Fehgetaboutit! The 2011 MLB season is over, and with it those that weren’t fortunate enough to make the World Series have already begun reaching out to fans in the off-season to get them into seats when the 2012 season kicks off in April.
Two key AL East clubs have gotten an early jump on releasing ticket prices.
When you think about it, it makes sense that the Red Sox and Rays are those two clubs . The Red Sox, who saw an epic collapse (it’s ironic that the Rays were the ultimate beneficiary of the Sept. swoon by Boston), the loss of not only Terry Francona but Theo Epstein as well after the whole “chicken and beer” debacle went down, need to somehow say to fans, “That was then. 2012 will be different.”
For the Rays, their needs are more long term. Challenged on several major fronts, the team that has made the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 seasons could only muster ranking second to last in attendance last season.
Here’s how they shake out.
Red Sox Hold the Line (again) On Ticket Prices
The Boston Red Sox have said that prices for all ticket categories for the 2012 regular season at Fenway Park will be held at 2011 levels. This marks the second time in four years the team has held ticket prices as the Red Sox also froze prices across the board for the 2009 season.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. While clubs price the houses differently, touting pricing decreases, while other areas of the ballpark seeing an increase, given the turmoil in Beantown, if they weren’t going to cut prices, nothing less than the status quo would have been acceptable.
That wasn’t lost on ownership of the Red Sox.
"John Henry, Tom Werner, and the members of our Front Office spend considerable time each year discussing ticket pricing and policies for the following season, and as a group we make a concerted effort to look at our business through the prism of Red Sox fans. Over the last several years, many in Red Sox Nation have experienced economic difficulties, and every fan has gone through some trying times - particularly at the end of the 2011 season - as the team fell short of our goal of reaching the post-season," said President/CEO Larry Lucchino. "The decision to hold ticket prices next season is just one of many ways we hope to show our gratitude to Red Sox Nation in 2012 for the unfailing support they have shown at the ballpark, and for their faith in the Red Sox. It is also part of an effort we've made over the last few years to slow the growth of season ticket and individual game tickets to ensure the Fenway Park experience is a viable option for as many citizens of Red Sox Nation as possible. We are constantly impressed by our fans' love of the game and our franchise, and we hope to see them fill up Fenway Park next year as we celebrate the ballpark's special 100th anniversary season."
The first opportunity for Red Sox fans to purchase tickets for the 2012 season will be the annual, all-day "Christmas at Fenway" presented by Stop & Shop on Saturday, December 10th.
Tampa Bay Rays See Most Tickets Same, But 10% Will See Increase
After making the Rays made playoffs in dramatic fashion on the last day of the season, for the third time in four seasons the Rays announced that prices for 90 percent of their tickets will remain the same or decrease for the 2012 season. The club is continuing their 4-teir system of pricing. According to the Rays:
For 2012, there will again be four categories of single-game ticket pricing: Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver. All ticket prices for each game are subject to change at the Rays discretion. Diamond games are all Friday, Saturday and Sunday games versus the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Yankees (including Opening Day). Platinum games include Monday through Thursday games versus the Yankees and Red Sox.
Those increases will show up as $1 to $2 for select seats in the lower box and some outfield seats.
"Our on-field accomplishments over the past four seasons have provided some memorable moments for our fans. Just as important to us is that our ticket prices have remained among the most affordable in all of professional sports," said Rays President Matt Silverman. "Our ticket options for 2012 will again be aimed at making the ballpark experience affordable for families."
Upper Deck seats will cost as little as $9 for 28 of the Rays home games in 2012. The Rays tout that overall, more than one million tickets will be priced at $25 or less.
In addition, the Rays will make an adjustment to weekday game times at Tropicana Field next season. All Monday through Friday games will start at 7:10 p.m., with the exception of 12 weekday day games including three dates against the New York Yankees: Opening Day, April 6 at 3:10 p.m.; Independence Day, July 4 at 3:10 p.m.; and Labor Day, September 3 at 1:10 p.m. Saturday game times will be announced at a later date and Sundays will remain at 1:40 p.m.
Gold games include the remaining Friday, Saturday and Sunday games, as well as a featured series versus the New York Mets (Tuesday, June 12 - Thursday, June 14). Silver games include the remaining weekday games in which both Upper Box and Upper Reserved seats will be $9.
One thing you have to tip the hat to the Rays to: They will continue to the policy of allowing fans to bring food and select beverages into the ballpark and free parking for carpoolers.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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