Not a great way to woo back skittish fans: the Syracuse Chiefs (Class AAA; International League) irritated some season-ticket holders with a price increase that was quickly walked back.
The issue: the team is raising the price of top-level season tickets from $350 to $575, with the addition of food and beverage service previously offered to Home Plate Club members. In other words, folks in the 100 ticket level were upgraded to the Home Plate Club plan. The best seats in the house -- the 100-level seats -- were going for $4.86 a game.
Now, season-ticket pricing is an art, not a science. A price of $350 per ticket for some pretty primo seats seems to be on the low side; in the same circuit, the Buffalo Bisons charge $530 for a similar season ticket (which includes some ballpark bucks and many other perks) and the Rochester Red Wings charge $405, but don't include as many perks. Still, a 64 percent hike came as a surprise to the 300 or so Chiefs season ticket holders, causing new GM Jason Smorol to pull back on the hike. From Syracuse.com:
Smorol said about 150 season ticket-holders previously paid $350 for the top plan that will now cost $575. He said all those fans will be allowed to keep their current seats at the same lower price for the next two seasons.
After that, Smorol said he's still mulling his options and won't commit to anything. He may eliminate the $350 option for season ticket-holders in that area and hope that the fans who had been paying the reduced rate consider the hike to $575 to still be a fair price for all the perks.
He said he is also considering grandfathering in the older season-ticket holders and continuing to let them pay their original rate for the premium level. If Smorol does not go that route, he said those who want to keep their season-ticket expense at $350 can move to the 200 level with minimal displacement and mostly the same extras.
We're guessing Smorol will be walking a tightrope for the next year or so. On one hand, the financial issues associated with the team virtually forces Smorol and the ownership to shake things up and identify new revenue streams. On the other hand, folks used to cheap seats and concessions will be the ones most affected by the changes. How far you can push loyal fans and yet attract new ones in a huge challenge and probably won't be solved by Smorol and crew in a single year.
RELATED STORIES: Sister: Simones mistreated by Chiefs; Housecleaning in Syracuse: Simone, board out; Chiefs behind on ballpark rent to Onondaga County; Mobley: Chiefs financial situation "needs a little attention"; More bad news out of Syracuse: Chiefs post $500K lost for 2013; Tex Simone retires as Syracuse Chiefs COO/EVP; Ennui in Syracuse
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