Astros Expand Promotional Calendar In Hopes Of Boosting Attendance
The Astros unveiled an expanded promotional calendar this week and said that the additional giveaways were "designed to boost attendance rather than to pacify fans who may have been offended by the sign-stealing scandal," according to Barron & Young of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The club will have 38 game giveaways this season, including 31 that "involve bobbleheads, jerseys, trophies or rings." Last season's Astros attendance of 2,857,367 was down from 2,980,549 in '18, when it was "bolstered by several giveaway days" for '17 World Series replica rings. The Astros have not passed 3 million in home attendance since drawing 3,020,405 in '07. Single-game ticket sales "begin next month, so it's too early to determine whether disappointment about the Astros' acknowledgment that the team engaged in electronic sign stealing" will have an impact on attendance this year. Astros Senior VP/Marketing & Communications Anita Sehgal said that a few season-ticket holders have "asked for or received refunds but that season ticket renewals are up from a year ago." Barron & Young note as part of the '20 calendar, the Astros will, for the first time since '10, "sponsor Pride Night" on June 24, three days before the annual Houston Pride Parade. Last year, the Astros and Rangers were the "only MLB teams not to have an observance of LGBTQ+ inclusion" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/5).
COMPLEX RAMIFICATIONS: Meanwhile, MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal explained why some teams are frustrated with the Astros tabbing Rays VP/Baseball Operations James Click as the club's new GM. Rosenthal said, "This way, they get someone from another team and therein lies the rub with certain clubs and the way they view the penalties." Rosenthal said the backlash against the hiring "happened because the Astros were found guilty of stealing signs illegally" in '17 and '18, so "effectively, the Rays are suffering because the Astros fired" former President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow. Rosenthal: "The Astros circumvented the suspensions because this way, they simply get a new GM in place, where if Luhnow had simply been suspended and not fired, they would have scrambled for a full season." Rosenthal added, "Here are the Rays losing their executive and here are other teams perhaps affected as well if the Rays go and poach an assistant GM from another club" ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 2/4).