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Does StubHub Help or Hurt Major League Baseball?

With news on our favorite ballclub terribly slow at the moment, we saw an article on Sports Business Daily that caught our attention. It started as a project from a customer of StubHub who bought tickets well below the teams’s pricing for a baseball game.

It evolved into a dynamic look at the impact of the secondary ticket market. Well sort of.. The story focuses on the first week of August this season and then studied one game specificially–the August 5 game around MLB.

You might remember that week if your a Pittsburgh Pirates fan because the Bucs had lost seven in a row and were sitting at 54-56, smack dab in the middle of the collapse.  The Pirates had waived fees on tickets for the week as a sales promotion.

Before we link the story for you, we want to let you know our stance on StubHub.

We love it.

We love it because on the day of a game, we can pick our seat. We can look at all of the available tickets. We can shop, compare, and literally within minutes can print our tickets and head to the game.

No longer is there a dependence on a union ticket seller, who may or may not be in a good mood being stuck behind a bullet proof glass window, telling us that the best available ticket is in the right field bleachers.

Another advantage is we can also look and see six seats that are priced right and take some friends or business clients.  We are seemingly in control of the tickets and it’s a cool feeling.

StubHub eliminated the bullet proof glass between fans and their seats by stroking a check to Major League Baseball. We really don’t care how or why they did it, but simply don’t understand why the teams couldn’t do it. Oh well, StubHub is the number two player in the secondary market right now. The average price is falling every year, but we feel that should and eventually will become more stable.

But whatever. It’s fast. It’s easy.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are featured in the article with Lou DePaoli, the EVP and CMO, spitting some solid quotes on a situation that has polarized some MLB teams:

“I know a lot of people think the sky is falling,” said DePaoli, whose club sees about 2,100 tickets move on StubHub per game. “I don’t see it that way. It’s something you have to be aware of and work within. It’s not going to be the end of season tickets. It’s not going to wipe out our single-game sales.

DePaoli continues, “How flexible are you to changing your business model? How do we appropriately price our tickets? That’s what this is.”

We would like to answer a few of DePaoli’s questions:

Flexibility? The Bucs have it. The sales team is one of the best I have ever encountered. We hate the thought of not keeping a relationship with the salesperson after buying season tickets once. That seems idiotic. Too NBA for me. Too impersonal. It slaps the efforts of the sales team in the forehead.

Pricing? We have been on this bandwagon forever. The Pirates were too cowardly in raising prices when the opportunities existed. Now they are caught playing catch up.

The Stub Hub deal is ending soon. The article talks about teams setting price floors on tickets, which of course Stub Hub isn’t interested in doing.

What is interesting to think about is if MLB will develop their own secondary market reseller or allow teams to make their own decisions on a reseller. Either way, stay tuned, the secondary market isn’t going away.


A few details of the Bucs action on StubHub from the August 5 game which is extensively studied in the article:

The Bucs had 575 transactions which involved 2,016 tickets sold for $56,996.

Go to the article to see how many sellers actually made a buck on the game. We think it will blow you away.

Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates StubHub

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