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Palladino: Yankees Can Afford To Give The Little Guy A Break

A fan looks for tickets before a game at Yankee Stadium (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

A fan looks for tickets before a game at Yankee Stadium (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

News flash: the Yankees are the most valuable team in baseball, valued at $2.3 billion.

Wild, pie-in-the-sky, cockeyed optimist suggestion: How about taking those bucks and doing something for the fans. Like giving back.

Yeah, fat chance, right? But wouldn’t it be nice if the organization put some of its revenue toward relieving the burden on the public and actually pricing their tickets at reasonable levels. By the way, 2014 would be the ideal year to do it, with the Yanks starting off this year with a major injury issue and gloomy forecasts.

Cut the ticket prices drastically so the average Joe only has to stretch a little to actually go to a ballgame. Is there any reason, really, why a guy should have to pay so much to sit in the not-so-cheap seats upstairs? What a public relations coup it would be if the franchise flung open the gates of Yankee Stadium and let in the huddle masses, those same people against whom they’ve turned live attendance into a pipe dream, for a reasonable price.

We’re not cynical enough to think anything remotely like this is possible this year. Those pricey season tickets and partial packages are already sold, and it would be immoral to cut prices for today’s limited availability when the majority has paid full freight.

But next year? Oh, yeah, it’s definitely possible.

Consider this. If the Forbes magazine projections are right — and there’s a good chance the pub has undervalued the team because of last year’s sale of the Dodgers for $2.1 billion — the Yanks’ value rose about $500 million since last year’s survey. Consider, too, that only a small percentage of Forbes’ total valuation estimate derives from attendance.

Television and advertising bring in the bucks. Always have. The YES Network is a huge moneymaker for them, and will continue to be despite the team selling a chunk of their stake. Their hats and jerseys are marketed worldwide. Virtually everybody wants their brands backed by the Yankees name, and they’re willing to pay for it.

Given all that, would it really hurt the greatest franchise in sports if mezzanine seats down the third base line cost $40 instead of $107? Why not drop the upper deck seats behind the plate from $37 to $20? And really, is there any reason anyone should have to pay $76 to sit toward the top of the stadium in right field? Drop it to $30, for all games.

This next thought may border on communism, but how about getting rid of those stupid, elitist ground-level seats behind the plate that nobody uses anyway? Those Legends Suite seats are constantly empty, as even the most bourgeois of fans think it outrageous to pay those prices for a ballgame, and they’re bad viewing for the TV audience. They make the stadium look empty. Besides that, they’re separated by a moat to keep the riff-raff out, despite those other folks coughing up over $300 to sit within tomato-throwing distance of the landed gentry.

Twenty-seven dollars for a bleacher seat? Drop it to $15.

The franchise can always point to the costs of those mega-contracts it has saddled itself with. But remember, too, that a lot of that will come off the books next year. Mo Rivera leaves, as will Curtis Granderson and a bunch of others. All will be replaced rather cheaply in keeping with the owner mandate to get below the $189 million luxury tax ceiling.

Accomplishing that goal will put even more millions in the Yankees’ coffers.

Of any team in sports, the Yankees are the one who can most afford to give the beer-and-hotdog fans a break, even if it’s for just one season. Show the regular guy he’s something more than a two-legged ATM.

Just once.

We all want to pay less at the ballpark. Is this a realistic suggestion from our friend Ernie? Sound off in the comments…