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Breeders' Cup Vastly Alters Ticketing Plan

Breeders' Cup has cut ticket prices and will offer single-day sales.

Breeders’ Cup has vastly changed its ticketing plan for the 2009 World Championships, with major price reductions of up to 80% single-day sales, and online transactions.

The changes, announced May 8, follow a year in which patrons were alarmed at the cost of various seats and packages at host site Santa Anita Park, where the Cup will be held this year. Breeders’ Cup marketing officer Peter Land last year said the organization planned to review that ticket policy.

The minimum cost for a seat on Friday, Nov. 6, will be $40, down from $200; on Saturday, Nov. 7, the minimum is $55, also down from $200. A variety of seat choices exist, with Friday ticket prices for reserved grandstand ranging from $40-$235, and $55-$335 Saturday.

“Based on the economy, if we could have read the tea leaves, I think we would have been a little less aggressive with pricing,” Land told The Blood-Horse after the 2008 event.

Breeders’ Cup officials also said single-day prices for premium seating at the two-day event have been reduced 30%. The prices for premium seating have not been released.

Most tickets will be “unbundled” unlike last year, when reserved seats required a two-day purchase. Two-day packages remain available.

“The impetus for this new pricing in general is the 2009 recession,” Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli said. “We’re cognizant of the impact this has had on fans in Southern California and worldwide. We’ve studied what’s happening with other properties, and felt it was important to make the Breeders’ Cup an affordable event in 2009.”

Avioli said Cup officials also studied the results of mandating two-day purchases in 2008. He said there wasn’t an issue with premium seating, because most of those patrons wanted the same seats on both days.

In 2008 at Santa Anita, total attendance was reported at 82,588 — 31,257 Friday, and 51,331 Saturday. When the event was last held at Santa Anita as a one-day event in 2003, attendance was 51,648.

Tickets will go on sale to Breeders’ Cup nominators May 15, and to the general public beginning June 5. General Admission pricing and other ticket-based initiatives will be announced in early June, officials said.

SeatAdvisor Box Office has created an online ticketing system Avioli said should greatly expedite the process. He said the previous process, in place for 25 years, was “more than a little anachronistic.”

Previously, nominators pick their seats in preference order, and Breeders’ Cup reviewed the selections based on nominators’ level of contribution. The process could take months, Avioli said. Then, the host track would sell the remaining tickets.

“We believe we have significantly upgraded the process this year,” Avioli said. “Nominators will get a head start of about three weeks, and the first week of June, it’s open to the general public. This could be five minutes versus five weeks in the past.”

Tickets will be available for purchase through a new Breeders’ Cup customer service call center as well. Breeders’ Cup also will provide online travel support for fans coming to the event from outside of Southern California via a new partnership with Travelocity.