Mike McCann / Minor Leagues
BUYING TICKETS TO MINOR LEAGUE GAMES
By Mike McCann
Buying tickets to minor league baseball games isn't always as easy as it seems. Teams sell tickets in many different fashions and some make it easier than others to get what you want. One method that is growing increasingly popular is buying tickets over the internet.
Generally, I will get tickets at the gate for the games that I go to. I prefer this method because if something comes up or the weather is bad, I don't feel as much of an obligation to go to the game. When I do this, I make sure to call ahead to verify that there will be tickets available when I show up. I'm not always able to get tickets at the gate, and I have to order them ahead of time. Most teams allow sales over the phone and that works well because it is just like talking with the person at the ticket booth and you can get the seat that you want.
The internet opened up a whole new world for ticket sales. Teams go through many different companies for their ticketing interface, so you will see something very different as you look between teams. Unfortunately, you are stuck using that interface if you choose to buy tickets over the internet. Most times when buying tickets on the internet, a surcharge will be added for buying tickets. I'm definitely not a fan of that, but sometimes you just don't have a choice.
There is a large range of how teams set this up. Some will allow you to indicate which pricing level you would like to purchase and they choose the seats at that price for you. I'm not a big fan of this since you have no say whatsoever of the tickets you are receiving.
The next better option is that teams will allow you to select the section that you would like seats in. The problem with this is that I would generally not choose Row 16, if I can get tickets in the next section over for the same price in Row 2. You also wouldn't be able to put any preference on the ticket location such as sitting on the aisle.
Other sites allow you to pick the section you want, but then comes back with a selection of tickets that they have made. The algorithm for determining which tickets to choose is based on the section and number of seats you want, but it isn't always exactly what you are looking for. But at least you can see what seats you will get before you purchase them.
One site that has a really nice ticketing interface is the Staten Island Yankees, run by Glitnir Ticketing. This site allows you see exactly which seats are available and pick the specific seats that you would like to buy tickets for. To me this is the ideal way to design things. I want to be able to see all of my options and choose exactly where I sit. It's definitely well done.
Another option that many teams have now is to print your tickets online. This is pretty nice if you want to avoid waiting in line at the will call window. I'm not a big fan of this just because I am a ticket collector and like to have the team's printed ticket to save. I'm the exception though since most only care about being able to get into the stadium.
Don't be surprised if some changes start to take place for minor league websites and ticketing in the next few years. Major League Baseball recently bought Tickets.com for all of its ticketing. They are going to create a uniform ticketing method for all major league teams beginning next season. There is also talk of major league baseball making uniform websites for its affiliated minor league teams. If this were to occur, I would definitely be disappointed. It is nice to see all of the different styles of websites that each contain some information unique to its team. I'm still unhappy about the redesigns of the major league baseball sites to make those all the same. I don't think they do a very good job presenting information to the public.
It's definitely nice to have a number of purchasing options for baseball tickets. And it's good to see that teams are starting to go to very fan friendly ticketing interfaces. I'm sure the future will bring even more advances.
I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an e-mail and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.