By Ryan Lack
Today, we’re taking a break from the NCAA Tournament. There have been a lot of games played, plenty of analysis conducted and published, and lots of upsets. We think the tournament can sit for now as they move into Sweet 16 action tomorrow. On top of that, Florida Gulf Coast ripped my Aztecs a new one last night and the wounds are still fresh. I’d rather not talk about it.
What we would like to cover is the recent move by the Milwaukee Brewers to provide fans an incentive to purchase mini ticket packages. It’s really a pretty brilliant strategy, though it’s based on an assumption that the fans will be willing to wager $99 for a nine game package that improves the more the team wins.
The way it works is the fan shells out the required cash and gets tickets to nine select Tuesday games. The seats for the first game sound like they’re crap with a face value of $11 each, but if the team wins the game you attend your next game will be viewed from better seats, and so on. Extrapolating that out to a reasonable Brewers winning streak and you could end up in some of the better seats that far exceed the value of your ticket package or any of the seats included with it.
It’s such a simple sales tactic, which is why it’s hard to believe no one has thought of it before. Based on a variety of reports this appears to be the first time a team has tried this and I’d wager more will follow suit depending on the success of the pilot program. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a good bet for both sides and an even better way to try and up attendance, which we all know has been absolutely pathetic league-wide for the last decade+.
Major League Baseball really needs to start thinking outside the box. What used to be “America’s Pastime” is now a shadow of its former self, partially, in my opinion, due to the shitty leadership of one Allan Huber “Bud” Selig, who provides the ultimate irony in this instance. Good ol’ Bud was/still kind of is a minority owner of the Brewers, as well as commissioner of baseball.
Attendance has been dwindling for years, as I said, and MLB has done nothing to address this problem. At this point the attendance issue comes in a close second, if not supersedes, the use of steroids by players as a major cause of the shift from being known as “America’s Pastime” to just the game we call baseball and sometimes watch.
Bud and MLB need to take a lesson from the NFL. The NFL has found a way to become a year-round sport, not just something that happens between early August and February. The season starts in late summer, ends in late winter, the draft is in mid-spring, opens mini-camps in mid-summer, and then starts all over. This approach insures the sport is constantly in the forefront of the media’s and fans’ minds. The MLB is nowhere near this in terms of mindshare and it’s why football is now “America’s Pastime,” for all intents and purposes.
Thinking outside the box to get fans back to the ballpark should be priority number one right for Bud and the league, not steroids, not union disagreements. If the fans don’t show up, you don’t have money, which means you don’t have a business on the whole. The league needs to provide incentive to show up and giveaways of bobbleheads is only going to work for so long. It’s time to get creative. It’s time to get proactive and engaged in fixing the problem instead of sitting back and hoping fans will show until October when they do because they like the excitement of the playoffs … and because people are bandwagoners that can’t stand to show out under normal circumstances.
Come on, Bud. Lead for once.