Red Sox Sellout Streak In Jeopardy

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An aerial view of the Fenway Park which opened for its first game April 20, 1912, making it one of the nation's oldest stadiums. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
An aerial view of the Fenway Park which opened for its first game April 20, 1912, making it one of the nation's oldest stadiums. (AP)

With Thursday's loss, the Red Sox have lost 11 of their last 12 home games and are last in the division. As the team’s prospects fall, so is demand for tickets. Usually a hot item, tickets are selling well below face value on resale markets.

Tickets Going For 10 Percent Of Face Value

Hours before Thursday's game, I asked my co-worker, Sean Bowditch, to see what tickets were going for at online resellers such as StubHub.

"So the first thing that pops up: $3.44," he said. "That’s ridiculous. I mean, a candy bar costs more than that."

That was the price each for a couple of seats in the eighth row of the outfield grandstand. Face value: $30. And it wasn’t just a decimal error. Bowditch found dozens more available at $4 apiece.

"Never. Never have I seen [Red Sox] tickets this cheap," he said.

That's cheaper than a beer at the ballpark and that’s not exactly comforting to people who’ve already plunked down big bucks for tickets at face value.

Brian Matt, the CEO of a product innovation company in Somerville, is a season ticket holder. Pricey ones at that: four seats in the State Street Pavilion level. He never used to have a problem selling tickets he couldn’t use at face value — $176 apiece. But that was before last season’s historic collapse and the shabby start to this one.

"Now I can’t even give some of them away," Matt said. "I have a whole staff of 35 people, and does anybody want tickets? No, not really."

Matt is glad he split the ticket package with a couple of friends before the season started. He sure didn’t expect this.

"I don’t care that they’re losing," Matt said. "I really don’t. I wish they would win. But that’s not why. It’s hard to fall in love with this team."

A Streak In Jeopardy

The lackluster performance on the field so far this year is lowering demand for tickets, and that could spell an end to the Fenway Park sellout streak dating back to 2003.

"This streak is a fragile thing," said Sam Kennedy, a top Red Sox excutive. "And it will end at some point."

"This streak is a fragile thing, and it will end at some point."

Sam Kennedy, Red Sox executive

Kennedy helped craft what is now the longest sellout streak in Major League Baseball history. It helps that Fenway is relatively small. Kennedy says selling a high number of season tickets in advance also plays a part. So does selling more seats long before the season even starts. So Kennedy says the Sox are on track to keep selling and donating more tickets to each game than there are seats in the stadium.

"For now and through the summer months," he said. "I think if the team were completely out of the race and we have some bad weather, bad luck in September, we could see it come to an end. But we’ll stay positive and optimistic that that’s not gonna happen."

Good News For Bargin Hunters

While the Red Sox are reaching out to more people on waiting lists and celebrating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary to lift demand, the falling resale market for tickets brings joy to some fans.

"Maybe this is the year we’ll go to a game and maybe a couple of games!" said Leslie MacPherson Artinian, who grew up in New Hampshire not far from Carlton Fisk’s hometown. She was 7 years old in 1967 and she’s been a fan ever since that Impossible Dream season. She has fond memories of sitting in the bleachers with her parents. Now she has her own children.

"I haven’t been to a game since my older boy was about 5. And now he’s 11," she said.

"Yeah, it’s been that long. Because even sitting in the bleachers, it’s really expensive for a family going to a game. And ideally, I’d love to go to games frequently but that’s just out of my price range."

Maybe not anymore.

This program aired on May 11, 2012.

Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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