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The Jays Introduce Some Interesting New Ticket Packages

Anybody up for a six pack?

No! Not the stupendous 1982 film starring Kenny Rogers! I don’t even mean beer! I mean the Blue Jays’ somewhat newly introduced (they had a couple of these last year) ticket packages, which were announced to the media in a message earlier today. To wit:

As the release says, you can see more details at BlueJays.com, including the actual available games, and the pricing — which is reasonable enough. I mean, gone are the days of papering the house with $100 Toronto Star passes, sure, but the “Value Pack” checks in at less than $20 per ticket (before whatever fees or bullshit might also be included*) for a seat in the 500s — and for enterprising fans willing to sell their ticket to Opening Day on the secondary market, less than even that — while the most expensive 500 level seat comes in the “Giveaway Pack,” and averages out to $24 per game.

Sure, “reasonable” is relative, and probably not the word someone who remembers the old prices or who wants to take a family of four would use, but for big league baseball, and in Canadian dollars, you won’t have an easy time finding a better price. For example, Cleveland somewhat unsurprisingly has similar “Six Pack” packages, and their cheapest option — a group of six Sunday games in the top half of their second deck — goes for $99 USD, which right now translates to $123 CAD. The Jays’ cheapest option is $119 CAD.

*Before we move on, speaking of fees and bullshit, uh, a disclaimer on the site warns this: “Prices will depend on the category of each of your games. In addition, prices may be increased once dynamic pricing comes into effect.” That last sentence confused me for a second, but what I realize now it means is that if one of the designated games has been bumped up to a premium one by dynamic pricing — say José Bautista signs with the Twins and his Rogers Centre return is in one of the packages, or John Gibbons calls Jeff Bannister a shit-eating pigfucker and a Rangers game in one of the packages becomes a must-see certain war — then the club reserves the right to increase prices for those buying after that point. You’re not going to get dynamic priced into paying more than you expect if you buy in February.

What’s most interesting about this announcement, of course, is what it says about how the Jays are trying to capture ticket revenue — which seems to me to be somewhat smartly. It goes without saying that ticket revenue is vital for this operation, and that, even with increases this winter, it seems hard to imagine the club will do as well as they did in 2017 on season tickets. They need to find other incentives to get people through the turnstiles, and I think this shows that they are likely genuinely following through on their talk about taking a data-driven approach to find ways to do so.

For example, the Home Opener and the Canada Day game are events. People are going to want to go to these no matter what. But right now, if anybody wants to ensure they’ll be at those games in 2018, they need to either have already purchased season tickets, or one of the club’s 20 game flex packs (there are also 12 game flex packs on sale right now, but fans can’t select the Home Opener or Canada Day with them). With this announcement the option is now there to get a package that includes the Home Opener or Canada Day, plus five other games.

I’d suspect that the data the club has collected over the last two years says that six games per year is not too many or too costly for a whole lot of their more casual fans. I’d also suspect that expectation, or at least the hope, is that the appeal of getting ahead of the queue for the big event games — because these six packs go on sale on January 16th, whereas single game tickets don’t go on sale until February 8th — is going to push a bunch of fans toward these packages. Or maybe it pushes those who know they’ll want to get to more than six games to get a flex pack now, rather than seeing all kinds of tickets to the Opener or Canada Day gobbled up by the coming Six Pack crowds. Either way, the goal sure as hell seems to be to incentivize fans into committing more dollars and to more games than they maybe otherwise would have, in order to ensure that they get tickets to the games they want.

That concept is being repeated with the Giveaway Day pack, too. And while, yes, most giveaway days are going to well enough on their own, tying them to games that likely wouldn’t (in addition to three bobblehead games that pack has a Thursday in May against Seattle where the giveaway is just a t-shirt, for example), and making the incentive to buy the package not so much about cost but about the ability to get tickets early (i.e. ensure you get them, and ensure you get the best seats), and that’s likely a net positive.

Data seems to be used in perhaps more subtle ways, too. I’m not huge on the club’s fan festivals and shit, but the Social Pack offers four Friday night games, a Saturday 4:07 PM start (against the trashbag Rangers no less!), and the Thursday night before the May 24 weekend (the holiday is on the Monday, of course, but that just means this is an excuse to make it a four day weekend!). There isn’t a game in there that I’m afraid of missing out on, yet this speaks very personally to me. And six games seems like a pretty good number. I could definitely flip 120 bucks on that. And my guess is that it exists because the data from their surveying told them that I wasn’t the only one. (And the same goes for the Rivalry Pack and the Weekend Pack with all its insufferable Sunday games that for some reason people seem to like.)

Do this kind of stuff enough —  and well enough — and perhaps you can even offset a bunch of the expected loss from un-renewed season tickets. Perhaps you can do even better. Can you really? I have no idea. Maybe I’m blowing a very basic thing all out of proportion, even! It’s not like they needed a massive study to know that Canada Day is a popular game or anything. But it’s interesting that the Jays seem here to be trying to take perhaps more granular things they now know about what their customers want and turn it into revenue in a somewhat efficient way — making good on some of the modernization of operations talk we’ve heard since the new regime took over.

I’m definitely not trying to say that these little ticket packages are going to be game-changing from a revenue perspective, but gains is gains. And probably more importantly, commitments now, before the season potentially goes all fuckin’ sideways, is commitments. Seems like a good approach, frankly. (Then again, what the hell do I know?)