The Oakland A’s are offering perhaps the most aggressive promotion in the club’s history to get butts in seats. Forget “Rapid Deal Days.” Forget the old “Double Play Wednesdays.” Heck, forget the Dollar Wednesdays of ancient history. For $19.99 per month, you can buy the A’s Ballpark Pass to get into the Oakland Coliseum for every A’s home game, starting in June.
The pass doesn’t get you a particular seat, though one will be assigned to the passholder one or two hours before first pitch if the 47,170-seat Coliseum hasn’t sold out by then. (Hah!) You can buy up to eight passes in one transaction, and tickets in one transaction will be seated together.
To get the pass, you need to have the “MLB.com Ballpark App” on your iOS or Android device. Use any browser to buy the pass at the hyperlinked text, and the tickets will appear in the app for you to get into the ballpark. You’re charged an initial $24.99 ($19.99 for June plus a $5 “Package Fee”) and then $19.99 per month after that. You can cancel your Pass purchase for subsequent months by emailing email@example.com on or before the 20th before the month you want to cancel.
One disadvantage is that the tickets cannot be transferred, so everyone has to arrive at the same time because all the tickets are scanned from the pass-holder’s phone. Once you’re actually scanning the tickets at the gate, the scanner will print out a seat locator to give to guests.
The non-transferability also extends to selling tickets on Stubhub or even to the BART Bridge ticket touts, as the tickets are strictly digital.
Other teams are offering similar monthly passes, all at higher prices. For example, the Reds have the most comparable pass, with an auto-renewal at $29.99 per month. The Giants will give you two tickets to their 13 contests in May for $99. The Phillies offer monthly passes for $50. The White Sox offer their May pass for $42.
Planting the seed of loyalty
I remember being in high school when a door-to-door salesman came to...well...the door and finding someone selling books of deeply discounted ticket vouchers at a price that seemed too good to be true. My parents were only too excited to find something affordable for me to do in the summer, but they did the cautious thing and looked up the A’s ticket office in the phone book to call and confirm that yes, this was a legitimate offer.
That summer of 2003 (or was it 2004?) cemented my A’s fandom. Cheap tickets and dollar hot dogs by the half-dozen on Wednesdays, and my new passion for keeping score kept me company along with my best friend from then. Who cares where you sit? Get to know an usher and he’ll seat you in the seats the A’s baseball operations staff never use.
The battle for attendance
Since Opening Night, A’s attendance has peaked at 24,165 for a Sunday loss to the Mariners when they were giving away Khris Davis striped socks. The A’s just barely had enough paid attendance to exceed the 15,000 Bob Melvin bobbleheads it gave away last weekend, with 16,651 the announced attendance for that contest.
Of course, few who buy this season pass do so intending to go to every game. I probably won’t go to more than one game a series, if that. But selling hundreds, perhaps even thousands of passes will certainly juice those paid attendance figures even if many of them don’t pass through the digital turnstiles.
There are 55 home dates left, and sticking with the plan for all four months is $79.96 per ticket plus a $5 initial per pass fee. That’s $1.54 per date per ticket.
But basically, going to two games a month puts you way ahead of walking up and buying a $15 ticket in the View level.
Why bother with a Season Ticket Membership?
The danger in such an aggressive promotion is undercutting loyal season ticket members with this shockingly low price. While those who typically buy in premium locations and enjoy sitting in the same seat or section every game probably won’t feel stung as much, others who are buying the lower-end packages in the Value Deck or Bleachers might feel a more significant loss of value in a membership.
The A’s tout some legitimate differences between the season pass and a season ticket membership:
@raiderscal1888 STM's have far more benefits and flexibility in ticket exchanges, locations and experiences.— Oakland A's ⚾️ (@Athletics) May 11, 2017
Even if some season ticket members feel burned by this offer, the A’s don’t really have a large season ticket base in the first place. Coming off two losing seasons, fans have yet to be drawn to the improvements in food and service options at the Coliseum. Get the fans in on the cheap, and they’ll keep coming back. And they’ll invite their friends. And their friends. And so on.
Some day, the experience, the team, or the new stadium will draw more fans to make season ticket membership at the cheapest tier a high-value proposition compared to efforts to just get butts in seats. The A’s biggest problem right now, however, is they can’t sell a hot dog to an empty seat. The few who are already loyal enough to buy a season ticket plan after a 69-win season will just have to be content with the various member events, ticket exchanges, and parking passes that come with it.
Buy now before supplies run out
Basically, the A’s can sell enough of these passes that will fill up the upper deck and standing room for their most popular games and not one seat more. That’s not an unlimited number, so I’m not sure I would wait. If you’re not particular about your seat, get in on this deal. If you’d like a better seat but don’t need to pick the exact one, buy an inexpensive upgrade through the app after you get in the door. It’s an amazing deal for the bargain hunter.