The Braves began communicating the policies to ticket buyers by email Wednesday night.
“We’ve tried very hard to make this as customer-friendly and fan-friendly as we possibly could,” Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller said Thursday. “Offering a bonus to any credit that might be left on an account, for those who are willing and able to do that, is one way to go about it. But if somebody wants a refund for an April or May game, they’re absolutely going to receive that.
“To the extent they get a refund, we certainly understand that, and hopefully we’ll have them back at a future game at a later date.”
The policies apply to most tickets bought directly from the Braves, including those purchased from the team through Ticketmaster, Schiller said.
Customers who have multi-year contracts with the Braves for club seats or suites will be offered a “separate set of incentives” based on their agreements, Schiller said. “Those will be managed on a one-to-one basis,” he said.
Tickets purchased from resellers on the secondary market are subject to the policies of those companies, Schiller said. Generally, secondary-market sites don’t issue refunds until games are officially canceled, and for now MLB still lists its games as merely postponed.
The Braves had 15 home games scheduled in April and 11 more in May, all wiped out or expected to be wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team plans to make ticket refund decisions regarding games scheduled for June and beyond on a month-to-month basis.
The Braves' new policy for April/May tickets was put in place after MLB told its 30 teams Tuesday that they could determine their own refund rules. Previously, MLB's policy was for teams not to issue widespread refunds because the tickets theoretically could be used when postponed games are rescheduled. However, it became clear that there's no way a full schedule will be played and that, when or if the season begins, games may be played without fans in attendance, at least for a while.
MLB is considering many possibilities for salvaging a shortened season, but no decisions have been made about how or when to proceed.
“I think anybody in baseball right now has huge optimism for having games this year, and I’m one that shares that optimism,” Schiller said. “Until we’ve been told that we can’t do it, or that it’s unsafe and can’t be done, we’re going to keep that optimism high and hopefully bring Braves baseball back to Truist Park sometime during 2020.
“First and foremost, we want to ensure that we’re going to have a safe environment for our fans, for our employees, for our players,” Schiller said. “This situation is changing daily, so I think it’d be irresponsible to try to project what might happen 30 days from now, 60 days from now, 90 days from now.
“Everybody wants to return to some sort of normalcy. I think one of the ways that we probably are going to be able to prove that we’re back to normal is hosting Braves games in front of fans. We are so excited for the day that happens and are just focused on everything we can do in the interim to make it easier for our fans and to stay connected with them.”
Many MLB teams have announced refund policies similar to the Braves’ in the past two days, with variations from team to team. Of the teams that offered bonus credits to be used toward future games for season-ticket holders who don’t request refunds, most offered 5% or 10%, but the Baltimore Orioles offered 25% and the Minnesota Twins 15%. Not all teams offered such bonuses.
MLB’s changed stance on refunds came after a class-action lawsuit was filed by two fans against the commissioner’s office and all 30 teams in Los Angeles last week. That lawsuit sought refunds, arguing fans had been “stuck with expensive and unusable tickets for unplayable games in the midst of this economic crisis.”