period shortly after college when I had an income and little responsibility) in the late 90’s and early 00’s, getting Tigers season tickets was a breeze. Where do you want to sit? No problem. What package do you want? No problem. The programs were great with liberal ticket exchange policies and other bonuses. Entering into the 2008 season things have certainly changed.
Here we are on the day of Tigerfest, and today is the first day that the Tigers have promoted 27 game packages. The team had to wait on the mini-packages because ever since the Willis-Cabrera trade there has been so much demand for full season packages. The official word from the Tigers is that as of Wednesday they had sold 3,300 new full season equivalent (FSE) season ticket plans. And with the team just recently starting to sell the smaller packages, the bulk are probably actual full season packages.
When I called the week of that trade to put down a deposit on a 27 game package, I encountered hold times of 10-15 minutes because of increased demand. I did manage to secure a pair of seats for the 2008 season, but the package doesn’t include a seat for Opening Day. With the additional full season purchases, combined with a high renewal rate of the 19,500 FSE from last year, there just aren’t the physical seats available to offer to those buying season tickets for the first time. The team is offering up a Yankees or Red Sox game as an alternate, which is really about the best they can do. Still, I’ve been to every Opening Day for a decade and it was a prime reason for the decision to go for a plan so I can’t help but be disappointed.
The Tigers are encountering all kinds of challenges, but these are the kinds of problems you want. Much like Jim Leyland trying to figure out the best way to get 3 or 4 number 3 hitters fit into a lineup, the Tigers are challenged with cramming as many people into a park that now seems a little too small. Which is unfathomable for anyone who spent a September night with their own section back in 2003. The Tigers are at a point now where they have to:
- Balance the desire to sell more full season ticket packages while offering the customer friendly small packages
- Figure out how to allocate premium tickets like Opening Day and post-season to the tens of thousands of fans who have made a significant financial commitment to the team
- Continue to reward those loyal fans with smaller, less expensive packages, but that have had them for many years.
- Consider cutting off season ticket sales to allow for individual and group ticket sales
Again, all good problems to have but challenges nonetheless.
So if you’re on the fence about getting a package, you might not want to wait to long. Already, some packages are sold out for some areas and that was prior to the team even promoting them on the website.
As for my Opening Day dilemma. I decided not to wait around and went the StubHub route. I got a pair in the right field grand stand for $130 a piece. Clearly more than I wanted to spend, but that’s the going rate right now and I don’t see it getting any cheaper. But with over 300 listings at least there is a decent selection.