It has never been more difficult to get a ticket to professional sports than it is in Boston in 2008.
While the Red Sox have sold out every game for four-plus years, things aren't much better with Boston's other teams. The Celtics, coming off a championship, have hiked prices and sold out of any seats under $37 (read: not many) on the first day. The Patriots, even with Tom Brady's demise, are going to be selling out games for an awful long time. Even the comparatively lowly Bruins start at $23.50 a game for a student ticket in the nosebleeds and act like it's a great deal.
In short, unlike virtually every other major city in the US, Boston is the only place where you can't walk up to the door of a professional event and purchase tickets for anything less than $50-plus.
Boston's opponent in the ALCS, as a counterpoint, sold upper-deck seats for $9, with free parking if you brought four or more people in the same car. So, for $36 in Tampa Bay, you can get four people a seat. In Fenway, you have to purchase nine months in advance, and it's $20 for a standing-room ticket.
To me, it's incredibly simple: We have the highest demand, so, at the very least, we should have comparative supply. Obviously, every team in the majors is trying to artificially decrease the number of available tickets, but I believe we have reached an untenable situation for Boston sports fans, in which the sheer frustration of never being able to attend any games will eventually sour people on following sports at all.
Everyone has fond stories to tell of their first game, or heading into the park in the summer with their family. As it is now, this situation is nearly impossible.
The Marlins simply do not have a solid foundation in Florida. After two championships in six years, regardless of any excuses, the fans simply don't care. With the legislature dragging its feet in getting taxpayers to give hundreds of millions to an unpopular team (good luck with that one, guys), and Dolphin Stadium being at best a mediocre home to any sport, the Marlins may not be long for Florida.
The other issue is the recession/depression. Florida has been hit harder by foreclosures than Massachusetts and has a larger elderly resident base. When times are tough, it makes sense to consolidate with a known strength. Does anyone really doubt that at least 14,000 Bostonians would go to a game each night, especially if ticket prices are closer to league average than Boston average?
Surely there are obstacles to the Boston Pilgrims. Boston, of course, had two teams up until the Braves moved to Milwaukee, but Boston is a dramatically different city now. Back then, while the Red Sox were still very popular, they weren't the phenomenon they've been over the last decade.
Boston has also evolved from a purely working class city to more of a metropolis, offering more disposable income even during a recession. And, purely statistically, 3,456,063 people lived in the Boston metro area in 1950; as of 2006, it's 4,482,857.
Secondly, funding would be a concern. Until a ballpark could be built, the Fenway Sports Group would, I'm sure, be happy for added revenue by having two teams use Fenway Park. With the number of hi-tech companies in the Boston area, I believe we could work a similar arrangement to that of Metropolitan Stadium around mid-century, where companies treated the team and stadium as an investment, and shared in the profits in exchange for up-front capital.
The other question, of course, is the Red Sox, who surely enjoy their monopoly status. But it would be clear from the start that the Pilgrims would be the second team in Boston, as an addition instead of a replacement to the Red Sox. As a peace offering, much like Peter Angelos and the Nationals a few years back, I believe the Pilgrims should be placed under the NESN banner, allowing FSG to profit off of the second team.
Something simply needs to break when it comes to the current sports landscape. Everyone else in the country can see sports without taking out a loan, and without buying 6-10 months before. Why not us?
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