SBD/Issue 132/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Despite Sluggish Sales, Giants Optimistic

Giants Have Sold Fewer Than 20,000
Season-Ticket Plans At AT&T Park
In San Jose, Andrew Baggarly reports the Giants this season have sold fewer than 20,000 season-ticket plans at AT&T Park, off almost 25% from the '07 season. However, team officials "believe they will avoid the catastrophic projections that are haunting other major league cities, and through walk-up sales and promotions, they are hopeful their season attendance will come close to matching the 2.8 million fans they drew last season." For the first time, the Giants are offering a "six-payment plan rather than requiring a full deposit" before Opening Day this year. Also, Giants Senior VP/Consumer Marketing Tom McDonald said that group sales are "on par with last season and individual ticket sales are better than at this point last year" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27).

TALE OF TWO CITIES: Phillies President & CEO David Montgomery said that the team's season-ticket sales are up 17% this season, from 20,487 in '08 to more than 24,000 this year, while sponsorship revenue "should increase" about 3-4%. Montgomery noted that since the Phillies won last season's World Series, they were able to replace the "few contracts they lost on the 71 suites at Citizens Bank Park, and sponsor departures, largely automakers, were filled in by other categories." Meanwhile, White Sox CMO Brooks Boyer said that the team's ticket sales are "pacing ahead of last season, while sponsorships are slightly down." Boyer said that the team's "most significant sponsorship losses" this offseason were Bank of America, which did not renew its expired five-year deal, and GM's Buick, Pontiac and GMC brands (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/26).

WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S: Kalahari Resorts has purchased the naming rights to the new landing area at Miller Park for the Brewers' mascot, Bernie. Under the multi-year sponsorship, Kalahari becomes the official water park of the Brewers, and the deal includes signage around the ballpark and other promotional rights. The Brewers Thursday said that Bernie's new landing area will be unveiled this season (, 3/26).

BULLPEN RELIEF? In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves writes if it "makes sense," Rangers President Nolan Ryan could become a minority investor in the team with Owner Tom Hicks, who is looking for additional shareholders. But if the deal does not make business sense, Ryan will "back away quicker than opposing hitters did when he fired a fastball high and tight." Ryan: "Owning a (major league) team with my boys was always a goal if the right situation came up where we could be involved, an active involvement." But Reeves notes with Hicks, the Rangers "already have a majority owner who's very actively involved in the team with his own sons" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/27).

CLEANUP HITTER: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde reports the Marlins have adopted a "new fashion statement," forbidding players from wearing jewelry, among other things. Marlins manager Fredie Gonzalez: "We want to look professional. Nice and neat." Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez, who used to wear his hair in corn-rows, said, "I had to cut it. ... It's incredible. We're big-leaguers" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/27).

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