SBD/Issue 156/Franchises

MLB Teams Offer Ticket, Concession Discounts To Lure Fans To Park

A's Are Offering Fans Free Parking As
An Incentive During Tough Economic Times

MLB teams are "offering rock-bottom ticket and concession prices to lure cash-strapped fans to the ballpark," according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. At least "nine of the 30 MLB teams are offering $1 ticket or hot dog promotions," while others like the A's are "dangling free parking as an incentive during economic hard times." A's VP/Sales & Marketing Jim Leahey said more MLB clubs are willing to sacrifice short-term revenue "if we can bring folks to the park who might not otherwise come." McCarthy notes the Braves are "pricing 2,092 upper deck seats at $1 for seven games this season" at Turner Field, while the Reds and Brewers are "offering dollar menus at some concession stands for the second year in a row." But there are "bright spots in 2010," as Twins Dir of Baseball Communications Mike Herman said that the team's average attendance through the first seven home games at Target Field is up 62.3% over the same period last year at the Metrodome. The Braves, Rangers and Reds also are seeing attendance increases, up 28%, 27% and 25%, respectively, "during their first homestands of the 2010 season" (USA TODAY, 4/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Mike Sielski reports the Mets "already twice dipped below 26,000" fans at Citi Field this season, after drawing at least 35,581 fans to every game last season. Sunday's 1-0 rain-shortened win over the Braves drew an announced crowd of 27,623, which was "probably about 20,000 more than the number of people at Citi Field" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/27).

TRYING TO GET THEM IN: The GLOBE & MAIL's Hayley Mick reports the Blue Jays are offering a C$95 season ticket at Rogers Centre that includes "unlimited access to the 500-level nosebleed seats." Meanwhile, prior to last night's game against the Red Sox, the Blue Jays "invited season ticket owners ... to come see the Jays' pregame batting practice." The team also has "borrowed a tactic used by the NBA," instituting Tweeting Tuesdays, "allowing fans who use Twitter to communicate with some of the team's players and other fans." But some Blue Jays fans said that team officials "could do better ... to convince Torontonians to spend their evenings at the ball game," from "ladies nights to cheaper booze" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/27).

SMALL SAMPLE, BUT A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? A's GM Billy Beane said of overall attendance during the first three weeks of the season, "You have to recognize it's a small sample size." However, even with that being the case, Beane indicated that if the trend "continues, it could be worrisome for baseball as a whole, and not just for small-market teams trying to make a go of it in tough economic times." Beane: "I watched the Kansas City-Toronto game the other night, and it really struck me how small the crowd was. We've had plenty of nights like that in Oakland. My concern is that of the (fans') perception of how the season will play out. People may be afraid to get emotionally involved with teams like that." FANHOUSE.com's John Hickey notes that perception could be that teams "playing well -- the A's are in first place and the Jays are over .500 -- aren't teams that are going to be in contention" later on in the season, and that "may work to suppress attendance" (FANHOUSE.com, 4/27).

ATTENDANCE NOT REALLY THAT BIG OF A DEAL: Bloomberg TV's Michele Steele reports MLB home attendance does not matter "as much as you would think." Despite only 10,924 fans coming out to see the Padres-Marlins last night, "both of these teams make plenty of money." Steele said while the Marlins are "among the worst teams in terms of attendance, in terms of profitability it's a different story. The Marlins led the league in operating income -- $46(M), $6(M) more than the next club, the Boston Red Sox." Steele: "While it would be nice if more teams offered more freebies and promotions to get you out to the ballpark, most of them are actually doing pretty well on their own" (Bloomberg TV, 4/27).

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