Offseason Baseball: Why the Red Sox Succeed

by Suzie Raven

How does a team fill a baseball stadium all the time, given the sport’s relatively high number of games? Ask the Boston Red Sox, a winning team that gives fans a sense that baseball cares about them. They have sold out every home game since May 13, 2003, a Major League Baseball (MLB) record. But can they continue to sell out next season if the economic crisis continues into the spring? Yes, thanks in part to announcing their first freeze on ticket prices since 1995.

Obviously, winning teams sell tickets. Between 2003 and 2008, the Red Sox made the playoffs every year except for 2006. In 2004 and 2007, they won the World Series. However, the Red Sox are not the only club consistently in the playoffs. The New York Yankees made the post-season every year from 1995-2007, winning the Fall Classic in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Yet they cannot claim the same number of sell outs. Red Sox fans are known for their incredible loyalty, so maybe this isn’t a big surprise.

During the last six years, fans could afford tickets, which is also important in selling out games. Fans weren’t worried about failing banks and unusually high unemployment rates. The Red Sox had already sold all of the tickets for 469 consecutive regular season games by the time the bank buy-out crisis hit. Now that hiding your money under the mattress suddenly doesn’t sound quite so crazy, fans will appreciate the ticket price freeze.

"We have been listening to fans, friends and family about the challenges they are facing in light of the current adverse economic conditions," Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino said. "We are also grateful for the unwavering faith and support our fans have shown us year after year.”

The Red Sox didn’t have to freeze ticket prices. Despite the economic downturn, I’m sure enough fans in the notoriously zealous Red Sox Nation would have bought tickets next spring no matter what. Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures. In 1995, the Red Sox had to freeze tickets to win back fans. It was the first season after the 1994 strike which led to the only cancelled World Series in history. Since not even WWI or WWII cancelled the World Series, the strike threatened to kill baseball.

Tickets will go on sale Dec. 13, at a holiday party at Fenway Park. While that will be the true test, I’m sure the Boston Red Sox will pull through the economic crisis with flying colors. They consistently field a playoff caliber team and respond to the needs of fans. Find me a mortgage company that can say the same.

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kbgressitt said...

A bit off topic, but Larry Lucchino has had some extraordinary successes, including his recovery from cancer -- twice -- which exemplifies the dire need for healthcare reform: He had the resources to access experts and experimental treatment not available to the typical healthcare consumer. Expanding the availability of care to all who need it could be the achievement that engenders for the incoming administration the type of loyalty the Red Sox enjoy of their fans. Perhaps a comparable freeze on healthcare "ticket" prices would help.

Turk said...

It's easy to look benevolent by not raising ticket prices when you can afford to outspend all but one other team in MLB. As for the "hardcore" and dedicated Sox fans that managed to finally surpass the Indians sell-out streak, where were they before 2003?

Suzie Raven said...

Spending money on players doesn't get you to the World Series. Look at the Rays. Even the Phillies have a significantly smaller payroll than the Red Sox or Yankees.

The Red Sox sold out most of their games even before 2003. Selling out in 2003 meant that many dedicated, loyal fans BEFORE they broke the curse. I spent the summer of 2001 in Boston, and was only able to go to Fenway because the organization I was with already had a block. I tried to get tickets on my own in February or March, and couldn't. I can't speak about Indians fans specifically, but Sox fans are intense.

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