I received an e-mail on Wednesday afternoon inviting us to attend a conference call that evening with Dave Howard, the Mets EVP of Business Operations, to discuss the 2011 ticket pricing. The New York press corps regularly sits in on Mets conference calls, but this one wouldn't include the Davidoffs, Rubins, and Klapisches of the local media horde. This call was specifically for the Princes, the Roses, the Sharks, and, due to a scheduling conflict I had, the Castellanos of the Mets blogdom, who were treated like a mini press corps whose work is read by thousands of Mets fans every day.
Dave opened the call by thanking us for what we do and why we do it.
"This is a first for me and I'm excited to do it because you are truly the voice of the fans and you have an important part in communicating with Mets fans in terms of what is going on in and around the team. We do appreciate that and, just speaking personally, I do appreciate the passion that you bring to this. It's one of those things that's special and unique to the Mets, and it's very interesting to me how much more activity and interest there is in the blogosphere for the Mets than there is for the Yankees. I think it's a very interesting element, and I think it speaks to who we are as an organization, as a franchise, and more importantly who our fans are."
He went on to explain the finer points of the Mets 2011 ticket pricing, most of which you can read in their press release, and then he took questions from the field. It's a good thing Rob was able to take this call, because he goes to 20 or so games a year while I typically only make it out to a few (traffic from northern New Jersey and the comfiness of my couch usually conspire to keep me from the ballpark), so he had more of a personal interest in the ramifications of the new pricing schedule.
Dave was patient in answering everyone's questions, most of which were about specific pricing levels and access to amenities. The gist of the whole thing was this: The Mets lowered prices on tickets that didn't move well last year and maintained pricing (or raised pricing, as they did nominally on the lowest-priced Promenade tickets on value days from $11 to $12) based on volume moved and after-market sales figures from places like StubHub. Rob actually asked about the nominal $1 price increase of the Promenade seats, and the upshot is that, yes, the raw price for the cheapest seats went up, but due to the way the Mets restructured the variable pricing plan -- i.e., that tickets to marquee games cost more than tickets to games of lesser interest -- there will actually be 30 value games this season (where the lowest ticket price is $12) versus just ten of those games in 2010. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff.
After all questions were asked and answered, Dave wrapped things up with the promise of good things to come.
"You're an important part of how we get information and communicate with our fans so we'll try to do more of this if it's something that you have interest in doing."
It's not a coincidence that the Mets chose this particular call on which to include the bloggers. While the status of the managerial search or Jose Reyes's option are probably of more general interest to fans, the cost to attend a Mets game actually has a tangible effect on the lives (and wallets) of Mets fans, and the organization clearly thought it was important to use bloggers as a proxy to assuage any concerns about the new ticket program.
Journalism degrees and BBWAA credentials aside, the real difference between bloggers and the mainstream media couldn't be clearer: We actually care what happens to the Mets. Reporters want a good story; we want a good team. It's that simple, and while the degree to which Sandy Alderson is pushing the Mets into this blogger-friendly direction is still unknown, the wall between schools old and new is crumbling just a little bit. Our seat might still only be at the kiddie table, but we're out of the basement and into the dining room. It's incremental progress, yes, but progress to be certain.