The San Francisco Giants are doing something a little different with ticket prices this season, and it doesn't look like it will benefit the team's fans.
The team is instituting what it calls "dynamic ticket pricing" that is a form of variable pricing where the most popular games, such as against its neighbors the Oakland A's and the rival Los Angeles Dodgers are more expensive to get into than other games.
The difference with "dynamic ticket pricing" is that ticket prices will fluctuate daily depending on the perceived demand for seats -- but only for 2,000 seats that are the hardest to sell -- in the upper deck beyond the outfield, according to a Sports Illustrated article. Those seats are difficult to sell because they're lousy seats that are so high up and so far from home plate that you need an oxygen tank once you reach them, and a pair of binoculars to see the outfielder, if you can see him at all with the Giants' odd-shaped outfield walls.
The algorithm that sets the price takes 20 variables into account -- including the day, opponent, scheduled starters and weather forecast. So on a cloudy Tuesday night against the Pirates, for example, those 2,000 seats would cost less than on a sunny, Saturday afternoon game against the A's. And the price will increase when the Giants' top pitcher, Tim Lincecum pitches.
The starting value for these seats ranges from $7 to $30 and the price will move by increments of 50 cents but will be limited to a range of $5 to $50.
The Giants' upper deck seats, which it calls "View Reserve," sell for $18 for regular games, $24 for feature games and $32 for premium games, according to its list of individual ticket prices. Prices are usually lower for buying ticket plans for multiple games. Premium games are the A's and Dodgers, and feature games are mostly weekend games.
I'll bet that most of those "dynamic" tickets will cost more than it would have under the pricing for regular games. The reasoning behind the concept is simple supply and demand for tickets. But you'd think that a sport ravaged by steroids would do something more to attract and keep young fans, instead of finding creative ways to charge them more to see their favorite teams and players on a sunny weekend afternoon.
I'm waiting for the day when a team offers a "dynamic" refund for a cold hot dog or flat beer.
Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net