How the Astros could get you to buy season tickets


If you are on this site reading articles, it is pretty safe to assume you are a big Astros fan. Despite your fandom, I would be willing to be that a large majority of you (including myself) are not season ticket holders. According to this article, the Astros are trying to figure out why that is the case. Houston is taking their analytical approach on the field and applying it to every area of the organization – including ticket sales.

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Ray Ebert, Senior Director of Information Technology for the Astros, outlined Houston’s plan in simple terms.

"“We are certainly using predictive analysis to evaluate players,” Ebert said. “But we’re also applying analytics to run what-if scenarios so we can convert single-game ticket buyers into season ticket holders and keep the season ticket holders we have.”"

The Astros are trying to get fans like you and I to transition from every-once-and-awhile ticket buyers, to full-time investors in the team. Obviously that is easier said than done, but I have some ideas for getting fans to buy 83 home game tickets in bulk.

First and foremost, season ticket holders deserve more benefits than receiving “behind-the-scenes tours and access to front office and team personnel through exclusive Season Ticket Holder Events,” as advertises. I say this in the nicest way possible – no one wants to pay to sit through 83 Astros games if all they receive in return is a tour or two and an appearance from Jeff Luhnow.

Let’s look at the numbers. One seat in the Crawford Boxes for the entire 2014 season sets you back $2,656. There simply aren’t that many fans who are going to buy – or more realistically two, three or four – season tickets without a price break. The Astros advertise “You are guaranteed the best price on your seats,” but what does that actually mean?

Well, I ran the numbers for them by adding up the price of one ticket in the Crawford Boxes for each game this season. With dynamic pricing, tickets ranged from $41 to a ludicrous $97 for each game of a weekend series with the Red Sox and $121 for Opening Day. The total of all of these tickets is $4,441. That is significantly more expensive ($1,785, in fact) than a season ticket.

So if the Astros are offering that much of a discount, why on earth are they not advertising it? I had to spend 15 minutes copying and pasting numbers into Excel in order to figure out what the difference in price was for a season ticket holder. I didn’t crunch the numbers for other sections at Minute Maid, but from the looks of it the results would be similar.

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Maybe that is still too much money – even with the discount – for you to consider buying season tickets. I know it is for me, which is why I offer this second suggestion.

If the Astros want to put people in seats this year by way of season tickets, they should open a section specifically for one-year season ticket holders at an even more discounted price. Houston could guarantee one section of Minute Maid Park would be full night -in and night-out. They could even run advertisements detailing the benefits of being a season ticket holder with a group of them being so easily visible.

The tickets should be offered at an even more discounted price than the normal season tickets, but the team won’t have to worry about losing money over the years because it would just be offered for one season.

It is a win-win. Hardcore fans would get to experience what is like to be a season ticket holder – possibly encouraging them to purchase normal season tickets the next season. Also, the Astros would get advertise season tickets in a tangible way to the average fan.