Thursday, October 20, 2005

Brokers - Supply, Demand and Circumference

Like most, if not all of you, I struck out trying to get tickets to the World Series through Ticketmaster. For me, the White Sox going to the World Series was a lifelong dream, something that I always thought I'd pay a lot of money to see. Like most of you, I'm also pretty shocked by the prices that are being charged by ticket brokers to buy World Series tickets. I've seen a pretty steady range of $700-$800 for the worst seats in the house (upperdeck corners near the foul poles), and up to $9000 per seat for the Scout seats.

I do not think the seats are selling all that well at those prices. I just checked one broker's web site (no link, I do not want to give out free advertising), and there were a total of 820 tickets in the broker's inventory for Game 1 alone. That's approximately 2% of US Cellular Field, which holds about 41,000 people when loaded to the absolute gills. Brokers may share a portion of their inventory, which may account for some of that figure, but it looks like the supply is still going to be there. Since today is the cut-off for Friday Fed-Ex delivery, prices might be dropping tomorrow. I'd also be interested to see what prices are like on Saturday. My guess is that seats can be had in the afternoon for as little as $300 per ticket.

However, here's an additional wrinkle - the police are putting up a
security bubble around US Cellular for the World Series. No one without tickets will be able to get into the bubble. The bubble will extend approximately1 block all around the stadium. While that may not seem like much, the circumference of this bubble is probably about one mile. Since no-one without tickets will be allowed into the bubble, there will be no market for ticket brokers within the bubble. All the people inside will have tickets.

Accordingly, the brokers will have to work the outside of the bubble. However, the circumference of the bubble will likely be something like 10 times as large as the circumference of US Cellular Field itself, meaning that the ticket brokers will need more salesmen to cover the same number of fans going near the stadium to buy tickets. Because there will necessarily be more ground to cover, the number of fans any particular salesman encounters will be lower. In other words, the bubble will alter the supply and demand equation will be altered in favor of the buyers. Because of this, I would not be surprised to see tickets selling for a small markup on the outside of the bubble near game time. But that's only a theory. I would like nothing more than to see a bunch of ticket brokers basically giving away tickets at face price near the bubble. On the other hand, I would hate to see empty seats inside the stadium.

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