SBD/Issue 14/Franchises

Rays Fans Quickly Grab Free Tickets, But Was It A Smart Idea?

 

Rays fans snapped up all 20,000 free tickets to last night's regular-season home finale against the Orioles "within 90 minutes" of them becoming available, according to Luis Perez of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Fans began lining up outside Tropicana Field "well before the box offices opened" at 4:45pm ET, and the Rays announced a capacity crowd of 36,973 for the game. The fans who took the free tickets indicated that the show of support "should be an indicator that the community supports the Rays, but that people are hurting financially and can't always afford to attend" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/30). The Rays prior to making the free tickets available yesterday sent a letter to season-ticket holders seeking to assure them that the giveaway will not be repeated. The Rays have sought to place a high priority on ticket-pricing integrity under Owner Stu Sternberg, a stance the club believes is not being eroded by the surprising offer. "This is not the start of a trend," wrote Rays President Matt Silverman. "This is not a new philosophy under which we will be operating. ... I want to make sure you don't take the issuing of those tickets for this one night as a sign we have forgotten about you." Silverman wrote the move was made "in an effort to bring people into the stadium for the season finale and create a great atmosphere for our players and our fans" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). CNBC.com's Darren Rovell wrote the 20,000-ticket giveaway was a "nice gesture" but is not "good business." Rovell: "The bottom line is, you should never ever give away your ticket for free when there are so many other things to give away" (CNBC.com, 9/29).

STOP, TROP & ROLL? THE SPORTS NETWORK's Chris Ruddick wrote the crowd of 17,891 at Tropicana Field for the Rays' playoff-clinching victory Tuesday night is "downright embarrassing, especially for a team that has been one of the best in the league the last three seasons." Rays P David Price, who was critical of the lack of fan support at Monday night's game, has "nothing to be sorry about." That people are "even talking about this is a joke, and it is about time some of the Rays started speaking out." The local community "doesn't support this team which has been among the best in the league the last three years." Ruddick: "Bottom line is if you put a good product on the field people should show up. Maybe the Tampa Bay area just isn't a 162-game baseball town" (THE SPORTS NETWORK, 9/29). ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote, "This market, as currently structured, does not work in the generally predictable ways of other MLB markets, and that lack of predictability means its viability should be in question" (ESPN.com, 9/29).

JOIN THE CLUB: The Rays yesterday announced they are selling memberships to the Playoff Access Club for $100, giving fans the opportunity to purchase one ticket per game for each membership purchased "before tickets are sold to anyone else." Club membership, which the Rays plan to cap at 2,500, also includes a Rays cooler and discounts toward '11 single-game tickets (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/30).

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