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Making Sense of the Mets' 2012 Season Ticket Announcement

Unless you're a season ticket holder, the announcements the Mets made yesterday about their ticket pricing changes for 2012 won't mean very much to you, at least as long as the team isn't a serious playoff contender.

It was very clear on the conference call with Dave Howard that the team's top priority is locking up as many ticket sales as possible through full-season tickets. Howard boasted that the team's retention rate from 2010 to 2011 was very high despite the lackluster product on the field, and the Mets are doing everything in their power to bring back as many customers as possible. In order to do so, they'll keep providing perks - joining a player on the field before the game, announcing the Mets' lineup, awkwardly pronouncing "play ball" before the game* - and either drop the ticket prices or keep them the same.

* Seriously, season ticket holders, only once in at least eighty games at Citi Field have I heard someone say the phrase the right way. "Play ball!" sounds so much better than "playyyyyyyyyyyy balllllllllll."

If you don't already have season tickets, the Mets are offering "limited" quantities of seats for under $1,000 a year. You know, the seats in the upper half of the upper deck in left field, officially entitled the Promenade Outfield. Dave Howard said those seats would include sections 532 through 536, but he probably meant to include 537 and 538 since they're the worst two sections in the park. If the Mets are calling the offer "limited," I'll predict that the demand will be "non-existent." Aside from Opening Day and the Yankees' annual visit to Queens, these seats are empty.

On the upside, the Mets will finally give club access to all season ticket holders, regardless of the section in which they have seats. Considering they're granting access to the standard clubs and not the really exclusive ones like the Delta Club, it's surprising that it took this long. The clubs are rarely overcrowded, and by opening the doors to more season ticket holders, the team can probably pull in more revenue with expensive food and drink.

For those without season tickets, the big news item is the Mets' implementation of dynamic pricing. The Mets have gotten everyone used to variable prices over the past few years by assigning ticket prices to a series, or sometimes an individual game, based upon the day of the week and the opposing team. There will still be variable prices at the outset of the season, but they will be subject to change as demand rises and falls.

On the low end - think a Wednesday night against the Nationals - the Mets promise not to price tickets below the discounted rates given to season ticket holders. That means Stubhub will still be the first place to go to pick up cheap tickets. On the high end, there is no ceiling to how high the Mets will go with prices, but they're already working with pretty high prices all around. If the Mets are somehow fighting for a playoff spot in September, face value prices will rise, but there's a point at which people would not buy the tickets. If anything, the market for tickets on Stubhub could keep the Mets in check.

What's ironic about all of this is that the Mets are increasing their ability to compete with ticket prices on Stubhub, the grand majority of which are set by the same season ticket holders they are trying so hard to please.