Royals fans shell out for playoff game tickets, and say it’s worth it, despite rainy loss

John Mele and his wife, Julie Shopper-Mele, decided to go on a “$1,000 date” to the game.
John Mele and his wife, Julie Shopper-Mele, decided to go on a “$1,000 date” to the game.

So many times last playoff season, they came back.

But by the middle of the 8th inning, it occurred to Matt Powell as it had dawned on so many others in the stadium, that there might be no dramatic come from behind win this time .

Still, even after paying $140 each for four tickets to bring his family to see the first Royals playoff game, to sit in the rain and see the team lose, the 37-year-old Ottawa, Kan., man said it still had been worth it.

“Absolutely,” he said. The Royals will come back in the next games, he predicted.

And would the $108 tickets Josh Harvey spent for himself and his wife and the rain and the agony of quiet bats be worth it in the end?

“Of course it’s worth it,” the 31-year-old Kansas City man said. “It’s our Kansas City Royals.”

But the night did come at a price.

Before Thursday’s playoff game, for an average cost of $230, you’d have the right on StubHub to plant your Royal blue backside in section 119, a few rows behind the visitor’s dugout.

Of course, for the same money, you could buy a 39-inch, flat-screen TV on sale at Best Buy and still have cash left for some brewsky and a bag of peanuts.

But for many Royals fans, actually being in Kauffman Stadium at playoff time was worth the extra dough. And as was the case during last year’s playoffs, tickets to games at Kauffman were demanding some of the highest prices of all playoff teams.

Entering the postseason, the median asking price for tickets to the first two Royals playoff games was $237 across all resale platforms before anyone knew who the Royals’ opponent would be.

As of Tuesday, that was fourth highest among the 10 teams in both the American and National leagues who at the time could have possibly hosted a divisional series game — the six division winners and four Wild Card teams, according to an analysis done by the online ticket broker SeatGeek.

The highest median asking price was $404 for games at Wrigley Field, before the Cubs beat the Pirates in the Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Next were the Blue Jays ($267) and the Mets ($255). Of the four, only the Royals have been in postseason contention this decade.

People with Royals tickets to sell seem more optimistic than last year, said SeatGeek analyst Chris Leyden.

“Sellers are pricing the tickets a bit higher off the bat,” Leyden said, “likely because they think the odds of the Royals advancing deep into the playoffs are higher this year than they were the day the postseason started last year.”

Sellers were asking more for World Series tickets this year compared to the same time last year. The median asking price for games at Kauffman was $1,732 at the start of this postseason, up from $1,438 last year.

But fans were willing to pay, with their eyes wide open.

Three hours before the first pitch, season-ticket holder Jeff Otterman of Kansas City sat outside the first-base gate in his wheelchair. He had all his playoff tickets in an envelope.

“I told my wife, if we go, this is birthdays and Christmas,” Otterman, 52, said. “No more holidays.”

And he’s plenty OK with that.

So were John Mele and his wife, Julie Shopper-Mele, of Snowmass, Colo., who decided last week they were going to a playoff game no matter what it cost.

They’d be in Kansas City this week, anyway, visiting Julie’s 93-year-old dad. Growing up in Leawood, Julie, 56, was a lifelong Royals fan.

So John, 64, went online. Saw the prices. Gulped hard once, twice — then bought a pair of front-row tickets in section 221 for $260 apiece, as well as parking pass for Lot J, right next to the stadium, for another $76.

“This is a thousand-dollar date,” John quipped, and counting concessions that wouldn’t be far off.

And some fans finally caught a break.

Last season, Kyle Colvin, 32, used all the strategy he could to get playoff tickets. He signed up for raffles, checked sites regularly. Nothing. He finally got Game 5 tickets to the ALCS. And then the Royals swept the Baltimore Orioles in four. Ugh.

As he tells the story, wife Lori Colvin, 33, smiles: “But we got lucky yesterday.”

Kyle’s supervisor at work told him there were still tickets available on the Royals site. He’d heard that a time or two last year. But this time? Sure enough, two tickets in section 423, would cost him a little over $220 total.

“He called me at work and said, “Should I get them?” That would be a yes.