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Two thumbs down for Cardinals new season ticket pricing

I got my season ticket bill today. And, while I can only speak for my area and not for the whole ballpark, there was some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that ticket prices didn't go up for 2011. If that isn't a first in the new ballpark for the bleachers, it's the second time that they held the line on prices.

The bad news is that they have instituted a new ticket pricing system -- bases on something the Giants have used the last couple of years -- that tries to evaluate the cost of individual games based on what day of the week they take place and who they are played against. Although I have to pay the same price for all the tickets, some weekday games reflect a price much lower than the average.

What's the big deal? Well, I don't know a lot of individuals who go to every single game. Most people divide their tickets amongst friends or try to sell tickets they can't use to recoup some of their costs. It seems to me like it's going to be a hard sell to try to get someone to pay what you paid for the seats and not what it says the tickets are "worth" on their face. In effect, season ticket holders will pay a much higher price for more desirable games because they will offset less of their costs by spinning off games they can't use.

Unless you're a retired vampire that prefers to go only to weeknight games, that is. Then you can sell your weekend day games for a face value of $10 more than you paid for them. But if you're like me, with a kid who goes to bed at 8 p.m., those day games are like gold.

Up until now the tickets had the gate price printed on the face. So if you paid $20 per ticket, they might say $30, $40 or even $50 for premium games. If you tried to unload a few games to recoup your cost, it was an easy sell to market the seats for LESS than face value.

And I think that is the heart of this change.

The Cardinals would rather see season ticket holders eat tickets they can't use than lose walk-up sales -- at marked up prices -- to season ticket holders who spun off their seats. I think that's pretty crummy when two-thirds or more of the seats in the house are sold to and are paid for by season ticket holders before pitchers and catchers even report to spring training. It seems like their putting the bite on the hand that feeds them.

I talked to a season ticket representative today and he told me that the Cardinals will update the market prices over time, so in theory you could print out a higher priced edition of your ticket to sell later. But that doesn't do much good for people who participate in season ticket holder groups that draw before the beginning of the season. It's hard enough trying to split a schedule six different ways without tring to balance the price of all the games.

I have a hard time believing that the Cardinals think some of the games in the bleachers are really only worth $7 a ticket. First, it's the most popular place in the park to sit because of its place in the ticket pricing schedule relative to the view of the game offered. And second, the Cardinals haven't sold bleacher tickets at the box office for less than $10 for 15 years.

Put in place to soothe season ticket holders who were upset last year about specials that made some seats cheaper on an individual basis than they were for season ticket holders, this plan sure misses the mark.