Darvish Deal Could Boost Attendance, Merchandise Sales For Rangers
MLB Rangers P Yu Darvish "has the potential to drive up attendance unlike any pitcher here since team president Nolan Ryan was still a hired hand on the mound," according to Jeff Mosier of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Rangers Exec VP/Communications John Blake said, "Certainly in April, we’re expecting there will be a significant spike in attendance because of all the attention.” With a record-setting contract and posting fee for a Japanese player, Darvish’s deal is "generating headlines similar to the Rangers’ then-record signing of slugger Alex Rodriguez" in '00. At least "100 members of the media -- close to half from Japan -- crowded into a corner of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame to see the team’s newest pitcher at a news conference Friday night." In addition, the international nature of the Rangers' signing "has already made this a lucrative opportunity for some retailers." GoodsFromJapan.com's Robert Brown said that sales on his website "doubled after Darvish announced late last year that he would seek a major league contract." It is a "fair prediction that Rangers jerseys and hats will gain popularity in Japan," but the Rangers "will only get a small share of that." Sales in the international markets "are split evenly among the MLB teams." Rangers GM Jon Daniels Thursday on KTCK-AM said that his team "only gets the full amount of its merchandising revenue sold within about 50 miles" of the ballpark. He "encouraged fans to buy Darvish gear at Rangers shops so the team gets more of the money." Because of MLB marketing restrictions, Darvish jerseys "can’t be sold until the team’s April 6 opener against the Chicago White Sox." The ballpark menu also could "see some tweaks to accommodate the Rangers’ new Far East flavor." Delaware North Companies Sportservice spokesperson Glen White, whose company handles ballpark concessions, said that there "are plans to test a few new items." Blake said that there is also an "opportunity for the Rangers to work with travel companies to bring fans from Japan to see Darvish pitch in Arlington" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/21).
COMING UP ACES: MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan said Friday was the "biggest news conference for a Rangers player since the club signed" Rodriguez, and team officials "came away impressed with the way Darvish handled himself" (MLB.com, 1/20). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson wrote at the press conference, Darvish "had good stuff and earned a complete-game victory Friday in his introductory news conference" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/21). Daniels said at the press conference, "There haven't been too many off-the-field moments as big as the one that brings us here today" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/21). Meanwhile, in Dallas Gerry Fraley noted if "form holds, the Rangers likely will open next season in Tokyo," as the addition of Darvish "has raised the Rangers' profile in Japan" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/22).