World Series Ticket Advice: Wait!

Justin Wolfers points to a study by Andrew Sweeting on changes in MLB ticket prices over time.

Sweeting has meticulously crunched the data on baseball ticket sales for 2007 on StubHub.com, and he cross-checked his analysis with data from another (anonymized) online source. He documents a rather striking fact: the prices of baseball tickets tend to fall through time. …

You might be concerned that this result simply reflects all the better tickets being sold early. But Sweeting’s dataset (of over three million ticket sales!) contains such amazing detail that the chart reflects comparisons among tickets within the same game, section, and row.

In fact, Sweeting’s biggest concern in my giving this advice is that his data cover only regular season games, while different patterns may apply to the post-season. But the economic forces behind Sweeting’s law probably apply even more strongly to the World Series. He argues that regular season-ticket prices are higher in advance of game day because people have to make plans in advance, which increases demand.

It seems likely that a greater share of the World Series crowd will be traveling to Philly for the game, and these folks will be especially keen to purchase game tickets before investing in airline tickets. As such, expect today’s ticket prices to be sky-high as these folks make their plans — and hopefully prices will start falling over the next few days.

More support for my theory (or is it a life philosophy?) of rational procrastination.

My experience with buying secondary-market tickets at sporting events is that the closer you get to the venue, the lower the price.

3 Responses “World Series Ticket Advice: Wait!”

  1. Ken Houghton says:

    The standard routine in front of MSG for Rangers games is to buy just after the first period has started, when everyone has stopped pretending that face value is anything more than what-you-calculate-the-discount-from.

    I always felt sorry for the scalpers at Shea in the early 1980s (esp. 80-83), who were trying to sell tickets in the face of 30-40K empty seats.

    The growing use of StubHub and similar by the NFL and NHL is just going to cause me not to go to games, just because the live negotiation is that much more limited.  I doubt I’m alone in this.

  2. Great observation. I was always under the impression that if you buy tickets early, you get a better deal.

  3. Jason S. says:

    Expecting a World Series ticket to sell for anything less than face is unrealistic.  And I speak from experience having bought tickets on the street to 2 World Series games.  When you have 2 teams that either never (Tampa) or almost never (Philly) go there, demand will be high and there will be no bargains.  Paying face value will be as good as it can get and even that might be an unrealistic goal.  However, you might overpay less by buying on game day than buying days in advance, that I can believe, but you’ll still have to overpay if you want to get in.   I remember in 1995 that I tried to buy a game 1 ticket to the World Series and nobody was willing to sell one for less than $250, so I didn’t get in.  I waited until the game had started and I still couldn’t find anyone who come down off that price.  Some people will not sell you a ticket unless they can make a profit on it and I’ve seen people get angry that no one will overpay, so they storm off and enter the venue holding an extra ticket that they didn’t sell at any price.  It makes no logical sense as even face value or a small amount above would be better than nothing, but I’ve seen people eat tickets if they can’t sell them for as high over face as they hoped to.