Covid Means There's Even Less Joy in Mudville
Bloomberg Businessweek|May 10, 2021
Capacity constraints and distancing rules bring big headaches for season ticket holders
Christopher Palmeri and Rob Golum, with Carey Goldberg, Elizabeth Elkin, Henry Goldman, Kim Chipman, and David Voreacos

To say that Ralph Bracco is a baseball fan would be an understatement. The 63-year-old actor had attended every New York Yankees opening day since before owner George Steinbrenner fired manager Billy Martin—for the first of several times—in 1978. But Covid almost ended that streak. Bracco entered a March 22 lottery to buy opening day tickets, holding online almost half an hour before learning he’d just missed qualifying for a purchase. “This year is completely different,” says Bracco, who was forced to turn to third-party seller Seat Geek. “The Yankees didn’t care that I was a season ticket holder for more than four decades. I was No. 326 on a virtual line.”

Covid restrictions are easing at U.S. baseball stadiums, bringing joy to club owners and scattered cheers to players, but there’s still plenty of angst for many of the most committed fans. With attendance limits changing unpredictably and seats for even the most-valued customers reassigned to reduce crowding, the pandemic has left some season ticket holders feeling like they’ve struck out.

“We’ve been sharing season tickets for about 35 years, and while it’s never simple with our six-way split, it’s never been nearly this convoluted,” says Larry Tye, a Boston-area author. “We’re never sure if we’ll actually get the game we want or where the tickets will be.”

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