There is a reversal of sorts occurring in sports business these days. In facilities across the Big-4 sports, off-seasons see construction crews tearing out walls and reconfiguring space, not to add luxury suites, but to remove them.
Russell Adams of the Wall Street Journal writes (So long to the suite life), that the reasonings are due to factors as complex as how gifts are now viewed from a tax and political perspective, to businesses simply looking to maximize on their investments. As reported by WSJ:
When Seattle's Safeco Field was completed in 1999, the $517 million ballpark was a huge draw for a business community that included titans like Microsoft and Boeing. Those companies helped boost the team's revenue by more than $20 million a year by signing multi-year leases in the stadium's 68 suites. The suites, which sell for as much as $200,000 per season, are a key reason why the team went from struggling financially a decade ago to being one of the most profitable teams in Major League Baseball.
By 2003, the suites had become a tougher sell. For one thing, the pool of companies that needed or wanted to entertain 16 people at a time for 81 games was shrinking, according to Bob Aylward, the team's executive vice president of business operations. The Mariners made several moves to try to lift sagging demand. In 2003, the team began offering 10-game packages for some suites that previously had been sold on a 20-game, half- or full-season basis.
Then, late last year, following the lead of teams like the Tigers and Brewers, they knocked down eight of the suites and created a lounge where people could get all the food, drinks and other amenities of a suite but have it included in the price of a ticket. The new All-Star Club is a bit short on intimacy -- with a capacity of 140 people -- but it is $100 to $125 per game versus at least $17,000 for a 10-game suite package. The lounge has the potential to generate well over $1 million annually, which the team says would be a net gain because on a typical night 10 to 14 suites were sitting vacant. "We're smarter now than we were when we planned this facility," says Mr. Aylward.
A graphic is included in the article showing the number of suites in several facilities, the cost range for the suites, and work being done on the facilities on removal or reconfiguration of them (suite count represents new figure since construction). MLB related data is displayed below:
| Team||Suites ||Cost ||Comment |
|Mariners || 60 ||$87,150 - $199,000||Knocked out eight suites to create a luxury lounge called the All-Star Club |
|White Sox|| 93||$85,000 - $110,000 ||The club recently got rid of 10 suites -- and says the current number of 93 is still probably too many|
|Brewers || 64 ||$100,000 - $105,000 ||Turned fives suites in a 240-person club to accommodate Wisconsin fans' penchant for group outings|
|Devil Rays || 64 ||$50,000 - $150,000 ||To boost sales, Rays are remodeling suites and offering up batting practice |
|Blue Jays || 131 ||$90,000 - $100,000 ||The club last year gutted 10 luxury suites to create meeting/party area |
|red Sox || 40 ||$250,000 - $350,000 ||Upgrading boxes with flat-panel TVs, heated outdoor seats, surround sound and granite countertops. |