March 25, 2008 -- Here's the pitch: You pay the Yankees $2,500. They give you one of the choicest seats in their new ballpark, right behind home plate, plus waiter services, free parking, free food and access to three private clubs.
Beginning in 2009, when the New York Yankees open their new $1.3 billion stadium, some 1,800 very rich, very lucky people will be within spitting distance of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
The tickets, some of the priciest in all of sports, indicate for some a trend in skyrocketing prices that keep families and working class people from enjoying a game in New York. The Yankees, however, insist that the suites (there are two other less expensive luxury areas) encompass just 4,000 of the new ballpark's 47,000 seats.
Ticket prices in the new stadium's grandstand and bleachers will cost the same as they do now, said Lonn Trost, the Yankees' chief operating officer.
The maximum face value price for a luxury suite seat is now $1,000 in the Legends section.
In Philadelphia, fans can buy a seat in the Philly Diamond Club, getting comparable services, for $75 a ticket.
"Some people can afford to fly first class and others can't," said Trost, who added that the Yankees had enough affordable seating that families would not be priced out of attending games. "This is about providing luxury. It is an additional experience."
"There will be 47,000 regular seats, 50 percent of which won't have a price increase." he said. "Eighty-eight percent of those will be less than $100."
The new stadium will have bleacher seating for 5,000 people at $12 a seat, and grandstand seating for between $20 and $25.
Fans have long worried that increasing ticket prices, combined with travel expenses and concession costs, have made a day at Yankees Stadium prohibitively expensive for families.
"A decent seat in the upper deck near the front runs about $65," said Steve Klein, 28, a lifelong Yankees fan and New Yorker. "If a father wants to take his family from just a few miles upstate, he is first going to have to pay $14 for train tickets for his kids both ways. It might cost $200 bucks just to get back and forth from the stadium. Then he has to pay $400 for O.K. seats. It is difficult to get out there paying less than $50 for food — and for the love of God, don't even think about walking into the gift shop."
The Yankees have yet to announce how much the price of food, beverages and souvenirs will increase when the Bronx Bombers leave the current stadium, the team's home since 1923.
Despite being larger, capacity in the new park will decrease from around 57,000 seats to around 53,000.
The new stadium will offer other premium plans for less than $500. Seats in the main suite, also behind home plate, but nine sections above the Legends area start at $350. And an additional 1,300 seats in the Terrace suite sell for $100, $115, and $135.
With a Main suite ticket, visitors also receive access to a picnic area, private bar and concierge. Visitors to the Terrace suite get a padded seat and access to their own club.
"Before selling anything, we just asked our season ticket holders if they would be interested," Trost said. "We've already received 1,300 requests for 1,200 Main seats. We didn't really market or sell these, we just asked if anyone had any interest."
Already all of the Legends tickets have been sold.
Trost said it was not just corporations buying up the tickets, but many individuals.
"Joe Lunchbox never considered buying those tickets when they cost $1,000 in the current stadium, let alone $2,500 at the new one" said Sean Pate, head of corporate communications for StubHub, an online marketplace to resell tickets.
"The Yankees are trying to attract a very specific type of person, which in a city as affluent as New York won't be terribly difficult. Nobody needs a $2,500 ticket just like nobody needs a penthouse apartment on Park Avenue. The added perks are extremely nice."
He said the face value price for a Legends ticket was high enough that it probably could not resell for much more than $2,500.
Pate said he did not expect the economic downturn to affect ticket sales through 2009.
"There is a sense that sports are so engrained in the culture that they are in a sense recession proof, especially when a team is doing well," Pate said. "Even in a market like Detroit, where the economy is doing poorly, if the team is up, the stadium is full."