The Boston Red Sox announced in a news release on Monday that they would be freezing all season ticket prices for next season. While they were likely expecting a hearty round of praise from fans and the media, the story has barely made a ripple in a city much more interested in the Patriots and Celtics.
Chalk it up to yet another instance of the bumbling Sox ownership group remaining completely out of touch with their fans.
The last time the Sox were this bad, Lyndon Johnson was in his second full year as president. The futility on the field and turmoil off it since the end of the 2011 season has soured many loyal Red Sox followers, and yet the owners continue to show complete disregard for their fans as they continue to dance around the real issues surrounding this franchise.
Forget the economics for a second, and simply ask yourself: why should an unlikable team with a .426 winning percentage charge the highest average ticket prices ($53.38) in MLB? The arrogance of this ownership group—and that’s what it is—drives them to keep the ticket prices right where they are rather than reduce them in an effort to acknowledge the team’s failings and win back a jaded fan base.
They know people will pay. They know they’ll come to the “living museum” of Fenway Park and continue to pay $8.50 for a beer or $5.00 for a hot dog.
Any notion that the Sox would suddenly incur potential losses by lowering prices simply doesn’t hold any weight, not with the prices at Fenway and the incredible amounts of money the team makes on merchandise and owning NESN. And, lest we forget, the organization also just slashed over $250 million in future commitments by trading away Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
If this is really about the fans, they should be able to find a way to make them pay a couple bucks less for their bleacher seats next season.
According to the release, Larry Lucchino believes that the Sox are committed to “bringing our fans the winning and entertaining baseball team they richly deserve.” These words are nice and well-crafted, but completely hollow.
Fans have been more than happy to shell out a lot of money to watch a good team. The Sox have been the most expensive ticket in baseball the last two seasons, and can expect to hold onto a top spot again for 2013.
The major difference now, though, is that this team is not expected to be either “winning” or “entertaining.”
Fans should not have to spend premium prices to watch an inferior product. While they obviously don’t have to go, true Sox supporters have demonstrated their commitment time and again through many lean years. It is shameful of Sox management to take advantage of that loyalty.
For those expecting a free agent bonanza this offseason, that simply is not coming. The Sox may have less payroll flexibility than fans are accustomed to, especially now that reports are emerging that John Henry may be looking for a limited partner for his Fenway Sports Group.
While the Sox can expect to improve even without taking on major additions, the reality is that this is likely a .500 team for the next season or two. If the Sox want to keep their precious sell-out streak alive, they will probably need to cut prices just to fill the seats.
But don’t expect Henry, Lucchino or anyone else to acknowledge how difficult position they’ve put the team and their fans in. You’ll be able to find them right where they always are, smiling as they make a grab for all the money in prospective supporters’ pockets.