Blue Jays fans accuse Mariners of price gouging Canadians flocking to Safeco Field
Safeco Field will see some of its biggest crowds of the year this weekend. But a vast majority of the fans won’t be cheering for the Mariners as Toronto Blue Jays fans from across Canada make their annual pilgrimage to Seattle.
Some fans are accusing the M’s of price gouging to take advantage of our neighbors to the north.
Much like the swallows returning to Capistrano, tens of thousands of Canadian baseball fans will pack Safeco Field for the three-game set getting underway Friday night.
“With 39 million people and only one team, they all cheer for one major league baseball team and that’s the Toronto Blue Jays,” said CBC Reporter Chad Pawson.
“So for fans that live in Western Canada … British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba even, [Seattle is] one of the easiest places for them to see them.”
But Pawson says this year, he’s getting an earful from Canadian fans who are complaining that they found ticket prices for the series have gone way up. In some cases, they’re double what they sell for in other series.
“Some fans think that the Mariners organization is taking advantage of Western Canadian fans by putting in this dynamic pricing and using that as an excuse to increase the cost of the games,” Pawson said.
It’s certainly a hot ticket. Prices range from $30 to $150 for the three Jays games, while you can get the same seats for half that to upcoming Mariners series against other teams such as the Tigers and Astros.
But Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale says it’s simply a matter of supply and demand.
“Back in 2008, we started using a system called variable pricing. That means that we took a look at the schedule and so a Tuesday game in April was going to be priced differently from a Saturday game in August with the New York Yankees in town,” Hale said.
So it’s not personal. Most pro sports teams have implemented variable and dynamic pricing. Hale says much like airline tickets, prices are higher for premier matchups.
“The same thing is happening with the Yankees series, with the Mets series, with the Edgar Martinez number retirement game. Those are high-demand games. The algorithm doesn’t care where you come from. It’s going to follow the market forces and that’s how the prices get set,” Hale said.
But many of our neighbors to the north don’t believe it. They think the Mariners are simply trying to counter the annual takeover that makes Safeco feel a lot more like Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
There was a time when Safeco Field was packed on a regular basis with Mariners fans as the team was among the top in attendance league wide.
“It is something that we really, really want to have back here at this really amazing ballpark, is to fill it with crazy, cheering Mariners fans,” Hale said. “And if these guys keep playing the way they are and [general manager Jerry Dipoto] keeps working his magic, that could very well happen.”
If the past week is any indication, that could happen sooner rather than later. The Mariners have won four of the past five and displayed a firepower that hasn’t been seen around here in some time, despite Thursday night’s 2-1 hiccup to the Twins.