Omaha To Continue Offering Dynamic Ticket Pricing
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—Let's say you're in Omaha next summer. You've stuffed yourself with a steak from The Drover, you've gotten financial advice from Warren Buffett and now you're on your way to catch a little baseball to finish your day. When you look in your wallet, however, and you're a little lighter than you realized.
What to do? Well, if you're on the way to see the Omaha Storm Chasers, you don't have to worry. Because of their dynamic pricing structure for tickets, you might be able to get into the game for less than expected and still have money left over for peanuts and Cracker Jack.
The Storm Chasers are the first minor league team to adopt dynamic ticket pricing (the Detroit Tigers did the same in 2014), which means the prices of their tickets vary based on demand. If you're looking to see a game on a non-peak night, you're likely to pay less than face value. If the game is on, say, the Fourth of July or another night with a prime promotion or fireworks, the price might be a little more than expected.
The system is designed to boost revenue, but it also allows for prime deals if you know when to shop.
"Dynamic ticket pricing is not new to the entertainment world, it's not new to the baseball world, but it is very new to minor league baseball," Storm Chasers president Martie Cordaro said. "Two years ago, our ownership group, led by Gary Green, was interested in seeing how (it) could look at pricing our tickets differently. So Gary struck up a relationship with a company called QCue, who works with more than 25 or 26 major league clubs, and we formed a partnership with them. QCue worked with TicketReturn to make sure it was something we could test out. We used (dynamic ticket pricing) in 2015 and learned a little bit about it, but 2016 is really when we started to use it."
This is, essentially, the same way airlines set their prices. A cross-country flight, for example, might cost you $350 during a dead period in the summer, but the same trip on the same airline on the same plane might cost $200 more during a heavy travel period. The same goes for rental cars. When more people want cars, the prices will go up. For baseball, though, it's not just about pricing. Dynamic ticketing might also help ownership see more clearly which seats are in demand when, and in turn help guide future stadium renovation plans.
"It's not just about increasing prices based on demand. We have also used it to re-scale our ballpark and to look at how we sell group tickets and how we sell ticket packages and how we sell daily tickets," Cordaro said. "So it's really been more of a ticket system than just a pricing strategy, because we have a limited number of seats left on a premium night or a good night."
Prices are calculated and re-calculated using an algorithm that takes into account factors such as seating capacity, night of the week, promotions and weather. It uses the stadium schematic for Werner Park, of course, and moves the prices up and down as tickets in each section begin selling out. There are no caps or floors on ticket prices.
Don't look for dynamic ticket pricing to become a widespread phenomenon, however. Cordaro has received inquiries about the mechanics of the program from a couple of other teams, and also spoke about it during this past year's promotional seminar in Birmingham, but most teams appear willing to stick with their static prices for tickets.
"There's interest, but it's more of an uncertainty, kind of like I (felt) two years ago," he said. "I wasn't a big proponent of it. I thought that maybe our game wasn't ready for it and the fans weren't ready for it. But the reality is Minor League Baseball needs to do a better job as an industry of tracking trends and moving more quickly from a technological standpoint."
After two years in place, however, it appears that dynamic ticket pricing is here to stay in Omaha.
El Paso Groundskeeper Dies
El Paso Chihuahuas groundskeeper Nathan Jones died on Dec. 6 as a result of injuries sustained in the aftermath of a traffic accident on Nov. 29. Jones, 24, had been in a separate accident and was exchanging information when a truck hit him and pinned him against his car. He was hospitalized with serious injuries and had his legs amputated before he died on Dec. 5.
“It is incredibly heartbreaking to lose our head groundskeeper, one of our original first season employees," El Paso president Brad Taylor said. "It has been an extremely emotional week and we share in the sadness and pain the Jones’ family is enduring right now. We are thankful for the overwhelming outpour of support both locally and from friends all over our baseball community.”
If you would like to contribute to Jones' medical expenses, his family has set up a Go Fund Me page.
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“Nate was a special person and a fantastic friend to everyone in our organization, and especially the staff that worked with him. He brought a unique passion to his work, and was responsible for creating some wonderful memories for Chihuahuas fans who marvel at the Southwest University Park playing field," Alan Ledford, the president of El Paso's ownership group, said. We are deeply saddened and will miss Nate immensely.”