Behind The Scenes In Sports: Dynamic Ticket Pricing (Updated)

June 21, 2011, by

In an effort to bring you all more information about what fellow suits in the sports industry are discussing in boardrooms around the country, I have decided to start a new series called, “Behind The Scenes In Sports.” Adequately titled, I know. Each posting will feature a different topic be it ticket pricing, sports technology, etc, that could directly or indirectly impact you, the fan.

To start this series we are going to be talking about “Dynamic Ticket Pricing,” which has become a hot topic lately in meetings I’ve been attending.

So what the hell is “dynamic ticket pricing?’

Essentially it means that ticket prices to individual sporting events will be determined by supply and demand instead of having locked in prices all season, which is the current model for most sports teams. In essence, tickets to a sporting event will be more like booking an airline ticket, meaning that the prices keep changing from the time they are released up until the time of the event. What you actually pay will be determined by when and what you are purchasing.

For example, say Chris is in town from England and he’s trying to buy a Rangers ticket that normally sells for $60 on the Rangers website. But because the Rangers are playing the Flyers the evening Chris is looking to attend the price per ticket could shoot up to $75 depending on how quickly they’re going. On the other hand, if the Rangers are playing the Oilers the price per ticket for the same seats could drop to $30 0r $40.

If there are any MLB Giants fans left in New York, perhaps you are already familiar with this concept, as the Giants have been implementing dynamic pricing for years. Their website shows the cheapest seat for a Wednesday night game with the Marlins at $8, but that same seat four nights earlier for an inter-league Saturday night game with the neighboring Oakland A’s was $46.50.

Now let’s say the Oakland A’s tank in the standings and trade away all their star players (right like that’s a stretch). If you time your purchase correctly, that $46.50 may drop to $36.50.

Ultimately this allows you to choose from broader pricing options. If you don’t care about who the Rangers are playing and just want to see hockey at MSG, you can do some research to save yourself some money. For those of us sitting in board rooms, it allows leagues and teams to compete with ticket resellers like Stubhub, who most teams don’t see a penny from anyway.

Anyway, I would expect well-run teams to start rolling out this new way of buying tickets within the next year or so.

*** One thing I should add. This model does not effect season ticket pricing. Season ticket holders should always have the biggest discount, since they are making the biggest investment. This model is only for individual ticket pricing.

Categories : Business of Hockey


  1. Chris says:

    Why thanks for mentioning me Suit!…
    I think dynamic pricing is a good system – although it doesn’t work as effectively internationally because a lot of ticket agents won’t sell to international mailing addresses even if the request is made to deliver electronically. Of course, with the vast majority of ticket sales being domestic that will likely remain that way.

    Great post though – really interesting. My best hope for good priced tickets will always be in the hope that the £ stays strong against the $.

    • The Suit says:

      With the way U.S. debt is looking, I’m sure the dollar will be well below the Euro and the Pound for the rest of our lives

  2. Dave says:

    It’s the smarter business model really. The Yankees do this too, Yanks/Sox tickets are almost twice the price.

    • The Suit says:

      Do the Yankees tickets change based on when you purchase too, or just depending on the game?

  3. Matt J says:

    Interesting but you can’t compare baseball with hockey. Especially the Yankees. To get a decent seat in Yankee stadium is about $200. Then you gotta pay $9 for water. I don’t know which is worse the $9 water or the $200 seat.

    • Dave says:

      You can compare the dynamic pricing of tickets across any sport. It uses the basic economic principle of supply and demand. The more demand for a game, the higher the prices. It works for any sporting or entertainment event.

      • The Suit says:

        Agreed. It’s the same model as buying airline tickets.

      • Matt J says:

        Well I only say this because the range of a ticket for rangers game is about 35 dollars while the Yankees can be 100 dollar difference or even more. Also I will say as much as I hate the devils going to a game at prudential is much more more affordable (maybe it’s because they have no fans). I don’t mind going there also because it feels like a home game.

        • The Suit says:

          That’s a good point and it all goes back to demand. The Yankees are far more popular than the Rangers who are in turn much more popular than the Devils and their prices reflect that.

          I used to go to Mets/Expo games in Montreal and sit behind the dugout for $7. But it was because they had no fans haha.

          • Brian SCS says:

            Good ole Olympic stadium, you were as likely to catch a piece of the falling roof as you were to catch a foul ball. Cool place though.

        • Section 121 says:

          Not sure where you’re getting your $35 Rangers price range from, Matt J? Are you referring to the amount Dolan will raise your ticket price per game from year to year? Heads up fans, you’re paying for the MSG remodel for the next 5 years minimum with steady increases each year (more so than your normal Dolan tax of approx 10%).

          I’d take 8 games at $100 each for the season over 40-42 games at $65-$70. It’s too bad I’m not a football fan.

          Good bye season ticket holders – it was nice knowing you.

          • The Suit says:

            Season ticket holders won’t be affected. This is only for individual tickets. Season subs will always have the biggest discount.

  4. Rick Rants says:

    Its only a matter of time before SPORTS price themselves right out. I allready will not buy a ticket to the Jets and Giants no matter who is playing $100 dollars to watch a watered down sport isnt worth it anymore And even less when that just gets you in the door…

    Hockey is well on its way to having no fans attend and soon all sports will be done… Dont all of the empty seats tell these a holes anything???

    • The Suit says:

      Sports has gotten expensive, no doubt about it. And football is the pricest because there are only 8 home games (less supply).

      But there are still deals out there for other sports if you do your homework. Dynamic pricing will boost up prices for “marquee” matchups sure, but it will potentially lower prices for matchups no one cares about.

      The people who are looking for affordable seats will be able to do just that by selecting the less interesting matchups and by purchasing tickets well in advance.

      No longer will a Flames game cost the same as a Flyers game should MSG move in this direction.

    • Brian SCS says:

      They won’t out price themselves but they will out price many casual fans who will look to get more value for their buck and choose to spend it elsewhere.

      The escalation of pro sports ticket prices may have a an effect on the growth of minor-pro sports teams. The Long Island Ducks minor league team has drawn quite well and caters to families who can get everyone in at about $10 a pop. Yes, it’s not the big leagues but when you get right down to it it’s baseball and great to actually see kids attending a kids game. Oh, and when you kicked out for foul language it’s much more fun to be escorted out by Donald Duck than your run-of-the-mill security detail.

      • The Suit says:

        I want to get kicked out by Donald Duck!

        I agree, for entertaining a young family, you can’t beat minor league baseball. Never been to a Ducks game, but Brooklyn Cyclones games are a good time.