SBD/February 6, 2013/Franchises

Blue Jays' Beeston Said 3 Million In Attendance Possible Should "Everything Fall Into Place"

An average of 25,921 fans came out to the Blue Jays' home games last season
Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston yesterday "proclaimed the baseball team’s attendance could eclipse the three-million mark should everything fall into place during the course of 2013," according to Robert MacLeod of the GLOBE & MAIL. Beeston said that with the "dramatic improvement" Senior VP/Baseball Operations & GM Alex Anthopoulos has made to the team’s on-field product for this season, from a "business standpoint, things are also looking up." Beeston, speaking at the annual state-of-the-franchise event for season-ticket holders, said, "The ticket sales are dramatically up, sponsorships are dramatically up. Everything’s up. But it still comes down to winning." The Blue Jays last year "averaged 25,921 fans for their home games." To reach an "overall attendance mark of three million in 2013, they would need to average about 37,037 -- which would put Toronto in the top 10 in baseball." Attendance at last night's event "likely surpassed 1,500 and was a significant increase over last year’s edition" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/6). In Toronto, Ken Fidlin notes Beeston is "maintaining his tight-lipped stance on season ticket sales." Beeston said, "We haven’t announced them before when things were going bad and we’re not going to start announcing them now that things have turned.” He said that an "attendance total of three million for the 2013 season is not out of the question." Beeston: "Depending on how we get out of the gate. We were 2.1 (million) last year with a really rough August and September. ... All the metrics are very positive" (TORONTO SUN, 2/6).

GETTING CROWDED: In Toronto, Brendan Kennedy reports last night's attendance was "the largest crowd since the inaugural event in 2002." Beeston said, "It certainly has a different feel, doesn't it?" The event was "more of a love-in for fans than a chance to grill team brass." Beeston also "reaffirmed a promise he made at last year’s gathering -- that the Jays would make the post-season in two out of the next five years." Beeston said of replacing the artificial turf at Rogers Centre, "Our intention is to get grass in here." Beeston said that the CFL Toronto Argonauts "remain an obstacle, because they would have nowhere else to play at the moment." Beeston said of potential ticket price hikes, "Let me put it this way, you hope not. But I don’t think they’re going to go down.” The Blue Jays have "not raised ticket prices in four years." Beeston said that if attendance goes up, the prices "could stay steady." But he made "no guarantees." Beeston: “The longer we put it off, the better" (TORONTO STAR, 2/6). SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi noted "many among the estimated crowd of 1,200 stood and applauded" Blue Jays execs as they took their seats, which is "unsurprising after a winter splurge in excess of $200 million ensured that rather than the outlet for fan discontent the evening has regularly devolved into, this night was a smiley, happy one" (SPORTSNET.ca, 2/5).

FINDING THE ZONE: The Blue Jays yesterday announced that TD has become their official financial institution partner. The sponsorship includes Blue Jays music theme nights and the Winter Tour, along with a permanent presence inside the Rogers Centre. The 200 level of Rogers Centre on the south end will be rebranded as the TD Comfort Clubhouse. The exclusive area also will be the new location for the TD Comfort Zone (Blue Jays).
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