TORONTO – Cheap seats at Toronto Blue Jays games are suddenly much more expensive as the nosebleeds are being hit hardest by an across-the-board price hike on ticket packages for the 2015 season.
The increases – ranging between 5-27.6 percent on season subscriptions and 0.80-50 percent on flex packs – were instituted quietly when packages for next year went on sale Wednesday. Single-game ticket prices won’t be released until January, although fans can expect a hike in those to scale.
“That’s a fair assumption,” Jason Diplock, vice-president of ticket sales and service for the Blue Jays, said in an interview Thursday.
The Blue Jays hadn’t raised prices since a wider matrix restructuring ahead of the 2010 season, and the move to do it now comes after an 83-79 finish in 2014, and a record payroll of around $140 million. Attendance this season was 2,375,525, down from 2,536,562 in 2013.
“It’s been five years and it’s never an easy decision to put an increase out there,” said Diplock. “We felt that given what we were able to do the past five years and what we’re trying to accomplish on a go-forward basis, internally the timing felt right.
“We had a pretty good season, lots of ups, lots of downs, but we felt the momentum was going the right way with what we’re trying to do as an organization.”
What that means for next year’s payroll is uncertain, although team president Paul Beeston has long pointed out the link between revenue and spending on players. During a recent interview on Sportsnet 590 The FAN, he said the payroll will rise next year. Beeston was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Additional financial flexibility would certainly help GM Alex Anthopoulos patch the club’s holes in the bullpen, outfield and at second base this off-season.
The looming free agency of Melky Cabrera, whom the team has been speaking to over the past few weeks, is emerging as a litmus test issue among some portions of the fan base, although he’s likely to hit the open market since there’s no clear definition of what his value is just yet.
Already the Blue Jays have roughly $94 million committed to eight players, one of whom is Ricky Romero, for 2015, and exercising the contract options for J.A. Happ and Adam Lind as expected would add $13.2 million to that.
Factoring in arbitration raises and the cost of 0-3 service time players, and Anthopoulos could have anywhere from $20-$33 million to work with on a payroll of $140 million.
How the ticket increases impact all those calculations aren’t known.
But when asked how the team gauges when the time is right to raise prices, Diplock pointed to the interaction between sales reps and package holders and season-ending surveys as being, “one part of it.”
“Then obviously getting a sense internally of what we’re doing with the team and how we’re setting it up on a go-forward basis, and making sure that business side is aligning with what’s going on the baseball side,” he continued.
Intriguingly, team owner Rogers Communications Inc., reported its third quarter earnings Thursday, with the company’s release noting that “higher revenue associated with the Toronto Blue Jays” helped keep Rogers Media’s operating revenue unchanged in the quarter and up two percent year to date.
No specifics were provided.
At the same time, the division’s operating expenses increased by eight percent in the quarter in part due to “higher player salaries of approximately $10 million this quarter and $20 million year to date at the Toronto Blue Jays.”
The larger spikes to the 500 level seating packages don’t necessarily mean a windfall is imminent, as Diplock pointed out that the largest increases – to upper level flex packs ranging from 45-50 percent – “has an impact on less than three percent of our overall tickets sold last year.”
“We try and be sensitive in terms of how many people that affects,” he said. “That puts it in context.”
The cheap seats were hit hardest, explained Diplock, in order to keep prices in the various categories to scale, and to ensure “prices for Product X in the lower level seats are relative to Product Y.”
“When we look at that, that 50 percent is a large number, we’re aware of that, but when you look at the absolute dollars, we’re talking about an increase of $60 per pack divided by 15 games, so it’s a $4 per game increase,” he added. “When we internally look at it in that regard, we asked ourselves is that fair or not.
“We felt that although the 50 percent does seem aggressive, the $4 per game increase was reasonable, from our perspective.”
The Blue Jays will soon discover if their fans feel the same way.
Blue Jays Flex Pack Prices 2015
|SECTION||40 Games||20 Games||15 Games||10 Games|
|Field Level Infield||$2,400||$1,320||$922.50||$630|
|200 Level Infield||$2,400||$1,320||$922.50||$630|
|Field Level Bases||$1,770||$970||$682.50||$465|
|200 Level Bases||$1,770||$970||$682.50||$465|
|100 Level Outfield||$1,100||$645||$450||$305|
|200 Level Outfield||$1,050||$575||$405||$275|
Blue Jays Flex Pack Prices 2014
|SECTION||40 Games||20 Games||15 Games||10 Games|
|Field Level Infield||$2,320||$1,280||$915||$625|
|200 Level Infield||$2,320||$1,280||$915||$625|
|Field Level Bases||$1,540||$880||$615||$425|
|200 Level Bases||$1,540||$880||$615||$425|
|100 Level Outfield||$960||$560||$395||$265|
|200 Level Outfield||$950||$500||$360||$245|
Blue Jays Season Ticket Prices
|In The Action Seats||$16,200||$17,010||$5%|
|TD Comfort Clubhouse||xxx||$5,265||xxx|
|Field Level Infield||$4,078||$4,536||11.23%|
|200 Level Infield||$4,078||$4,536||11.23%|
|Field Level Bases||$3,103||$3,321||7%|
|200 Level Bases||$3,103||$3,321||7%|
|100 Level Outfield||$1,907||$2,187||14.7%|
|200 Level Outfield||$1,907||$1,863||-2.3%|