Yankees slash some high-end tickets prices

By Ronald Blum
Associated Press / April 29, 2009
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NEW YORK - Turns out a few more fans might be able to buy those empty front-row seats at Yankee Stadium.

The New York Yankees slashed prices on more than 40 percent of their front-row seats by up to 50 percent yesterday and announced many of those who bought tickets closest to the field for $325-$2,500 will be eligible for additional free seats.

Those initiatives could help pack previously unfilled areas that were an eye sore on television broadcasts during the opening homestand at the $1.5 billion ballpark.

"There are a few hundred suite seats in our premium locations that have not been sold on a full season basis," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "As a result, and for many of our fans who have already purchased full season suite seats in such premium locations, the Yankees are announcing a program that adjusts certain prices and benefits."

While most of the cheaper tickets in the second and third decks were sold for the opening six games, entire sections of cushioned blue seats with teak arm rests in the first nine rows in 25 sections went empty, areas that cost $500 and up. In addition, many of the non-premium seats between the bases, which cost $325 as part of season tickets and $375 individually, also went unfilled.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who owns three $850 Legends Suite season tickets, was unhappy prices were cut only for those with front-row seats while others will be given additional tickets.

"If they're offering only selective refunds, depend upon it: There are going to be lawsuits," he said.

The price of first-row season seats in nine sections of the Delta Sky360 Suite one deck up behind home plate was cut from $750 to $550.

Among the top non-premium seats in the lower deck, the Yankees announced a buy-three-get-one-free program for new $325-a-seat season tickets in the 15 sections between the bases.

Steinbrenner said the Yankees had sold 85 percent of their premium seats and 37,000 full-season equivalents, more than 3.4 million tickets in all. But it was apparent most of the unsold seats were closest to the field.

In response, the team cut the price of first-row Legends Suite seats in four sections on the outer half of the dugouts and photo cages from $2,500 to $1,250. According to a count by the Associated Press, 48 seats were affected.

In addition, seats in the first row in the final three sections down each foul line were slashed from $1,000 to $650. That affects 68 seats.

In all, the AP count had the Yankees cutting the price of 116 of 258 front-rows seats, which have been on sale for up to $2,625 for individual games. The team said the reductions will apply to this season only, and ticket buyers can receive either a refund or credit.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester, a frequent and vocal critic of the Yankees, said the reductions weren't enough.

"It's the public that built Yankee Stadium, and even at these prices, the public has been excluded from the very stadium they built," Brodsky said. "It's a continuing disaster."

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