The Dodgers on Thursday began the sale of season-ticket packages for the '14 season, and "this time it is going to cost more to return to Dodger Stadium," according to Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. TIMES. The team said that more than 45,000 seats are "increasing by less than $3, but they are making it more costly for the premium tickets." Premium season parking "increases from $300 to $400 for the season," and front-row seats between the bases "go up by $30 (from $80 to $110), and rows 2 through 8 increase by $20 ($80 to $100)." The Dodgers essentially "created a new, elite section in the midst of existing stadium levels." Season-ticket prices start at $574 on the top deck and go "up to $9,020 for the front row in the field box." Those buying season tickets also will "have the right" for a limited time to purchase tickets for this year's NL divisional and championship series. Tickets on the loge level are "increasing by no more than $3, and tickets on the reserve level are increasing up to $2 a pop." Left-field pavilion tickets "increase by either $1 of $2, and the all-you-can-eat tickets in the right-field pavilion are up $2 per ticket" (L.A. TIMES, 9/13).
METRICS RISING: In California, Clay Fowler notes Dodger Stadium attendance totals "appear headed for the largest turnout for any major-league team" since the Yankees drew 3.77 million fans during the '10 season. The Dodgers currently "have the highest attendance in baseball, averaging 45,668 per game, nearly 4,000 more" than the second-place Cardinals (Inland Valley DAILY BULLETIN, 9/13). Also in California, Bill Plunkett notes the Dodgers additionally lead the league in attendance "on the road (an MLB-high average of 35,622)." The team's local ratings on FS Prime Ticket are up 42% over last season, the "second-highest increase in the majors" behind the Royals (up 71%) and are their "highest ever" on the RSN. Dodgers merchandise sales also are up 50% this season, "no doubt fueled mightily by the Yasiel Puig phenomenon" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/13).
Red Sox VP/Business Development Tim Zue on Thursday addressed ticket-pricing decisions through the use of data at the Sports Analytics Innovation Summit in Boston. After a period of years where the rest of the industry has now adopted some form of variable ticket pricing, the Red Sox stand alone as the only MLB team with static pricing. But Zue noted that could soon change. Zue: “I foresee us moving into that area in the near future.” After the team’s 794-game sellout streak at Fenway Park ended during the second home game this season, the Red Sox have found themselves adjusting, with attendance down 7.6% through Sept. 11. The team has hired more ticket and group sales reps and introduced new family and college promo ticket packages. While the club held the line on pricing the past two seasons, Zue’s department has been studying the idea of variable models, isolating whether opponent or month or day of the week substantially affect pricing. Zue: “We’ve had such great success selling tickets over the last ten years and frankly we haven’t had to sort of be as forward thinking in this realm as other teams. It’s no secret that this year’s attendance has been down. As we look toward trying to maximize our ticket sales, the hesitance in sports often is slow to adopt change. As a sports team with a long history and a lot of foundation, we’re very thoughtful as to when we adopt change.” He added, “You can’t change these things overnight, so we have to think about modest adjustments.”
GETTING SMARTER: Looking ahead to future pricing models, Zue said, “We’ve been getting smarter about our tickets, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be. We’re probably in the second or third inning of a nine-inning game in terms of how advanced we can get.” The next priority to be examined is real-time seat upgrades for single-ticket buyers already at Fenway Park. His department is currently examining the influence and effect of buying tickets online (where almost 95% of their sales come from) versus a growing market that is purchasing tickets via mobile.
The Seattle Police Department hopes the idea having officers during Sunday's 49ers-Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field wear 49ers apparel will “help fans think twice about how they treat everyone at the game, no matter what team they’re rooting for,” according to a front-page piece by Alexa Vaughn of the SEATTLE TIMES. SPD Captain Jim Dermody and stadium officials “wouldn’t say how many of the officers will go undercover as 49ers fans, or where they plan to circulate in the crowd expected to exceed 67,000 in and around the stadium.” Seattle police “worked undercover during the Seahawks’ exhibition game” against the Raiders. But Dermody said that staffing “will definitely be higher than normal on Sunday because the nationally televised night game is against a division rival.” Vaughn reports the S.F. Police Department has “employed a similar undercover strategy" at Candlestick Park and AT&T Park since ‘11. S.F. Public Information Officer Gordon Shyy said that it is “hard to quantify how many incidents his department might have prevented with the tactic, but they’ve continued to use it, especially at big games.” During the 49ers’ home game last Sunday against the Packers, there were "two felony arrests, six misdemeanor arrests, 13 ejections by police and an additional 33 ejections by Candlestick security.” Shyy acknowledged that the number of incidents at the game “wasn’t as high as expected because Candlestick decided this season to stop selling alcohol after halftime.” CenturyLink Field does the same. Seahawks Dir of Corporate Communications Suzanne Lavender said that the stadium “does not disclose ejection numbers” (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/13).
A SMART MOVE: ESPN's Max Kellerman liked the idea and said, "Even if you don’t have undercovers in the stands, it's going to make people behave like human beings." Kellerman said the NFL "is selling this as a family game, and I don’t want to have to take my kids to a game and worry about knuckleheads." ESPN's Marcellus Wiley said, "It's smart and you don’t even have to actually implement resources to back it up. You can just say, 'Hey, you don’t know the guy next to you who you think is an opposing team fan could can actually be a policeman.' You're going to act right. ... Whether it's random or it's overt, it's a smart move" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 9/12). ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said, "Everybody in the entire NFL should put this to use." ESPN's J.A. Adande: "People should feel free to wear whatever jersey they want to a game without feeling like they're going to be assaulted. So if this helps cut that down, good for the undercover cops ("PTI," ESPN, 9/12). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said, "It sounds silly, but it is the first tangible attempt to check violence based on fan loyalty" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 9/12).
The Indianapolis market has responded to the WNBA Fever's championship last season with "unprecedented increases in corporate support, season ticket sales and merchandise sales to make the franchise profitable for the first time," according to Mark Ambrogi of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Team President & GM Kelly Krauskopf said that signing Finish Line as a marquee partner, which includes jersey sponsorship, was "a big factor in the Fever turning a profit." She added that the team's 67% season-ticket renewal rate for '14 is "impressive considering the season has yet to conclude." Ambrogi reports the Fever enter Friday night's regular-season home finale averaging 8,014 fans per game, fourth in the WNBA. It is the Fever’s "highest ranking since the franchise’s inaugural season." Krauskopf said, "I think we have a vibrant fan base and it’s translating into more merchandise sales and sponsorship sales." Ambrogi notes the Fever's corporate partnerships have grown 65% from '12, with eight new sponsors this year and 60 total. The Fever surpassed $2M in total sponsorship for '13 (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/13).
The Canucks "guard their brand as jealously as the IOC protects its Olympic rings," but there are signs the team's brand "has started to show cracks," according to Gordon McIntyre of the Vancouver PROVINCE. There is "all sorts of anecdotal evidence suggesting the Canucks have become more aggressive over the past three or four years in that brand production, turning off some fans." Then there is the "early playoff exits the past two seasons, the ongoing Roberto Luongo soap opera and the fact that" Fs Daniel and Henrik Sedin "aren't getting any younger." Univ. of British Columbia Sauder School of Business professor Jim Brander said that "there's a lot of uncertainty." He added that the divorce of co-Owner & Chair Francesco Aquilini "didn't help advance the Canucks' brand either." Brander said, "A big part of marketing a team is marketing a big-name player. Luongo has been honest about not being crazy about being here, and that's fine. But it's a big negative for the fans' relationship. He is not going to be the face of the team." McIntyre noted events like a "memorial on the anniversary of Ric Rypien's depression-related suicide have been ordered off the Rogers Arena Grounds," and it "causes some fans to scoff at the team's slogan, 'We are all Canucks'" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/12).
TORT LAW: In Vancouver, Brad Ziemer noted new head coach John Tortorella "absolutely despises Twitter and would prefer his players not use it." He said, "I think it's the most narcissistic thing I have ever seen." Tortorella added that he "won’t ban Twitter, but has warned his players they had better not be tweeting anything from inside the dressing room." He said, "I am not going to handcuff them and treat them like little kids. There better be no information [coming] out of the locker-room with that damn Twitter. It’s nothing but trouble to me.” Tortorella: “I also respect that social media and all that stuff that we talk about, it’s part of that and I need to respect that and I am going to try and respect that. Our locker-room is our locker-room and I believe our guys understand that" (VANCOUVER SUN, 9/13).
In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reports the Bobcats have "shortened the scorers' table" at Time Warner Cable Arena to "create room for eight more floor seats." The addition to what the team calls its Hardwood Club section "pushes the courtside count to 54 seats, up from 46 last season." Each courtside seat "costs $43,000 per season, based on a rate of $1,000 for each game," and buyers "must commit to a three-year contract." Perks include "parking beneath the arena where players park their cars and access to a private lounge area with unlimited food and drink." Hardwood Club members also "receive a private storage locker at the arena." Six of the eight new courtside seats have been sold and "discussions with several prospects for the last two are under way." Assuming all are sold, the Bobcats will "add $344,000 in annual revenue." To make room for the seats, the Bobcats are "moving TV broadcasters to a media section above the lower level of the arena" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/11).
PENT-UP FRUSTRATION: Former Toronto Mayor David Miller on Thursday addressed previous comments in a letter to MLS Toronto FC, saying, "I think I expressed what a lot of long-time season ticket holders are feeling. For me it’s about management. It’s not about the team on the field or the coach. We’ve had seven years and every time we start to build something happens -- the coach gets fired, the general manager gets fired." He added, "What I was trying to express is this club desperately needs stability. People are getting turned off. The sad thing is there was magic at BMO Field. ... I hope they can get it back, but the reason I sent the letter is I think they’re risking losing it for good" (TORONTO SUN, 9/13).
I LOVE THE '90s: In K.C., Sam Mellinger notes Chiefs' season-ticket sales are up from '12, and "TV ratings for their preseason games rose about 20%. While the team "turned off far too many fans last year," it is now "like none of it ever happened." Mellinger: "It's the 1990s again. Amazing how far they've come, and how quickly" (K.C. STAR, 9/13).