Circling near the intersection of Boylston Street and Yawkey Way, scalper Justin called out for Game 6 tickets. “Any extras?” he asked passersby. As the first pitch from John Lackey neared, he hadn’t received any realistic offers, just “tire kickers” curious about the value of their tickets and fans who wanted $500 more than what was advertised online for bleacher and grandstand seats.
“It’s been pretty lonely out here,” said Justin, who asked that his last name not be used. “You’ve got to have tickets to make money and it’s very tight. The fans are all scalpers now, too. They see an opportunity to make money. So, it’s all luck at this point.”
In the days and hours before Game 6 of the World Series Wednesday night, putting a price on Boston sports history proved tricky business for scalpers, online resellers, and Red Sox fans. With an official capacity of 37,499, Fenway Park’s cozy confines, a limited, precious supply of tickets met unprecedented high demand. At least, that’s what asking prices on the street and online indicated. Ticket resellers and industry experts believe it is the highest-priced ticket in Major League Baseball history. And scalpers in the Fenway area called the demand for tickets “unprecedented.”
Early Wednesday morning, roughly 12 hours before game time, TiqIQ, a ticket tracking company, reported that the average price for Game 6 seats was $2,055.98, which marked an 11.48 percent increase from $1,844.23 on Tuesday. At that time, it also cost $1,047 simply to gain admittance to Fenway Park, called the “get in” price in the reselling business. And that was a nearly 20 percent increase from Tuesday. The game day numbers were comparable to the prices seen at last season’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers with an average ticket price of $2,199.08 and a “get in” of $1,062.
But some fans were paying way above average for everything from bleacher seats to field box seats.
About five hours before the game, a veteran scalper who’s been in the business for 25 years said bleacher seats were running about $600 each, six times face value. Meanwhile, field boxes from the first base side all the around to third base were going for $2,500-$3,000 apiece, upward of 10 times face value. Many of the veteran scalpers, who typically gather at the corner of Brookline Avenue and Landsdowne Street, were not roaming their usual territories because they didn’t have any inventory left. And, unlike Justin, they didn’t stick around to try and pry loose extra tickets.
“We’ve had two days to sell this game, so most of the guys are tapped out,’’ said the veteran scalper around 3:30 p.m. “I’ve got five to six handoffs to make, then I am going to go home, have dinner, watch it in the comfort of my living room.’’
The historic circumstances at Fenway and day off between Games 5 and 6 conspired to drive up online prices.
On Tuesday morning, several hours after the Red Sox took a 3-2 series lead and made Game 6 a potential World Series clincher, two seats in the front row of Dugout Box 36 went for $12,092 apiece on StubHub to a buyer from Canada. According to StubHub spokesperson Shannon J. Barbara, the company saw buyers for Game 6 tickets from all 50 states with 25 percent coming from Massachusetts, followed by New York, California, and Connecticut.
AceTicket founder and president Jim Holzman noted that the highest-priced ticket his brokerage sold was an $8,000 front-row box seat.
“When [the Red Sox] took a 1-0 lead during Game 5 that’s when the action started happening,” said Holzman. “
There’s been incredible demand for the ticket. The reason the prices are what they are is really due to two things — one, demand and two, for someone to sell the seat you’ve got to pay them a lot of money or they’re not going to sell it. They’re going to use it themselves.”
Almost as soon as the Red Sox led in the first inning of Game 5, the resale market started moving upward. Holzman and others in the industry watched prices climb about $50 an inning during the game, then take off after the Red Sox victory. According to TiqIQ, which follows a number of ticket resellers, the “get in” price for Game 6 increased 77.16 percent going back to before Game 5 and the average price increased 26.49 percent over the same time span.
And that helped drive a large crowd to the game day ticket sales entrance on Landsdowne Street, where they camped out overnight and hoped to get lucky with face-value tickets ranging from $125 to $375.
Holzman noted that the $1,000 “get in” for Game 6 on Wednesday night was comparable to the “get in” price for Games 1 and 2 of the 2004 World Series, which hovered around $950.
“I never thought I’d see a $1,000 ticket just to get in the door,” said Holzman. “I just didn’t. But we are. Anybody who bought a ticket to Game 6, if we win it in 6, it will be the best money they ever spent in their life.”
As the postgame celebrations in and around Fenway Park continued into the early morning, it appeared the Red Sox made every dollar paid worth it.
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org