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StubHub struck one of its first major sports deals with the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and has separate partnership agreements with about half of the 30 major league teams, covering everything from signage to promotions. It signed a five-year deal to become the "Official Fan to Fan Ticket Marketplace" for MLB.com in 2007.
John Davis, the vice president for ticket sales for the Cincinnati Reds, said the relationship with StubHub "provides valuable insight and data into the secondary market that we wouldn't have otherwise."
"Teams are provided a clear picture as to nuances of the secondary buyer by pricing categories, proximity to the ballpark, and timing in regards to time of purchase and the actual game," Davis said. "All these factors are extremely helpful in understanding our fan base, how best to message to them, and how to properly price our tickets."
Any new deal between the sides could have a much different feel without one of baseball's most popular franchises.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the New York Yankees are planning to opt out if baseball signs another deal with StubHub. The person said the Yankees would announce their own arrangement at some point soon.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing contract negotiations.
The Yankees groused about StubHub when they had some empty seats for some of their home games in the playoffs. The actual effect of their absence from any new arrangement is uncertain, since fans still would be able to buy and sell Yankees tickets on the site -- the consumer may not notice much of a difference.
StubHub.com declined to release team-specific ticket sales, but acknowledged the big-market clubs generate the most business.
The NBA announced its partnership with Ticketmaster in August, and they opened their new website before the season started. Billed as the official ticket marketplace for the league, NBATickets.com provides access to tickets sold by the team and by other fans. The league says teams can set minimum ticket prices on the site.
"I think that you're going to see it move more toward where the NBA is," said Bill Sutton, who is the director of the sport and entertainment management program at the University of South Florida and spent four years as the NBA's vice president for team marketing and business operations, "where it's going to be instead of rivals you've got to be partners, because neither seller is going away, so you've got to figure out a way to partner."
AP Baseball Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati and AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://twitter.com/jcohenap.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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