Recently, I published a little piece on the Angels’ 2016 attendance numbers, expressing bewilderment at their standings compared to the rest of the league. At the time, they were second highest in the AL, coming right behind the New York Yankees, with an average home attendance of 37,948. They’ve since fallen behind the Blue Jays for 3rd highest in the AL, 7th overall. Not too shabby!
That is, until you put the Big A through the eyeball test. There was something very incongruous about these numbers, but as any fan of MLB in the last decade or so knows, these figures are inflated like a Macy’s day balloon. They count "tickets sold", not actual turnstile clicks. They don’t count no-shows. Just tickets sold, and when you know public interest is at lower levels than previous years, and seats are often empty, yet the team says they’re "sold out", that just means there is some funny business going on.
That article ended up putting me in touch with a veteran ticket reseller, and he talked to me about this on the condition of anonymity; i'll hereby refer to him as Ticket Guy. It all started when he told me that there is probably a good reason for the decent attendance numbers+empty seats every night, and that’s 714 Tickets.
Now, first off, I have no qualms whatsoever with 714 Tickets (except for when Roger Lodge does his "Jesse’s Girl"-inspired radio spot for them). This is just the perspective of someone who is in the ticket biz, trying to pull back the curtain for us fans. It may boil down to just a rumor, but it's a juicy rumor, nonetheless.
Here’s why Ticket Guy says the Angels may be okay with tickets sold, but those butts sure aren't in the seats:
"This year, 714 tickets entered into an exclusive deal to resell tickets blocking other smaller resellers from the top premium games. They bought huge blocks of tickets. Turns out they picked a terrible year to do so. That is why the tickets havent been as low on the resell market for the "best" games. They have very little competition.
Resellers used to buy wholesale from the group sales department. 714 most likely agreed to be on the hook for a ton of seats to block the smaller guys. That is most likely why you see great attendance numbers but not the fans to match.
The Angels have dynamic pricing, which is a function of supply and how much time is left. 714 essentially scooped up all the cheaper tickets away from the fans and put them on the secondary market which allows the Angels to raise their prices quicker. ....until nobody buys them because they are terrible"
Now, I've tried to reach out to 714 Tickets, but I could only get sales/marketing people who didn't really seem to know about any of these machinations, or an exclusivity deal with the team in general. Could 714 Tickets be propping up the Halos' tickets sold (attendance) numbers this year? If Ticket Guy is correct, then this creates an interesting marketplace for the fans...one that may not be in their best interests. When I asked him why he thought 714 Tickets might want to extend themselves in such a way this year, he said the following:
"The reason why 714 went for it was to get exclusive wholesale rights and somewhat control the secondary market pricing. Many resellers would panic as the game got closer and would lower their prices. In a free market, sellers would lower their prices to sell their tickets before others. Now, 714 cut a deal that ensures it would be less likely that will happen. Proof will be what prices are on Stub Hub versus Yanks and Red Sox."
Pretty interesting stuff, and while it's just a rumor, could this go far to explain why the stadium for most games just doesn't jibe with what the attendance the Angels are reporting? If 714 Tickets tried to corner a market this year, does that mean they might let the process go back to normal next season? Perhaps, but for now, Ticket Guy isn't too chaffed by any of this:
"I was initially furious, but now I should send them a thank you card."