There’s no doubt a major hole will be left in the New York Yankees’ lineup when 20-year veteran and captain Derek Jeter hangs up his cleats. But the team’s bottom line will certainly get a boost from the shortstop’s farewell season.
Since Jeter made his retirement announcement on his Facebook (FB) page Wednesday, demand for Yankees’ tickets, and in particular tickets for his last New York game and his last season game, are through the roof.
“I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life. And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship,” Jeter wrote.
There’s no doubt fans share his sentiment, and many are willing to shell out big bucks to bid him farewell in person.
Cameron Papp, spokesperson for online ticket retailer StubHub.com, says demand for the last game Jeter will play at Yankee Stadium has increased by 1,000% since Wednesday. On Thursday, sales for that game were up 300%. He failed to release sales stats for proprietary reasons.
Prices for that game pre-retirement announcement were selling on average for about $74, Papp says. As of Thursday morning, the price was up 264% to $270.
“Demand has been pretty crazy for the game—it's our highest selling MLB game for 2014,” Papp says. “We don’t usually do a lot of sales before spring training begins so this is the highest increase in a long time.”
The average ticket price for what is presumed to be Jeter’s last game in Boston at Fenway Park against rivals the Red Sox were $168 on Tuesday, and have since climbed to $223 as of Thursday morning, up 32.7%. The sales increase was 500% over the two-day period, Papp says.
Where prices wind up will depend on Jeter’s performance and health. “If he gets hurt, prices will go down, but if we are getting closer to the games and he will definitely play in them, prices will go up,” he says.
Major sports stars taking a “retirement tour” of sorts is a fairly new phenomenon, hence the ticket-buying frenzy and inflation, says Michael Cramer, professor of the University of Texas at Austin and former president of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars.
Jeter, one of the most respected players in the league, has led the Yankees to five World Series Championships and is a five-time gold glove winner and 13-time All Star.
“It’s something we are really seeing for the first time,” he says. “You had it a bit in the past, when stars would be retiring, but there was nowhere near this amount of speculation with tickets. We saw it a bit with Mariano Rivera last year.”
Expert expect game prices to continue to climb into the early season, and Cramer says injuries and performance aside—there’s always the playoffs to look forward to.
“Some have speculated that the Yankees will make the playoffs, so those tickets would get bid off as well, instead of Jeter’s regular last season game,” he says. “In the end, the tickets will find their true market value.”