Sports
5:14 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Red Sox Slump Threatens Home Sellout Streak

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 6:52 pm

It was supposed to be a banner season at Fenway Park — the ballpark's 100th anniversary. But the Boston Red Sox are stuck in the basement of their division, having lost 11 of their last 12 home games.

It's putting Major League Baseball's record sellout streak in jeopardy. Ever since 2003, the Sox have sold out Fenway Park for every game — 727 consecutive games.

You don't normally see scalpers outside Fenway like Ken Samuelian. "Great box seats, great price, below face!" he says. Samuelian, a banker, is a season-ticket holder and never used to have any problem unloading extras. But here he is before Thursday night's game, still wearing his suit from work. And no takers.

"I don't know what they did with this team this year, but boy they really ... laid an egg," he says.

"Great box seats, great price!" he yells to passersby.

Ticket Prices Dive

He's not the only one here shaking his head at how demand to see games is falling. Chip Case, a Red Sox fan and renowned economist, says he has never seen ticket resale prices here drop this low.

"Even last year during the fade, when they weren't very popular, you found them selling for 1 1/2 or two times face value," he says. "And now they're — I have $130 tickets. Come here to buy those same tickets, you probably get them for $20. Maybe $10."

Some tickets sold for less than four bucks yesterday — that's less than half the cost of a beer at the ballpark. Not exactly comforting to Brian Matt, the CEO of a local company. He spent $57,000 this season for a set of premium tickets.

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

Matt's glad he split the ticket package with a couple of friends before the season started.

"It's hard to fall in love with this team," he says.

'A Fragile Thing'

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

Kennedy has it easier than his counterparts at other ballparks because Fenway has fewer seats — around 37,000. Kennedy expects the streak to continue for months at least — partly thanks to fans who bought tickets before the season while they were still optimistic — and tourists who want to see a game during Fenway Park's century season.

"For people to suggest we give just away tickets to get to a certain sellout metric or level is silly," he says. "We don't do that. We won't do that."

While many Sox fans take pride in the streak, there are at least some who wouldn't mind seeing it come to an end.

"Maybe this is the year that we'll go to at least a game and maybe a couple of games," says Leslie MacPherson Artinian. She hasn't taken her family to a game for the past six years.

At an average Fenway ticket price of more than $50, it's just been too expensive. MacPherson Artinian remembers going to games with her parents. She's been a fan ever since 1967, when she was 7 years old and the Red Sox went to the World Series.

"It's the background noise of my life," MacPherson Artinian says. "And I wish we could go to more games just so it could be that way for my boys, too."

This season her wish may be coming true.

Copyright 2012 WBUR. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

At Fenway Park in Boston it was supposed to be a banner season, the ballpark's 100th anniversary. But the Red Sox are stuck in the basement of their division. They've lost 11 of their last 12 home games. And that is jeopardizing a Major League record, the sellout record. Ever since 2003, the Sox have sold out Fenway Park for every game, 727 consecutive games.

From member station WBUR in Boston, Curt Nickisch reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CROWD)

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: You don't normally see scalpers outside Fenway like this guy.

KEN SAMUELIAN: Great box seats, great price, below face.

NICKISCH: Ken Samuelian is a banker. He's a season ticket holder and never used to have any problem unloading extras. But here he is before last night's game, still wearing his suit from work. But no takers.

SAMUELIAN: I don't know what they did with this team this year. But, boy, they really laid an egg.

Great box seats, great price.

NICKISCH: He's not the only one here shaking his head at how demand to see games is falling. Chip Case is a Red Sox fan and a renowned economist. He's never seen ticket resale prices here drop this low.

DR. CHIP CASE: Even last year during the fade, when they weren't very popular, you found them selling for one-and-a-half or two times face value. And now they're - I have $130 tickets. And come here to buy those same tickets, you'll probably get them for $20, maybe 10.

NICKISCH: Some tickets sold for less than four bucks yesterday - that's less than half the cost of a beer at the ballpark. Not exactly comforting to Brian Matt. The CEO of a local company spent $57,000 this season for a set of premium tickets.

BRIAN MATT: Now I can't even give some of them away. I have a whole staff of 35 people here. And I say anybody want tickets? No, not really.

NICKISCH: Matt is glad he split the ticket package with a couple of friends before the season started.

MATT: It's hard to fall in love with this team.

NICKISCH: This season's lackluster performance is endangering the record streak of sold out games.

SAM KENNEDY: This streak is a fragile thing and it will end at some point.

NICKISCH: Sam Kennedy is a top Red Sox executive. He has it easier than his counterparts at other ballparks, because Fenway has fewer seats - around 37,000. Kennedy expects the streak to continue for months at least, partly thanks to fans who bought tickets before the season while they were still optimistic and tourists who want to see a game during Fenway Park's century season.

KENNEDY: For people to suggest that we would just give away tickets to get to a certain sellout metric or level is silly. We don't do that. We won't do that.

NICKISCH: While many Sox fans take pride in the streak, there are at least some who wouldn't mind seeing it come to an end.

LESLIE MACPHERSON ARTINIAN: Maybe this is the year that we'll go to at least a game and maybe a couple of games.

NICKISCH: Leslie Macpherson Artinian hasn't taken her family to a game for the past six years. At an average Fenway ticket price of more than $50, it's just been too expensive. She remembers going to games with her parents. She's been a fan ever since 1967, when she was seven years old and the Red Sox went to the World Series.

ARTINIAN: It's the background noise of my life. And I wish, you know, I wish we could go to more games just so it could be that way for my boys, too.

NICKISCH: This season her wish is coming true.

For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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