Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Hottest Ticket in Town: the Blue Jays Home Opener


By
Image courtesy of Peaceful Pixel
For a team that was heavily scrutinized for failing to make a big splash in the free agent market, they certainly know how to sell tickets to their Home Opener.

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

7 comments:

  1. I am interested to see if there is a rise in overall sales this year. I'm hopeful that there will be. It is nice to see that fans are starting to get excited about this team (as they should be) and hopefully this early sell out is more of a sign of things to come for the Jays, and not a just a result of Boston being in town, which generally does make empty seats a little harder to find.

    Either way, I can't wait for April 9th to see the team showin off those new uni's at home for the first time!

    Go Jays!

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  2. Ball Fan, I think things are definitely headed in the right direction. Last year, I believe the only sellouts were the Home Opener and the Alomar bobblehead day. With Father's Day falling on a game against the Phillies, that very well could be close to a sellout this year too.

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  3. The Boston Red Sox are the visiting team for the home opener. Attendance always goes up when the Bosox are in town. Many home opener tickets were sold in ticket packs over the winter. Opener always sells out, probably not a sign of things to come, keep dreaming. Attendance will only go up when they start to win consistently.

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  4. I went to my first home opener last year - and I will never go to one again. It felt like a concert at a club where some folks are interested in the band but many are just there to drink, text other people about where they are and hear the band's new single. People were drunk, throwing towels and items on the field delaying the game and too many were disinterested in actual baseball. However, I also went to game 3 and the crowd of 30,000 was WAY more into the game.

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  5. Anon, I suspect the Red Sox in town have something to do with it. There was an early week 2-game series last year against the Red Sox and it only drew 17,000 and 19,000, so who knows what the April 10th and 11th games could look like.

    Bart, I'll fully admit the Home Opener is not a family friendly environment. There are some folks who are just there for the party, so it's not for everybody. I would definitely say the Home Opener is something that everybody should at least experience once in their lifetime.

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  6. Wait, did you just say there will be twice as many fans on the 10th as on the 9th? So, 90,000 people? haha

    Seriously though...while there were two "officially" sold out games last season, the Canada Day game and game vs. Phillies the day after with Halladay on the mound both had attendance a couple hundred short of full sellout, and I do recall several other games during the season (that I was at) that had 30,000+ easily.

    All that being said, in regards to 2012...it's the new uniforms.

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    Replies
    1. Whoops! I forgot to mention that Wrestlemania has been rescheduled for April 10th and moved to the Rogers Centre, so that explains the attendance bump.

      That Canada Day weekend was the most packed I've seen the dome for a three game set in a LONG time. I wonder if that could bode true once again when they're in town for the Father's Day weekend.

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