When to Buy World Series Tickets
What a World Series! I can’t wait to see the Phillies try to break “the curse of Billy Penn,” which has prevented any major Philly sports franchise from winning anything since 1983.
That’s right, not a single sporting success across the four major sports franchises over 25 years, which adds up to a century-long accumulated losing streak.
I suspect that there are a few of us who are thinking of trying to buy World Series tickets; and for most of us, this means visiting the secondary market. Fortunately, a timely research paper by Duke’s Andrew Sweeting offers some pretty useful advice.
Sweeting has meticulously crunched the data on baseball ticket sales for 2007 on StubHub.com, and he cross-checked his analysis with data from another (anonymized) online source. He documents a rather striking fact: the prices of baseball tickets tend to fall through time.
So here’s my advice: If you are looking to buy World Series tickets, you should wait until a day or two before the game. In fact, as the graph below shows, this may yield savings of 25 percent, or more!
You might be concerned that this result simply reflects all the better tickets being sold early. But Sweeting’s dataset (of over three million ticket sales!) contains such amazing detail that the chart reflects comparisons among tickets within the same game, section, and row.
In fact, Sweeting’s biggest concern in my giving this advice is that his data cover only regular season games, while different patterns may apply to the post-season. But the economic forces behind Sweeting’s law probably apply even more strongly to the World Series. He argues that regular season-ticket prices are higher in advance of game day because people have to make plans in advance, which increases demand.
It seems likely that a greater share of the World Series crowd will be traveling to Philly for the game, and these folks will be especially keen to purchase game tickets before investing in airline tickets. As such, expect today’s ticket prices to be sky-high as these folks make their plans — and hopefully prices will start falling over the next few days.
I’ve only ever been to one World Series game — in 2002 when my stepfather George Parsons and I waited until the last minute and nabbed tickets for Game 5 for under $200.
Similar tickets had been over $500 a week prior. Given that experience, you know I will be looking for some last-minute deals later this week.
Attending a World Series game is a pretty special event, and I will always remember October 24, 2002, as a special night of father and son bonding. In our case, it was helped by the fact that we were cheering for the San Francisco Giants (I was teaching at Stanford at the time, so they were the local team) as they pounded the Angels, 16-4. Unfortunately, they lost the next two games on the road.
Perhaps an understanding of Sweeting’s law can help put a special night like this in the reach of a few more fans.