03 May 2011

Sixth Sense ?

Twenty seven games represents the first sixth of the season, and prompts some crazy extrapolations. Ryan Roberts is on pace for 36 home runs. Willie Bloomquist - 42 steals.  Armando Galarraga - 18 wins. 

None of these are likely to play out, but one stat is more astonishing than the rest. Today is May 2nd, and Arizona's All Star Game still hasnt sold out. Ticket strips went on sale March 1st, after MLB and Dback package holders had their dibs. Yet one can access the official ticket portal today and purchase actual game seats in most sections of Chase Field.

This probably sets a modern precedent, since the advent of the internet, although comparative sell out dates are not public record. But All Star events are national spectacles that historically draw customers from around the country. It's hard to imagine that a previous All Star date in the internet age would take more than a few days to fill up.

That said, I'd be surprised if it doesnt eventually sell out. The game is still two months away and prices for strips are less than they were in Anaheim and other recent host cities. Judging from the seat locations spit out by the computer, I estimate five to ten thousand vacancies, which may not sound bad until you consider:

1. MLB reserves large ticket blocks for their marquee game. I'm not sure how many, but I've heard 8-10,000. That could be high, but it's a significant number.

2. Dback season ticket holders own about 10,000 seats and logic suggests their number of ASG purchases is probably fairly close to that.

3. There's a copious supply of tickets available at broker and secondary sites. These tickets may have been obtained via the public sale and/or from season ticket holders,or maybe even from MLB. 

What does all this mean? It means that, in two months, the number of tickets sold to end users in the public sale is nowhere near 40,000. It's probably closer to half that. Further, brokers ensure that even when the venue officially "sells out", many tickets will need to be resold in order for the stadium to look full on game day.

Why are sales so slow? This may be the least appealing All Star event ever, especially for out of towners. Phoenix is the hottest city in North America and July, our hottest month. Indeed, the July 12th game date is historically the hottest day of the year. High temps in the shade normally exceed 110 - and late afternoons in the sun, when many events are scheduled, typically register a punishing 130 or higher.  This isnt supposed to be a bunkered survival exercise. People are paying good money to relax, party, drink and have summer fun - and while great effort and expense will be paid to chill VIP venues, it will be extremely challenging for the larger host city to craft a favorable impression.

The other aspect is, of course, political. Several Latin and Caribbean stars have hinted at boycotts, rendering the contest less attractive. Some fans might eschew Arizona on similar political grounds. There is also a prospect of public, and indeed organized, demonstrations, and the escalated version few like to talk about: confrontation and violence.

I hope it doesnt come to that, but this is a volatile, hate filled issue and a spotlight like All Star Weekend will almost assuredly attract activists and, unfortunately, some unstable attention seekers.

If you're a wealthy baseball fan, who makes a habit of going to every midsummer classic, and you ever considered skipping a year, my sixth sense says this might be the one.


Anonymous said...

You're link didn't work? Where do you see All-Star tickets available?

Diamondhacks said...

thanks for the heads up. should work now

Anonymous said...

I think you might be exaggerating a little bit. From playing around with the link, it looks like there a maybe a couple hundred seats available, if that. Did you notice it keeps saying seats aren't available at the different price levels?

Typical of your bloated pieces to exaggerate...

Diamondhacks said...

The software is designed to keep the public in the dark, but there's really nothing to suggest they're a couple hundred short of a sellout. For one thing, we'd be hearing about it from Hall if they were.

You're either falling for or perpetuating MLB's old trick of staggering ticket supply to stimulate demand. For example, when I posted this a couple days ago, the bleachers were "sold out". A couple minutes ago, they werent. Out of about fifteen pricepoints, there's only two or three today supposedly "sold out". There's all sorts of seats, good seats, still available. I dont know how many. I estimated 5-10k. It might be less than five, but I kind of doubt it.

Also, if you're gonna comment on a recurring basis, I'd appreciate it if you pick an identifying handle, like DbacksRep or Bob or something. "No account" needed. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You're a good writer, it's a shame you put a negative spin on EVERYTHING. Weird hobby...

Diamondhacks said...

It may seem relentlessly negative to those who accept or forward a corporate media onslaught of self-interested 'positivism' as normal or objective, but I view Diamondhacks as more contrarian and populist in spirit than negative, countering a persuasive and largely unchecked advocacy disguised as local sports information and 'dialogue'.

For example, right after a miserable spring training, when the lowly Dbacks lost three in a row, dropping to 1-3 with Galarraga probable, I wrote this , which may have been the most hopeful independently published treatment of the team's 'new culture' at the time, and which now - a month later - has been embraced as a mainstream fan position.

The aim here isnt negativity for negativity's sake - it's to forward ideas and issues either missed or hidden by local voices of influence. To fill in the blanks as it were.