John Mann is one of the nine finalists in The Washington Post’s Greatest D.C. Sports Fan Contest. For Round 1, we asked our contestants to tell us what one thing they would change about one of D.C.’s professional sports teams. Read John’s response below, then tell us in the comments if you think he should be one of the six finalists to continue to the next round of competition.
A new trend has emerged at sporting events: the empty prime seat. At most live events, empty seats are the worst available, such as obstructed view or the furthest from the action. Yet game after game at Nationals Park, the best seats, the ones fans covet, are empty and visible during every pitch on television.
Frequent flyers don’t expect to pay the same price for each flight from DC to LA. Why should fans expect to pay the same price for an April baseball game on a cold Tuesday night as they would for a Saturday night game in July? For season ticket holders, some games will end up being worth more and others less, but the average will determine the value to the buyer. But on a single game basis, four factors should determine the price: date, rival, scarcity, and uniqueness.
•Date: More fans show up when it is warm and when school is out, price accordingly.
•Rival: Charge more for the Orioles, less for the Astros.
•Scarcity: If parts of the stadium for a game tend to sell out, raise the prices. Take advantage of that demand. But if the sections behind home plate are 90% unsold, reduce prices.
•Uniqueness: Fans will try to time the Bryce Harper debut or when Strasburg pitches.
The best seats may sell for $500 some nights and $75 other nights. The point is to fill those seats, but without giving them away. Value is important. The more a fan values the experience, the more likely they are to return. Fans who feel they paid too much for their seat are less likely to buy again. Remember, high definition televisions and surround sound speakers in living rooms are in direct competition with live events. It is far better to sell seats at reduced cost than leave them empty. This should be a win-win for the fans and the team. The Nationals will increase their revenue and fans get access to otherwise unaffordable seats. Finding the sweet spot of supply and demand is critical to eliminating the empty prime seat.
Weigh In: Tell us what you think of John’s argument in the comments. Our judges will choose six of the nine finalists to advance to Round 2 based on a combination or your comments and their opinions. Does John deserve to advance? Why or why not?
Read each contestant’s Round 1 essay
Meet the finalists