Sam Mellinger

Many Royals fans are mad about their playoff ticket locations, but here’s why it’s an unavoidable problem

Royals fans celebrate during the first inning of game seven of the World Series last year.
Royals fans celebrate during the first inning of game seven of the World Series last year. The Kansas City Star

Royals season-ticket holders received information about purchasing postseason tickets this week, and, well, much of the reaction has been frustration. Anger.

Just this afternoon, a half-dozen or so emails came through to me. One fan said he owns season tickets in Section 236, and has been moved to Section 413 for the playoffs. Another went from Section 215 to 433.

You can understand the frustration, obviously. But it’s unavoidable.

“Think of it as a math equation,” says Kevin Uhlich, the Royals’ vice president for business. “If you buy a 20-game plan, that means four different people are sharing one seat. So when you get to the postseason, only one of them can keep that seat.”

There are other complications, too. MLB policy is that about 8,500 seats are held back for the league, networks, national accounts and sponsors. These are spread throughout the stadium, but particularly in a relatively small venue, the squeeze is harder in Kansas City.

Kauffman Stadium’s official capacity is 37,903 seats. Only four stadiums are smaller. Take away the 8,500 for MLB and sponsors, and you’re left with fewer than 30,000 seats. The Royals have about 12,500 season-ticket equivalents this year, and most of those are broken into smaller plans. With four 20-game plans equaling one STE, you can see how fewer than 30,000 seats go very quickly.

The formula for who goes where is complicated, but favors those who buy bigger packages, and those who’ve been around the longest. The squeeze wasn’t as bad last year, mostly because the Royals had fewer season-ticket holders. The season-ticket base is up about 30 percent from last year, and much of the increase is in new 20-game accounts, meaning more and more people are sharing seats.

See a collection of photographs and pages produced by The Kansas City Star staff during the month of October 2014 when the Kansas City Royals were in the playoffs.

Last year, many 20-game holders could buy World Series tickets close or even better than their regular-season seats. This year, people are being moved back.

“That’s a good problem to have for the team, but for some people, it’s not what they’re used to,” Uhlich says. “We do (empathize). You hear stuff like, ‘You don’t care about us because we only buy 20 games.’ We do care. Twenty games is a big commitment. People have busy lives. It just comes down to, logistically, there are only so many seats.”

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to smellinger@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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