For as long as I can remember, I have been dreaming of the day when an official MLB game was played in Europe. To be honest, I didn’t think it would occur in my lifetime.
In June 2019, this dream will become a reality when the World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox take on the New York Yankees at the former Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London. Not in Paris, not Berlin, not Barcelona, but in London.
Tickets were released to pre-registered accounts on Monday at 10:00am. Thousands of people were left disappointed and vented their anger towards MLB, Ticketmaster and StubHub, as it soon became apparent that tickets were immediately available on resale outlets for many times more than their face value.
In true Groundhog Day-style, the same thing happened on Wednesday when London Stadium released their allocation, and again on Thursday when the tickets went on general sale.
Two problems widely cited on social media were the price of the tickets and the lack of availability.
In the big picture, perhaps it is vital that MLB can announce that the two games sold out within minutes of the tickets being released. Perhaps this guarantees regular season MLB games in London for years to come.
The tickets ranged from £30.00 to £385.00. Because the London Series is such a historic event, it is difficult to find an event with which to compare.
Saturday 29 June will be the first time in MLB’s long, illustrious history that a game will be held in Europe. Naturally, it will attract a greater premium than a freezing Chicago day against the league’s least supported franchise.
Two weeks after the London Series, the capital plays host to the Men’s Final at Wimbledon. The cheapest ticket is £210.00, ranging up to £4235.00. And this is for an event that happens every year and has done for the last 135 years.
Also on that Sunday is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, with the cheapest grandstand tickets at £245.00.
Part of the trouble with the London Series pricing comes when you compare it to that time you caught a Tampa Bay Rays game during a vacation in Florida when the tickets were only 30 bucks.
That’s not comparing apples with apples, that’s comparing avocados to apples.
A few weeks before their visit to the UK, the Red Sox travel to Yankee Stadium on Saturday 1 June. Tickets for this game go from £25.00 to £400.00. That is almost exactly the range of the London Series tickets.
Obviously, I would have preferred all of the tickets to be in the £40.00 – £50.00 range, but even with sellout crowds on both days, that would hardly cover the £4M+ cost of rejigging the stadium from football to baseball.
If one dream was to see a meaningful MLB game in Europe, then another was to go along with a group of my baseball-phobic friends and hopefully convert them during our evening out.
It looked like this was a possibility with the eight tickets per person rule, but alas it did not transpire that way.
It is easy to claim MLB was naive allowing so many tickets to be purchased in a single transaction, but they will point to the fact that the game sold out within one hour of the tickets being released. This is the headline, not that a huge number of British fans, genuine fans, missed out.
It is also easy to point out that without additional security/identification checks at the stadium, there was the inevitability that so many tickets would be purchased just for resale.
Let’s get it straight. I despise ticket touts. I’m all for a secondary market where excess/unwanted tickets can be resold, but I hate a profit being made just because someone or some organisation is able to keep hitting the refresh button at a time when most others are at work.
The profiteering by those who immediately advertised the tickets on Stub Hub and Viagogo at five-times their face value is appalling. Someone is making a lot of money.
Undoubtedly, MLB will learn from the experiences of this first European venture.
As a family, we recently saw the critically acclaimed musical Hamilton, whose tickets are equally highly-prized. The entry procedure demanded that I show my booking confirmation, photo identification, my payment card, and that all of the party enter together. This may not eliminate ticket touts, but it certainly reduces them.
One of my favourite events for tickets is Wimbledon. For £20.00 anyone can gain entry to the hallowed ground, all you have to do is queue. Without doubt, the thousands of people who camp overnight in the queue are some of the most deserving to see the following day’s action. Wimbledon does not allow resale of its tickets, and once again identification is needed to enter. This control eliminates 90% of touts.
I am part of the generation who spent early hours in the late-90s/early-2000s in Jonny Gould’s company watching MLB on Channel 5. I feel heartbroken for anyone who will miss out on this historic occasion, but we need this two-game series in Europe to be an overwhelming success.
If MLB and the two teams return to the east coast in July with an unmitigated triumph under their belts, the possibility of a repeat series in the UK is assured.
“It would be cheaper to fly to the US to watch.”
A refrain often seen on social media over the last few days, but no, it wouldn’t.
If we are comparing avocados with avocados, then the Saturday game at Yankee Stadium on June 1 is the match to target. We have already established that the ticket prices are similar to the London Series, but for the US option, you have to spend £300.00 on flights and 16 hours of your life in the air.