Dodgers season-ticket holders receive the gift of higher-priced seats
The Dodgers sent their season-ticket holders a holiday present, a mug decorated with the team logo and the words “National League Champions 2017.” For some of those fans, the Dodgers also sent a bill with a steep price hike for the 2018 season.
The bills arrived late last week, with price increases above 20% in certain sections in the loge, reserve, top deck and pavilion and above 30% in other sections, according to two dozen fans who provided information to The Times.
The Dodgers declined to disclose their 2018 season prices but pledged to do so “shortly after the new year,” said David Siegel, vice president of ticket sales.
Siegel did say the price increases were not so steep in every section. In the field-level seats between the bases, he said, the increases ranged from 3% to 5%.
He said not every season-ticket holder has been invoiced and not every price has been finalized.
“We are still evaluating our season-seat business,” he said.
However, he said, the price is final for the fans who have received invoices. He said the Dodgers’ lowest season ticket is set at $13 per game, on the reserve level by the foul pole. He also said the team would accommodate fans who decide the new prices are too expensive.
“We intend to work with every single one of them to find a seat and price point that works for them,” he said.
He said his tickets were priced at $10 per game when Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the team in 2012, rose steadily to $18 last season, then jumped 28% for next season.
“I don’t know how you justify raising my price $5 because they went to the World Series and lost,” he said.
The Angels have committed about $180 million this winter to major leaguers and top international prospects, including outfielder Justin Upton, infielders Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler and Japanese pitcher-designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.
The Dodgers have made no major signings. They are projected to save about $100 million next season in player payroll and luxury tax. By next summer, they could make about $75 million from the sale of a minority stake in the team, and from their share of the sale of Major League Baseball’s technology arm to the Walt Disney Co.
Siegel, asked what costs might justify a significant price increase given the significant drop in the Dodgers’ player payroll, cited what he called the “value” of a season ticket, including a 30% discount over single-game prices, discounts on merchandise, and experiences not available to the general public.
“We will always rest on the value of the ticket,” he said.
Luevano said his seats, on the reserve level and down the left-field line, have increased from $16 in 2015 to $23 next season. Billy Caganap of Chino Hills said his seats, on the loge level and also down the left-field line, have increased from $17 in 2015 to $23 last season and $28 next season.
Those fans, like others, have said the price increases make it more difficult to sell tickets that otherwise might go unused. For the fan interested in attending a less-attractive game — say, a midweek game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with no giveaway item — tickets could easily be found for the minimum $6 last season on StubHub.
Overall, however, there has been no significant change in the number of tickets resold or the average resale price at Dodger Stadium, according to StubHub spokesperson Jessica Erskine.
In Luevano’s section, she said, the average resale price declined from $27 in 2015 to $24 last season. In Caganap’s section, she said, the average resale price increased from $23 in 2015 to $30 last season.
The Dodgers use analytics as intensely in determining ticket prices as they do in determining where to position their infielders.
“We take everything into account,” Siegel said. “We look at every single secondary market site. This is literally a 12-month-a-year process.”
The Dodgers said they had “several thousand” fans on a waiting list for season tickets two winters ago, but they cleared the waiting list last winter. Siegel said the Dodgers plan to contact fans on the current waiting list in coming weeks.
The Dodgers could have assessed their most loyal fans a more modest increase in their season-ticket price, or could have not also increased their parking price, which might have provided a cushion of goodwill against down times.
Instead, the Dodgers have priced their season tickets at what they consider the market rate. They have led the major leagues in attendance every year under Guggenheim ownership, selling at least 3.7 million tickets in each of five full seasons. They have won the National League West for five consecutive seasons as well, and they are favored to win again next season.
“Our play on the field speaks for itself,” Siegel said.
When a postseason appearance is assumed and a World Series encore seems within reach, the opportunity to buy playoff tickets at face value can make a season-ticket purchase more attractive, even if not every regular-season ticket can be resold at face value.
“I don’t want to miss out,” Caganap said. “I go in every year thinking this could be the year. If I don’t renew and this is the year they win the World Series, I’d kick myself.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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