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Thread: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

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    Smells Like Teen Spirit jmcclain19's Avatar
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    Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    We've been dancing around the edge of this topic. This will seriously impact the Reds going forward if true.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/...=gammons_peter

    Major League Baseball has warned club businesspeople that attendance is expected to be down 17-20 percent in 2009, and that it could be worse, especially for franchises such as the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and others that could be seriously impacted by the recession.

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Fortunately there is no crying in baseball.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseb...et_deals_N.htm

    Empty spring seats spawn creative regular-season deals
    By Bob Nightengale and Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
    Major League Baseball clubs, concerned by a 12% drop in spring-training attendance, already are trying to find ways to avert a similar downturn in the regular season.

    "Baseball is comfort food," says Bob Crotty, founder of the private Green Diamond Gallery of baseball memorabilia near Cincinnati, who has traveled to Florida and Arizona this spring to watch games. "And people can't afford that comfort right now. Every industry is down 20%, and baseball is no different. Baseball has got to get creative to compete."

    SPRING ATTENDANCE: Arizona hit hard
    TICKET DEALS: Ties to birthdays, stock prices

    Teams have begun offering lower-priced — even free — tickets to help attract cash-strapped fans. Faced with the worst economic climate in decades, some clubs are dropping prices for cheap tickets below the $7.18 average cost of a movie ticket.

    "We're the first sport to really go on sale in the teeth of this (recession)," MLB President Bob DuPuy says. "We'd like to hope that people recognize that we are affordable and that there are ways of coming to games."

    The Los Angeles Angels are requiring everyone in the organization to attend a customer-service seminar. The Baltimore Orioles are offering free tickets to fans celebrating their birthdays that month. The Toronto Blue Jays are offering a $95 pass for 81 home games in their upper deck. And the Minnesota Twins, playing their final games in the Metrodome, are pricing select tickets on the close of the Dow Jones industrial average. If the Dow closes in the 7000s, the $21 tickets will cost $7.

    "At least if the market goes down," says Patrick Klinger, Twins vice president of marketing, "so does the price of a Twins ticket."

    The average spring attendance downturn is due in part to some less-attractive exhibitions featuring World Baseball Classic teams. There have been fewer such games at sites in Arizona, where the recession has hit hard; attendance is down more than 1,200 a game there. The Arizona Diamondbacks took note: In the regular season, the club will invite fans to bring their own food to the ballpark.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseb...tendance_N.htm

    Spring training attendance down at Arizona sites
    By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY
    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Derrick Hall, CEO and president of the Arizona Diamondbacks, couldn't believe what he was hearing or seeing last week.

    He was at HoHoKam Park, spring training home of the Chicago Cubs, and instead of the sound of Cubs fans, there were loud roars for the Diamondbacks.

    "We're beating the Cubs, and the place is erupting," Hall says. "It was so strange. I know we're in our home state, but during spring training, you usually can't get a ticket in Mesa, and they're all Cubs fans. This time, the place wasn't sold out, and the majority were Diamondback fans.

    "That just showed me how the economy is keeping people from traveling here from Chicago."

    The San Francisco Giants had a similar experience in their spring opener in Scottsdale. They were anticipating a sellout crowd for their Feb. 26 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but instead, the place was half-empty, with an announced crowd of 5,803.

    "I couldn't believe all of the empty seats," Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery says. "I mean, Giants-Dodgers, after all of those years being in Vero Beach? Wow.

    "I used to have friends call me and say, 'Can you help us out?" because there were no tickets available. Now, I tell them, 'You can buy your own ticket now.' "

    The recession has hit hard in the Phoenix area, and exhibition games in Arizona haven't been immune. Through the first 11 days of exhibitions, average attendance was 4,472, down from 5,719 at a similar point in 2008.

    The restaurant business is down about 20%, says Don Carson, owner of the popular Don and Charlie's in Scottsdale. Golf and baseball packages have dropped substantially in price.

    "You see it everywhere," Baltimore Orioles scout Gary Roenicke says. "I used to have to keep my hotel window closed because it was so noisy from the bars across the street. But it's so quiet now, it doesn't matter."

    Russell Brooks, president of the Meridian CondoResorts in Scottsdale, says business has plummeted by nearly 50% this spring. There have been far fewer golf packages sold, and none involving spring training.

    He says tee times are far easier to come by, and some that once went for $300 can be had for $99.

    The players have noticed the attendance drop-off, too. The Cubs still lead the Cactus League in attendance, but they're averaging about 3,000 fewer fans than a year ago when they drew a total of 12,805 a game, and they're down more than 1,500 from this time last spring.

    "It's a packed house here usually," Cubs second baseman Mike Fontenot says. "A couple of days you saw a lot of empty seats. You were like, 'Well, maybe it's just early.' But it's getting to the point where with the economy, tickets sales are taking a little bit of a hit. We (will) try to do our part, get out there and sign autographs and stuff."

    If nothing else, says Los Angeles Angels vice president Tim Mead, catching a few hours of baseball can ease some pain.

    "People are not going to be without entertainment," Mead says. "We all need a relief or a release from what's going on in the world."

    Contributing: Mike Dodd in Mesa, Ariz.
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseb...et-deals_N.htm
    Ticket deals tied to birthdays, stock prices
    By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
    Difficult times call for creative measures. Many Major League Baseball teams are offering discounted — even free — seats to lure cash-strapped fans to the ballpark when the regular season starts in April.

    Want a free ticket for your birthday? As part of the club's Birdland Stimulus Package, the Baltimore Orioles are inviting fans to celebrate their birthdays for free at Camden Yards.

    How about a $1 ticket? Several teams, such as the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, are selling buck-a-game seats. The Braves even invite fans to bring their own food and beverages to Turner Field, says Derek Schiller, executive vice president.

    Have your stocks taken a beating? It's not all bad news. The more the stock market falls, the cheaper some Minnesota Twins tickets will be this season.

    Baseball is already the cheapest of the major sports. The 78.6 million fans who attended games last season paid an average of $25.43 a ticket, up 10.1% from the previous season. That's well below the average ticket prices in the NFL, NBA and NHL, according to Team Marketing Report.

    In October, Commissioner Bud Selig warned clubs not to get "too cocky" and overprice tickets. With many fans out of work or struggling to pay their monthly bills, clubs have been scared straight.

    Two-thirds of baseball's 30 teams are expected to either cut or hold prices steady for a majority of their seats, reports MLB President Bob DuPuy. Many clubs put their single-game tickets on sale last week.

    "Our clubs have responded and taken the commissioner's admonition to heart," he says."

    Among the creative offers being touted to baseball fans during tough economic times:

    •Happy birthday. More than 20,000 fans have registered at orioles.com/birthdays since Tuesday for free tickets at Camden Yards, says team spokesman Greg Bader.

    Fans get free upper reserve seats to non-prime games during their birthday months. Fans born January-March get vouchers to April games. Those born October-December get September games.

    "We know things are tight. We pride ourselves on affordability," Bader says.

    •Stock market Mondays. The Twins will price tickets in their Home Run Porch according to the close of the Dow Jones industrials the previous Fridays. If the Dow closes in the 6000s, tickets will cost $6. Tickets in the section had gone for $21.

    "We're trying to take a negative and turn it into a positive. Anyone with an IRA or 401(k) has taken a hit," says Patrick Klinger, vice president of marketing.

    The Dow closed Friday at 6626.94, down 53.2% from its 2007 peak of 14,164.53.

    •Cheap seats. The Braves and Brewers have led the cost-cutting movement with $1 game-day tickets in recent seasons. The Toronto Blue Jays are offering a $95 game-day pass to their upper-deck seating. That works out to $1.17 a game. The Astros have a package of 10 games for $20. And the New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates will offer tickets in the $5 range.

    •Attracting families. MLB's biggest worry is that families will go to fewer games or none at all. Several clubs are reaching out to the family audience. The American League champion Tampa Bay Rays offer free parking to cars with four or more passengers, a savings of $15, says spokesman Rick Vaughn. The Orioles and Twins will admit two kids for free with the purchase of one adult ticket.

    MLB clubs can knock themselves out with the latest ticket promotions, but the ultimate draw is a winning club, says Steve Raab, president of SportsNet New York. "You have to back it up on the field," Raab says.

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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    It's sort of ridiculous to talk about the affordability of a ticket to your sport in comparison to the other major sports when you've got 81 regular season home games versus 8 for the NFL or 41 for the NBA.
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcclain19 View Post
    We've been dancing around the edge of this topic. This will seriously impact the Reds going forward if true.
    I'd like to think that projections like this are why Castellini clamped a lid on FA spending in January. I also wonder if the March projections are so much worse than the December projections that the club might need to shed payroll to avoid a financial bloodbath.
    /r/reds

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    Smells Like Teen Spirit jmcclain19's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    I've been to games the last two Fridays. I was stunned at the lack of people at Phoenix Muni but chalked it up to it still being Feb and a little cold (don't laught but it was in the low 70s). But seeing the Angels Stadium 3/4 full on an 80 deg Friday in March is just unheard of. And that's exactly what I saw. I'm going next Mon to Goodyear and they were still selling seats behind the dugout today.

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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Buy low! Everyone else is retreating! Charge ahead! This is your year! You'll never match the big spenders in an up year! The playing field has leveled! Seize the day!

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    I'd like to think that projections like this are why Castellini clamped a lid on FA spending in January. I also wonder if the March projections are so much worse than the December projections that the club might need to shed payroll to avoid a financial bloodbath.
    I don't think there's any question but that's what happened. I'm not sure we'll have to further shed payroll, but I think the club was seeing these numbers lived out in their season ticket sales too.

    I do wonder why on earth the teams wait so long before individual tickets sales were opened. I would think that they could have gotten a running start on the smaller sales that folks can work in. But then again, that might not add up to much more.
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    Member Strikes Out Looking's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Winning in April now becomes very important for the Reds. If the team is doing well, they'll have a bit of a buzz and some folks will then decide to go to the games--if it is a bad start, they'll be in a bind.

    The good news is that they aren't in a vacuum. Here in DC, the Nats are probably worse off than the Reds for ticket sales--I know tons of people who either downsized or gave up their season tickets completely (I know its hard to believe that with their major offseason acquistion, the LF who shall not be named). Other teams have similar problems, so good starts will help franchises that are on the precipice.

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    Member cumberlandreds's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    I said this earlier that teams that are really poor this season are going to be hit hard at the box office. People are not going to waste what little discretionary income they have on watching a poor team play. The teams that get off to poor starts this season could only have family and friends at the ballpark by end of the season. I don't know if it will be bad enough for a team(s) to fold but it will be interesting to see what happens to some of these teams that don't draw well anyway ie Marlins.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Ive said this before but I would really like to see the financial for a MLB team. How much of the Reds spending is based upon attendance? WLW, FSN Ohio, ESPN, FOX, and XM Radio all add in a big chunk of the Reds revenue. IIRC the Yankees won't have to pay as much revenue sharing money because of their new stadium. We tend to knock the Reds for their spending habits, which is pretty warranted, but it seems as if they made the right financial decision early in December.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to the teams that get off to a slow start, especially Cleveland and Detroit. It will also be interesting to see how this effects the draft (Boras clients) and Latin American signings.

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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Under Castellini, the Reds have been better than previous regimes about marketing Reds games and making it easier for the average fan to attend. But now, the Reds' marketing group is going to *really* have to hustle to get fans in the ballpark. I foresee a lot of weekday 1/2 price tickets, 2-for-Tuesdays, etc etc.

    The Reds do seem to be advertising more on TV than I remember before.

    Granted I was out of work when the bill came due, but I didn't participate in my season ticket group this year. We'll probably attend the same number of games, but it will be cheap tickets, Subway subs, and pops bought at Ameristop before the game.

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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    I'll say attendance is down 3%. This is alarmist garbage. Propaganda to drive down contracts for the next few seasons.

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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    What was the thing that happened last summer? Staycations instead of vacations? When gas was $4.00+ / gallon, folks stayed close to home and instead did more stuff around town. My guess is that the same thing happens this year.

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    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    Re: Gammons: MLB is warning that attendance could be down up to 20% in 2009

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    I'll say attendance is down 3%. This is alarmist garbage. Propaganda to drive down contracts for the next few seasons.

    Or quite possibly, the owners are laying down their defense when they get sued for collusion again. Now they can always say that they thought ticket revenue was going to be way down in 2009 to justify lowballing FAs this year.

    Some of that fear of reduced revenue might be legitimate, but I agree that they are exaggerating. As bad as the Reds have been the last 9 years, they've always drawn around 2 million. They will probably lose some ticket sales, but I doubt 20%.
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