MONEY Sports

As Jeter Farewell Tour Wraps Up, Ticket Sellers Cash In

Derek Jeter
In his final season, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees acknowledges the crowd as he comes up to bat in the first inning during the 2014 MLB All Star Game. Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports—Reuters

With Derek Jeter's retirement drawing nearer, the "Jeter effect" is pushing ticket prices skyward—not only at Yankee Stadium, but at ballparks around the country.

When a legendary captain with five World Series championships, more than 3,400 hits, and the respect and admiration of everyone with a vague knowledge of baseball retires, you expect him to get quite a sendoff. Now that the final weeks of Derek Jeter’s professional baseball career are upon us, we’re seeing exactly how much fans value the man and the player—in dollars and cents.

The hoopla over Jeter’s retirement kicked off seconds after he said this would be his final season back in February. The buzz kicked into a higher gear more recently when the New York Yankees announced that an official retirement ceremony honoring the sure-thing Hall of Famer would take place on September 7, causing ticket prices for that day’s game to hit the roof. Data cited by ESPN indicated that the average asking price on the secondary market for the game—a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Kansas City Royals, three weeks before the season ends—shot up from $139 to around $500 within 24 hours of the announcement.

Following the law of supply and demand, sellers soon began asking as much as $9,999 per ticket, with bleacher seats with a face value of $16 selling for more than $200, prompting outrage from some fans sickened by the price gouging, the New York Post reported. “It’s crazy!” said one fan who had hoped to buy tickets for the game for his daughter, who idolizes Jeter. “I knew there would be some increase, but this is robbery.”

Well, the robbery has only grown more egregious. A recent look at the ticket resale site StubHub showed that the high end for asking prices topped $11,000 for the game.

It’s not just the Jeter retirement ceremony game, nor just the remaining games at Yankee Stadium, for which fans are being asked to pony up big bucks to see #2 live in action for perhaps the last time. Data released earlier this season from SeatGeek, a ticket resale and research site, has it that the average price for a Yankees away game is up 25% this year, hitting $101, up from $81 in 2013.

As the season inches closer to its final innings, the “Jeter effect” on pricing seems to be increasing. According to data pulled for us by TiqIQ, secondary market prices for upcoming Yankees road games are around double the usual going rate (if not much higher) at stadiums in places like Tampa, Baltimore, and Boston. For the August 15-17 series against the Yankees hosted by the Tampa Bay Rays, asking prices were averaging $144, versus the Rays’ usual home average price of $69. (Keep in mind, we’re talking average prices here—some Rays home games against other teams are listed for under $10.) For the Baltimore Orioles’ final home series against Jeter and the Yankees (September 12-14), the average ticket price was $125, compared with a season-long home average of $65.

Then there are the Red Sox and Fenway Park. The World Series champs started the season with the highest face value ticket prices in baseball, averaging $52 per seat at home games (about $1 more than the Yankees). Despite a disappointing season, Red Sox home tickets have been selling for an average of $117 on the secondary market. Yet TiqIQ says that the average price per ticket for the Sox season-ending home series against the Yankees on September 26-28 is now up to $332, even though neither team is likely to be fighting for a playoff spot by then.

Data supplied by StubHub is slightly different, but no less impressive. Average asking prices for the final game of the season at Fenway Park on September 28 stood at $150 before Jeter announced his retirement in February. The average shot up almost immediately to $284, and lately, it’s measuring $305. The average is pushed up by some of the astronomically priced tickets, including several pairs of seats offered for around $11,000, and one entire private suite listed at just under $36,000.

Even so, it remains possible for fans to be able to say, “I saw Jeter during his final days as a player,” without getting completely taken to the cleaners. In fact, tickets to some upcoming Yankees games are downright cheap. Tickets to the Royals game at Yankee Stadium on the day before Jeter’s retirement ceremony can be had for about $20, for instance.

At certain Dallas-focused websites, such as that of the Dallas Morning News, banner ads alerted baseball fans that this week would be the “Last Chance to see Jeter in Texas!” The Rangers, currently in last place in the American League West, apparently need all the help they can get to attract fans to the ballpark.

But the Jeter effect can only do so much. Per TiqIQ, the average going price for the Rangers final home series against the Yankees was $72, compared with $50 for the season overall. On Tuesday, asking prices for that night’s game versus the Jeter-led Yankees were as low as $5. Still, for Wednesday’s game—the series’ ender, so truly the last chance to see Derek Jeter play in Texas—the average asking price was a more respectable, Jeter-worthy $90.

Related:

What You Can Learn from Derek Jeter’s Perfect Exit

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