|Image courtesy of Peaceful Pixel|
The Blue Jays may not have signed a flashy big name free agent this off-season, and yet interest in the club is higher than it has been in years. Subsequently, trying to find a seat to the Home Opener has suddenly become the hottest ticket in town.
This coming off the heels of news that the Blue Jays Home Opener sold out in a mere 90 minutes after single game tickets went on sale. One might wonder how 48,000 tickets could go that quickly, but truth be told there was only around 6,000 tickets or so available once 10am hit last Friday.
In speaking with my Blue Jays ticket rep, he informed me last Wednesday that there were already 42,500 sold for the Home Opener. And even as early as February 8th, there were 30,000 tickets sold. So it only seemed like it was only a matter of time before the Home Opener sold out.
With the bevvy of pre-sales prior to the official single game ticket sale date, there really weren't all that many tickets available anyway. Most of them had been snatched up by season ticket holders, flex pack holders, and 20-game ticket purchasers.
Just for a frame of reference, last year's Home Opener didn't officially sell out until March 23rd. This year, all the tickets were gone on February 17th; a mere 90 minutes after they went on sale.
In the past, one could probably very easily find a ticket to the Home Opener in the days leading up to the first game of the season at the Rogers Centre. Now, you might have to spend upwards of $118 dollars on StubHub just to get yourself a 500 level ticket to the Home Opener.
What can this sudden surge of interest be attributed to? While other teams like the Los Angeles Angels are boasting increased ticket sales to the signing of free agents like Albert Pujols, the Blue Jays don't quite have that same luxury.
For a team that has been criticized for not being more active in the free agent market this off-season, the Blue Jays have definitely been able to cultivate a flurry of interest with their fans.
Sure, one could take the cynical outlook and focus on the inevitable attendance drop-off following the Home Opener. There's no question that the dome will probably only have half the amount of fans on April 10th compared to April 9th, but I think the Home Opener sellout is a very good sign of things to come.
The club may have had a bit of difficulty managing fan expectations this off-season, but one thing the Blue Jays did very well is they managed to get folks talking about the team.
The new uniform unveiling in November, combined with being linked to numerous free agents has helped the team remain at the forefront of people's minds. Those are just a few ways the Jays have been newsmakers in what can seem like an extremely length off-season.
The second consecutive year of the Blue Jays Winter Tour helped create some top of mind awareness during the cold winter months. A very active roster of Blue Jays player Twitter accounts was another way the club was able to remain interactive with fans.
A great deal of the press the Blue Jays received may have been negative this winter, but in a city where you have to battle with three other professional sports teams, I guess any publicity is good publicity.
It's a definitely a great sign when people are talking about the Blue Jays in the middle of February.
Toronto is arguably a hockey town, but if things keep progressing the way they have been these past few years, it won't be long before baseball is the talk of the town once again.
Thanks to Peaceful Pixel for the picture from the 2011 Blue Jays Home Opener