Yankees Balk at New StubHub Ticket Pick-Up Center Outside Stadium
CONCOURSE — The latest skirmish between the Yankees and StubHub, the online ticket exchange the Bombers cut ties with recently, is being waged right on the team's 161st Street doorstep.
Now that the Yankees have created their own ticket resale site, the Yankees Ticket Exchange, and banished StubHub tickets from its will-call windows, StubHub has decided to open a ticket pick-up center steps from the stadium it says will be up and running by the home opener on April 1.
The Yankees are balking, and have cited a state law that forbids ticket-selling within 1,500 feet of large venues, a zone StubHub’s store falls well within, and the team is now “considering our options,” according to a spokeswoman.
Undeterred, StubHub says its site will only permit ticket pick-ups, not sales, and shows no signs of backing down.
“We believe in an open marketplace,” said StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman. “We’re looking forward to competing with the Yankees Ticket Exchange.”
In December, the Yankees were one of just two teams — the other was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — that opted out of a five-year Major League Baseball deal to keep StubHub as the league’s official ticket reseller.
The Yankees have complained that StubHub’s unrestricted market allows speculators to push resale ticket prices below face value, undercutting the team’s prices and driving down attendance. StubHub says the Yankees’ steep ticket prices spurred their sagging attendance over the last couple seasons.
This month, the team unveiled the Yankees Ticket Exchange, its own official secondary ticket market, which it created with Ticketmaster.
The exchange offers a reduced fee for season-ticket holders who want to sell spare tickets (5 percent versus StubHub’s 15 percent), a barcode-transfer validation system and options to download resale tickets or pick them up at the stadium — all exclusive features meant to lure fans from StubHub.
“Fans must be careful when purchasing from unauthorized websites,” Yankees general managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said in part in a statement this month announcing the exchange’s launch. “We encourage fans to post and purchase tickets only through ‘Yankees Ticket Exchange,’ the only authorized resale website,” for the team.
When it became clear last fall that the Yankees planned to dump StubHub, the eBay-owned company decided to scoop up the storefront at 68 E. 161st St., a recently closed Jeans Plus apparel store that once sold Yankees caps and jerseys.
StubHub maintains about a dozen permanent pick-up spots nationwide, including spots near Times Square and the Barclays Center, as well as pop-up locations for big events.
Buyers will be able to purchase tickets elsewhere, including on mobile devices, then retrieve them at the storefront up until game time — unlike the Yankees’ exchange, which will shut off three hours before games begin.
StubHub will charge $2 this season for all baseball tickets (with a maximum fee of $10 per buyer), regardless of whether fans have paper tickets delivered to them, PDF files emailed to them or they pick up the tickets in person, Lehrman said.
As in the past, the site will not set minimum prices for any tickets — a policy that has allowed Yankee ticket prices to tumble below face value for some games. (An analysis by SeatGeek found nearly two-thirds of Yankees tickets for some sections were being sold below face value during the first two months of the 2012 season — some for $90 less than their box-office price.)
Many expect the Yankees will use their exchange to set minimum prices for seats at some games.
“Any time you put a price floor on something, that’s not in the best interest of fans,” said Lehrman, calling minimum prices a means of “artificially inflating” value.
Alice McGillion, the Yankees spokeswoman, said the team is considering a price floor, but has not made a final decision.
Even if some tickets on the Yankees’ exchange end up more expensive than those listed on StubHub, the team is betting that buyers will value the added security of resale tickets with unique barcodes, which now only Ticketmaster can issue for Yankees tickets.
“While [StubHub] will say they’ll guarantee the price,” McGillion said, referring to the company’s FanProtect Guarantee, “they don’t guarantee the time you lost or the embarrassment you suffer when you don’t have a real ticket.”
But now, if StubHub buyers do have trouble with their Yankees tickets, they can simply walk a couple blocks to the new StubHub pick-up center.
McGillion, however, said this pick-up service represents “the completion of sale,” and so violates the 1,500-feet rule.
Lehrman insisted the company is “well aware” of the sales ban within that radius, “so we won’t be allowing that.”
Either way, the Bronx Bombers-StubHub battle seems far from over, said Will Flaherty, spokesman for SeatGeek, a ticket search engine that earns a commission when people buy from secondary markets, including StubHub.
“If StubHub needs to build the place 1,501 feet away,” Flaherty said, “they will.”