I have been a Mets mini-plan holder since 2002. When the Mets moved into Citi Field last year, I decided to purchase a second mini-plan. I will not be renewing my seats next year because my better half has a full season ticket package and we plan on splitting those tickets in 2011.
When I first became a mini-plan holder, I was thrilled to have tickets to so many games in the same seats. After the Mets moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field, the demand for tickets was great. In fact, I had numerous parties inquiring if I had any extra tickets to sell. Then the Mets fell out of contention long before the last day of the season and the requests for my tickets subsided. When I tried to sell my tickets to games I couldn't attend on StubHub, there were times I could not find a buyer, even after I had marked down my tickets to as low as $4.86.
This year, the fans have stayed away from Citi Field in droves. In 2009, the Mets averaged 38,941 tickets sold per home game, ranking seventh in the major leagues in home attendance. This year, the average home attendance for Mets games has dropped to 33,335. They now rank 12th in the majors in home attendance.
Whereas the Mets sold 92.7% of their available seats in 2009, they have only sold 79.4% of Citi Field's seats this season. Small market teams like the Milwaukee Brewers are selling more tickets to their home games (on average, 34,655 Brewers tickets are sold per home game) than the Mets are.
Earlier this week, I received a phone call from the Mets ticket office. I was offered two free field level tickets to a future Mets game to be played this season. The representative explained that the Mets were offering these free tickets to their mini-plan holders as a measure of goodwill to thank us for supporting the team. I thought this was very kind of them, but there was one catch. The tickets would not be mailed to the recipient. They would be left at the will-call window at Citi Field, where they could be picked up on the day of the game.
I don't know about you, but at first glance, it appears as if the Mets are concerned that by giving fans their free tickets in advance of the game, those tickets would find their way on StubHub. Once there, they could either be sold cheaply to another party (although it would still represent a profit to the mini-plan holder), or they might remain unsold and the seats would remain empty.
By making the fans pick up their tickets at Citi Field on the day of the game, there's less of a chance that the tickets will be re-sold online or that the fans picking up the tickets will not use them, since they are already there.
The Mets know that their decrease in home attendance will only continue during September, with the Mets out of contention and games against other non-contenders such as Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Washington. They do not want fans to come to Citi Field dressed as empty seats. Of course, they're going to say the right thing, like "we want to thank you for your support", but any intelligent Mets fan can see right through it. The Mets want fannies in the seats in September and apparently, they're willing to give away field level tickets (i.e. the seats that TV cameras pan to regularly) to save face and to try to retain their mini-plan holders' business.
Let's just say that I didn't fall for it. There will be at least two field level seats that will remain unused for an upcoming home game. I guess I should expect the ticket office to call me again this winter when I don't renew my two mini-plans.