Wednesday, the Yankees announced a new policy preventing fans from printing tickets at home. Officially, the reasoning for this was that there are fraud issues with tickets you can print at home.
Of course, the real reason is that the Yankees have a long-standing beef with StubHub because they have a deal with Ticketmaster. StubHub sells a lot of print-at-home tickets, but the team's official Ticketmaster-run secondary exchange only uses electronic tickets -- and also has a price floor to prevent tickets from being sold at below-market values.
Okay, that's some BS. The Yankees are jerks who are using consumer fraud as a veneer for a new policy that helps their partners make money at the expense of fans. Breaking news: A team did some BS stuff to make money.
But on Thursday, COO Lonn Trost spoke about the decision, and he gave an even more troubling reason why the team was instituting the policy!
"The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money. It's not that we don't want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it's frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount."
Trost then added a comment that raised eyebrows on social media because of its seemingly elitist undertones. "And quite frankly," he said, "the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that's a frustration to our existing fan base."
Trost somehow took "we're instituting a policy designed to make fans pay more money because it will help our corporate partners make more money" and made it WORSE. He pretty explicitly said the team is worried that its richest fans might have to sit next to poorer folks. All baseball teams are greedy, not many publicly endorse class segregation.
It's the "that fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location" that really does it. He makes it clear that he's not simply trying to prevent high-paying fans from feeling frustrated that they overpaid. He's trying to prevent the hyper-rich people paying face value from having to sit next to people who don't belong.
Let's have some sympathy for the devil. Of course, there are humans in this world who pay for exclusivity, and when their restaurant or country club or, um, seating section at a popular sporting event becomes less exclusive, they'll get upset. They'll complain, and maybe even stop buying tickets. As gross as it sounds, the Yankees are a business, and they do have to worry that their wealthiest fans might stop paying big bucks if exposed to poorer people.
But if people are getting into nice seats at low prices and scaring off hyper-rich fans, the problem here isn't the regular folks. They're just paying market value. The problem is that the Yankees set absurdly high prices, so high that people paying for tickets might expect them to come with a presumed velvet rope keeping the poors out. If the actual market value of those tickets is removing that imaginary velvet rope, your ticket prices are making a promise of exclusivity you can't keep.