Boys of Summer are Back!
You can smell it in the
air. Fresh cut grass, cool air, a couple of dogs, a bag of peanuts and
a cold beverage of your choice. Yes folks, baseball is back and it’s going
to be a great season. At least for the ballplayers.
This week Major League Baseball kicked off another season and began the long grind of 182 game season. The Los Angeles Dodgers got Manny back being Manny and have high hopes of returning to the playoffs and another run at a title. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are looking to return to the World Series with the addition of several key plays and Vlad playing great spring ball. The Houston Astros are picked last in every pre-season poll I have read. Their season hinges solely on how the starting pitching does and even with the pick-up of Mike Hampton they may still be in trouble.
There has been lots of talk about the economy and how it will affect major League Baseball ticket sales this year. Many on the inside are bracing for a slowdown in attendance this year as ticket prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. Teams must find ways to pay for new stadiums and the hefty price tag of free agency.
Last week New York Yankee official was quoted as saying that Yankee tickets are overpriced at this particular time. Probably, but with the off season signings that they had which locked several players into long term contracts for well over 300 million dollars you can’t really lower ticket prices can you. Add Alex Rodriguez’s monster contract of last year into the mix and you are talking about big numbers and huge revenue that must be generated just t meet payroll. I wouldn’t lose to much sleep over the Yankees as they are the most expensive club in the bigs and also generate the most revenue. Still, what do clubs do in markets without star players and huge money to attract name free agents which raise attendance?
It depends on who you ask. Last years American League World Series team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and went all the way only to come up short to the Phillies. There are really two schools of thought. The first being that these smaller market teams will be hurt more by the economic crisis because the have few star players to attract fans. This coupled with the economy and high ticket prices will force teams to look for ways to cut payroll which means they will look to move star players, which will then mean less fans. A bit of a cycle right?
The other school of thought is that you don’t need a team full of star players to win a championship and need only look to last years American League Champions. Smaller market teams will have to work harder to find the diamond in the rough players and possibly go young in an effort to keep a nucleus of players together.
The great thing about baseball is that anything can happen. In a league of great payroll disparity, there seems to always be one team that takes on a David vs. Goliath (aka Yankees) and beets the odds.
None-the-less, the MLB will see a decline in attendance this year and will begin to look for new ways to attract an audience. From discounted tickets, to low price Sunday games to good old fashion gimmicks, which will undoubtedly work on some level.
The best times I can remember where going to the Yankees game and buying a ticket to sit in the bleachers for $6.00. The fans were die-hard and the action there always seemed to make the game more exciting. The Astros used to sell tickets at the Dome that allowed you entry in to the left field bar, which was also a lot of fun. The point being is that you will always be able to find good deals to a game or two throughout the season. You just need to do your homework and keep your eyes open to what these teams are offering throughout the season. How many of you remember bringing a Coke can to the game for a few bucks off the ticket price?