Hot off the Cubs cutting ticket package prices across some sections, the White Sox made their move to lure more fans to U.S. Cellular Field in 2013, and some milestones are involved.
For single game tickets, it'll be possible to grab a lower-deck seat for $20 without waiting for a Monday or hunting for dynamic pricing (contingent on premiere/prime dates -- Opening Day and Cubs games, etc.). The lower-deck corners will be available for $20, and the upper-deck corners will be down to $7. These are good marketing points. Dynamic deals are nice, but they don't do much to dissuade people that your average Sox game is an expense. Now they can say it's $7 to get in the park, and $20 to get downstairs. That's an improvement.
You can also see the same strategy to sell the unsold sections in the season-ticket prices. Full-season plans for the outfield and upper deck are dropping by an average of 26 percent, and cuts to the weekday/weekend prices for those sections are just shy of matching them (25 percent).
To give you an idea of scale of the reduction for full-season packages from 2012 to 2013:
- Outfield reserved: 30 percent
- Bleachers: 32 percent
- Premium upper box: 17 percent
- Upper box: 28 percent
- Upper reserved: 17 percent
The cuts in the weekday plans are even steeper, with cuts similar in proportion, but ranging from 23 to 38 percent.
And regardless of where you sit, it will be cheaper to park. The Sox will shave $5 off the price of their lots Monday through Saturday ($25 to $20), which is a novel development. It's still not a thrill to park for $20, but it's closer to reasonable.
Here's better news: On Sundays, parking will only cost $10. With the Red Line out of service, this was probably the year to give some ground in this department.
So what's next?
The rest of the ticketing news usually rolls out over the next month or so. Since this is all good news, there will probably be a heartworm pill somewhere in this Snausage. We saw that happen last year as the Sox buried some cost-recouping in the ticket packages. Still, it's worth noting that the price reductions only ranged from 2 to 18 percent. This year, the reductions start at 17 percent, so the savings should be much more apparent for a lot of people.
The other dominoes:
The remaining sections: Since the Sox didn't announce reductions in the pricier sections (premium, lower and club boxes), those sections will either see their season-ticket costs remain flat, or increase some. The same conclusion can't be drawn for single-game tickets, since those are released later.
Premium/prime dates: Last year, the release of Ozzie Guillen forced the rebranding of the Ozzie Plan, which the Sox solved by adding a game (Pick 14), and making an additional expensive game mandatory. There was heat on Brooks Boyer to explain the empty seats for prime dates like the Cubs and Yankees series, so it'll be interesting to see how many of those inflated-price games survive the restructuring, and to what degree.
(UPDATE: According to Dan Hayes, "Brooks Boyer, the team’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said the team has eliminated prime and premier pricing." Looks like only Opening Day and Cubs games will have separate pricing levels.)
Family packages: The surprising reduction in the Sunday parking price makes me wonder if the Sox have other ideas in mind to help get more minivans to the game.