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Mets Season Preview: What Is This Dynamic Pricing Thing the Mets Are Doing?

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 02:  A general view of Dillon Gee #35 of the New York Mets pitching against Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees during their game on July 2, 2011 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Play ball! (Soon.)

Our preview of the 2012 Mets season begins with a look at the new dynamic pricing program.

If you want to sit in the Promenade Gold section at Citi Field on Opening Day, it'll cost you $80 a seat. If you want to sit there on April 21 against the Giants, it'll cost you $40. June 1 against the Cardinals? $25. June 23 against the Yankees? $80 again.

These aren't varying StubHub prices. These are the official prices on the official Mets website. This is the face value. This is dynamic pricing.

The Mets have introduced dynamic pricing this year, and it's certain to confuse you. Basically, the Mets are allowing the market to determine their ticket prices, just like StubHub has for years. The Mets explain it all right here, but all you really need to know is that the games that most people want to go to are going to be the most expensive. The prices will fluctuate all season, and if you want, you can go to the Mets' site and track them the whole time. (We'll definitely be doing that.)

The idea behind it: The Mets want to make it more enticing for you to go to a random July game no one else wants to go to without requiring you to pay as much as you would for, say, a Yankees game. Thus, that ugly Monday, September 10, game against Washington costs twelve bucks for the cheapest seats right now. But if it turns out that Stephen Strausberg is going for his 30th win or something, you can expect that price to shoot up. Just like StubHub. This is the Mets' attempt to compete with StubHub.

There's one way, though, that the Mets can't compete with StubHub, particularly if they have as bad a season as everyone seems to think they'll have: The Mets, to make sure they don't irk their season ticket holders, can't ever let the price of a ticket go below what a season ticket holder pays. Season ticket holders haven't accepted airline pricing, essentially. When you're on a plane, you accept that it's possible the person sitting next to you paid half the price for his/her ticket than you did; it's just how the market works. It's how StubHub works. But the season ticket holders buy at a fixed rate, and season ticket holders are the Mets' base. They can't anger them.

So, this is great and all ... but the fact is, come August, if the Mets are twenty games out of first, some of those StubHub tickets are going to be about $2. You'll never see the Mets go that low. This will make it cheaper to go to a random, meaningless Mets game ... if the only way you know how to buy tickets is from the Mets' official site. It is a start. But there is still a long way to go.

It's still a fun way to gamble, though. If you think the Mets have underpriced that September Phillies series — currently at a very low price range because it's a mid-week series — you should buy tickets now. The Mets are now playing the ticket-investment game, the market-timing game. Considering their history with money the last few years, we kinda like your odds to beat them.

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Photo: Al Bello/2011 Getty Images