Blame the Mets for Dickey, but not for All-Star game prices

Citi Field. (Photo via Paul Hadsall's flickr stream.)
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Ever since Major League Baseball awarded the 2013 All-Star Game to Citi Field, the New York Mets have been using the possibility of buying tickets to the game, along with the weekend's other events, as a lure for full or partial-season ticket holders to renew, or sign up.

This was, mind you, the right to purchase tickets the Mets were trading on, not the tickets themselves.

Tuesday afternoon, the reality of how much these tickets would cost began to filter out to ticket plan holders via invoices. And there was a fair amount of sticker shock, along with complaints about the Mets. With prices going up for Mets tickets almost across the board, that was the understandable, easy response. But in this case it was wrong.

One plan holder told Adam Rubin that his $36 dollar Promenade Gold seat would cost him $799 for the All-Star weekend events, which include the Home Run Derby, Futures Game, and celebrity softball game along with the All-Star contest itself. Metspolice.com had prices ranging from $453 for Section 538, the furthest section from the action out in left field, to $821 for a Caesar's Club ticket, which is roughly equivalent to Shea Stadium's Mezzanine.

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But it's worth remember that the Mets aren't actually the beneficiaries of the high prices, which may in any case turn out to be justified by sales. 

Let's start with who's responsible for the pricing: According to a Mets spokesperson via email, "The host club works with MLB to set the pricing. Revenues go to MLB. Host club reimbursed through those revenues to cover the expenses incurred to put on the events."

So yes, the Mets worked with Major League Baseball to set pricing for the tickets. But the Mets don't receive any revenue from ticket sales beyond reimbursement of expenses to put on the event at Citi Field, according to the team.

Where the Mets make money is by convincing more people to sign up for season tickets in order to get access to All-Star Game tickets. And how valuable that access is has everything to do with how inexpensive the purchase price is once someone receives that access.

If a season-ticket holder receives the right to purchase All-Star Game tickets for $100 apiece, that perk is worth a lot more than the right to purchase those tickets for $1,000 apiece.

So while the Mets did not elaborate on the role they played in setting prices, it certainly doesn't seem likely that they pushed to make ticket prices higher. That works directly against their self-interest.

The prices are higher than they've been in past years. If Metspolice's price for access in Section 538 is correct, the $453 buy-in price for the worst seat in the house is higher than the $377 to get into Kansas City's events last year. And back in 2008, the last time the game was hosted in New York, an equivalent seat in old Yankee Stadium's bleachers ran $300 for all events.

But the prices tend to be higher in New York than in Kansas City. And compared to the rise in ticket prices at New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field since 2008, the increase in All-Star Game prices is relatively modest. (That was also five years ago.)

The market will decide just how crazy Major League Baseball is for asking fans to pay these prices for the All-Star Game and related events. If these prices are too high, Stubhub.com and other ticket brokers will ultimately sell them for below face value, the way they so often do with tickets to regular Mets games. If the prices are sufficiently low to produce a sellout, ticket scarcity will mean buying into the game without a season ticket plan, or once non-plan holders buy the remaining stock, will probably require paying a premium.

In the meantime, though, it is probably best to separate your outrage over paying $63 dollars, minimum, for an Opening Day game at Citi Field that won't feature R.A. Dickey, and $453 for an All-Star Game that probably will.