Saturday, March 11, 2006
Reds aim for 2 million fans
BY CLIFF PEALE | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The new owners of the Cincinnati Reds are counting on fans to help jump-start their rebuilding of the franchise.
Bolstered by a more favorable schedule this year and a "honeymoon" for new chief executive officer Bob Castellini, the Reds are projecting the sale of up to 2.05 million tickets this year.
If they sell that many tickets, it would be a 5.5 percent increase compared with attendance of 1.94 million last year. Since reaching a high of 2.36 million with the opening of Great American Ball Park in 2003, attendance has declined for the past two seasons.
The Reds wouldn't give exact numbers but said that, so far, the team's ticket sales are about even with the same point last year. That means most of the increase will have to come from tickets sold after the season starts.
"All will depend on results on the field," said Phil Castellini, Bob's son and the Reds' senior director of business operations. "For us, the honeymoon has been great, but it all depends on how the team does."
Along with things like corporate sponsorships and concession sales, ticket sales produce the revenue that would allow the Reds to increase player payroll. Bob Castellini has declared that the team will budget to break even and will start with a payroll of $60 million to $65 million. Adding about 100,000 tickets could add more than $1 million in revenue.
Tom Sandman of Westwood was at the ballpark Friday picking up a schedule but said he'll buy tickets later.
"That always helps," he said about the possibility of a fast start for the Reds on the field. "If they're out of it in August, I might not come back in September. But if they still have a shot, I'll keep coming back."