One thing caught my eye last week and you might have missed it since there was so much else going on. The Yankees and Orioles played a baseball game last Tuesday. That’s not really news. However, they started play at 11:08pm ET after a four-hour rain delay, and the game did not end until 2:15am. Yep, you read that right. Guess the kids were late to school after the game?
Apparently, the Commissioner’s Office called the Yankees and told them to get the game played. The Yankees, in an effort to make sure the folks who had tickets to the game (it was played so no rain-checks, right?) announced that ticket-holders to the game would be given some form of a free ticket offer to “any Yankees game – next season”. Having worked in a sports league, I know that the postponement and rescheduling of games is a nightmare, especially given travel, labor rules, and fan reaction. But since it rained throughout the game, maybe the risk of injury should have prevailed in their thinking? And not just to the players.
What fan will buy advance tickets knowing that they may be compelled to sit though a deluge until 2am to watch their favorite team play? It’s nice that there’s going to be some sort of compensation in the form of “free” tickets, but how free are they when fans will still have to pay for parking, drinks, food, and other “per caps” that are so near and dear to teams’ hearts?
The press response here in NY was pretty bad. The fan response ranged from a shrug of the shoulders to outrage. That’s the injury I described earlier. When fans expect to be treated like garbage, even the reputation of one of the best brands in all of sports can’t salvage every one of the potential lost sales. The Yanks took a lot of grief over the outrageous ticket prices when they moved to the new Yankee Stadium. This won’t help.
I don’t mean to pick on MLB or the Yankees. Any of us who are custodians of a brand are sometimes compelled to make no-win decisions such as this play/no play one. But in my mind, the decision should always come down on the side of the customer.
How would you have handled it?