When the Yankees announced their plan to address the problems of unsold and empty seats near the field at Yankee Stadium, they released one of the lengthiest press releases in the history of baseball. Included among the many ticket giveaways and price reductions was the announcement that fans who purchased full season tickets in the first row of Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 will be given their choice of a refund or a credit as a result of the ticket price being slashed from $2,500 to $1,250.
The other ticket holders who purchased $2,500 tickets would not receive any refund, but would receive extra free tickets to do with whatever they saw fit. Why the different approach? According to Keith Olbermann, it was because the team was pretty sure no one was going to come for the refunds.
"I'm reliably informed that the Yankees didn't manage to sell any of those seats, so there's no refund to be had. Reality here reads like something out of "Catch-22": you can get a refund on those tickets, but only if you haven't bought them. And you can now buy many of those high-end tickets at half the original price, except you can't, because the Yankees gave them away as make-goods."
The New York Times followed up with the Yankees on this point, who declined to comment on his claims, declined to comment on how many tickets had been sold, declined to comment on how many seats there were in those sections and, presumably, declined to comment on the time of day. They did say, however, that if there were empty seats, they likely would be given to other fans in the manner which Olbermann described.
This story is stale at this point, of course, but the Yankees keep flagging it to life by trying to rearrange the curtains so it looks like there's nothing actually wrong. It hasn't worked to this point, and probably isn't likely to work out any better at any point this season.
Right now they should be focusing on what they're going to do about 2010 and beyond. As of now, it seems like their plan is to just get to a point where the economy has recovered so that they can just sell the tickets and get past all the questions about empty seats. That's the wrong approach, if only because it reinforces the notion that they built the stadium for the elite and with disdain for the rest of the fans who fill Yankee coffers.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.