Cardinals season tickets and dynamic pricing

St. Louis Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III discusses ticket revenues and the first year of dynamic pricing.

This is the last of four articles reflecting remarks made by St. Louis Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III during Winter Warm-Up. Here, he answered a series of questions regarding season ticket sales targets and progress as well as a look back at the first year of the new dynamic pricing program.

DeWitt III's remarks follow in quotes.

On season ticket sales.

Season ticket sales are going very well. This is right at that point in time where you have hopefully written your check to renew. Right after the holidays is not pleasant, I know.

Typically the Cardinals have been over the last decade or so – we try to get to - about a 92 or 93 percent renewal rate on season tickets. There is always some attrition and you try to get new season holders to fill that balance and try to remain around the 22,000 mark in seats sold in season tickets.

We have some mixing and matching. We are talking about full season and the half season and we will add up eight 10-game packs and call that one season ticket, as well. That is industry standard.

22-plus thousand season tickets – I think we are in good shape to be able to keep that number this year. Maybe even grow it a touch, which would be great. It is a testament to how great these fans are that we win the World Series and it is not like all of the sudden we go from five to five times ten.

I am saying that we don't spike and create this sugar high on the payroll. It is clearly going to help – winning the World Series – but we are just trying to compete every year. I think our fans are such that if we put a good product on the field, they will be there. We never want to test that theory of a lousy product. We tested it a few times but never for very long.

On dynamic pricing and season ticket holder backlash.

I think it was a successful foray into that. Season ticket holders have already been dealing with dynamic pricing for the last five or six years in terms of the secondary market place. You buy your tickets for a fixed price and you can unload some of them if you can't make every last game on the secondary market. Then they float on the secondary market.

What was happening is we would sell you your season tickets and then like in the upper deck areas, the higher seats not likely to be held by season ticket holder areas, brokers buy those at the beginning of the year. When a hot game would come, they would raise those prices and sell them in the secondary market if we sold out.

Or more importantly, in a game that wasn't in high demand – let's say it is a midweek game against a not-so-great opponent, kind of rainy weather – they would dump those tickets on the secondary market for much less than face value. We were sitting there selling that same ticket for double, triple that price.

That seemed crazy to us, so we instituted dynamic pricing so we could float and be the primary source for where people came to get their tickets. Not with the idea of making an extra dollar – although a little extra would be nice – but the idea was, particularly in those low end games, we could start dropping our price so that fans will buy from us, come to the ballpark, put more butts in seats.

The key to that, though, is that we didn't want season-holders to think that we were undercutting them. They commit in January to help us with the way we run our business. When those tickets go up and down in those sections where we have season ticket holders, we will not go below what you paid as a season ticket holder for your price. That is our philosophy behind it.

What happens though is that there are few complaints we do get with people saying, ‘Well, the guy next to me, I sat next to him and he says he got his ticket for less than I paid as a season-holder.' He may have, but that was in the secondary market and not from us, from StubHub or some place like that. There is not much you can control about that.

But we are in the mode of making sure that we protect season holders. We give them the venue and the process for offloading tickets they cannot use, which I think is key to maintaining that season ticket holder base, and them not undercut them when we are pricing seats dynamically in areas where they have season tickets.

Note: For those interested in Opening Day and Cubs game tickets, the Cardinals are accepting registrations until February 16. A number of other packs and all-inclusive tickets are already available, but regular single-game ticket sales will not open until March 2.

Other articles in this series previously posted:
A Look Inside St. Louis Cardinals Revenues
Cardinals Competing as a Mid-Market Club
St. Louis Cardinals Player Insurance and Analytics

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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