Confronted with a season with fewer than 2 million fans for the first time since 2004, the Chicago White Sox are fighting back with lower prices.
A day after the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs reduced ticket prices by 2 percent for 30 percent of the seats at Wrigley Field, the White Sox made even deeper cuts.
Armed with research of fans conducted by Rich Luker, creator of the ESPN Sports Poll, the team announced that it is dropping prices on more than 54 percent of full-season tickets by an average of 26 percent. Bleacher seats on a season basis dropped 32 percent, which means a savings of $2,800 for the 2013 season compared to this year's price.
Hoping to have fans come to the box office instead of automatically going to resale sites like StubHub, the White Sox announced two lower ticket prices that will not be dynamically priced by the team for the entire season -- corner lower-deck seats for $20 and corner upper-deck seats for $7. That means there will always be 5,000 tickets per game at these prices. The price of parking also dropped from $25 and $23 to $20 a game.
This season, the White Sox used both variable pricing and dynamic pricing. Variable pricing was based on the demand for certain opponents at the start of the season. Dynamic pricing adjusted to market conditions closer to game time.
Brooks Boyer, the team's senior vice president of sales and marketing, told me that the team isn't looking for any excuses.
"I could tell you that we didn't draw because of the economy," Boyer said. "But that didn't seem to hurt Detroit. They drew 3 million fans and they're in a lot worse shape than Chicago is."
Boyer said research showed that fans thought of the team's regular, prime and premium variable pricing negatively, so the team has gotten rid of it for 2013. Dynamic pricing will still exist, aside from the guaranteed cheap seats in the lower and upper deck; those seats are guaranteed not to fluctuate save for Opening Day and games against the Cubs.
Boyer said "price is not a silver bullet" to help sell the roughly 40 percent of tickets that went unsold this past year. As the next season approaches, Boyer said the team will engage in other strategies to get people to the park.
Said Boyer: "Having more fans in the park is good for the players and the fans, too."