Plummeting Ticket Prices

Ale Xander

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Oct 31, 2013
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This has nothing to do with (current) ticket prices or attendance, but they have to be terrified of the next generation. My son turns 12 in a couple weeks. I would bet that the only name he knows on the team is Devers. Now us SoSHers are a different breed than most, but that was a million percent not the case when most of us were 12. He and his friends don't wear Sox gear, I never hear them talking about the Sox. They're just not relevant.
That's why they're doing the $9 tickets. They're trying to get the next generation. But when those "fans" move out to jobs (because, wait for it, they can't afford the housing prices here) in other cities, what happens next?
 

8slim

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A couple thoughts...

1) This is a site predominantly visited by middle-aged and older, professional, child-having, dudes. So needless to say, there's a built-in life stage bias against schlepping to see a live sporting event due to the cost, inconvenience, travel times, etc.

2) It'd be utterly bizarre if there wasn't a ticket sales slump at Fenway right now. We're in year three of the team not being a title contender, while two other sports franchises in town who compete directly with the Sox in April/May have been enjoying tremendous success.

3) The attendance run from the late 90s through the early 2010s was a wild anomaly in the history of the franchise. I'm old enough to remember Fenway being literally half-empty for much of April and May back in the 80s and early 90s. And that was when the team was clearly the king of the region, even in down years.

4) If the team gets very good again there will be more demand. This isn't rocket science. Yes, there are generational issues with baseball fandom. But go to any game at Fenway and there are a TON of people under the age of 25 there. Attending a game is still a very popular activity for younger folks. Honestly, if you all have kids who don't like it that's really a parenting failure on your part. My kids loved live baseball from a very early age. ;)
 

TomRicardo

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You can get in Citi Field for $10 on a weeknight and the park is really nice.
Citi Field is a fantastic experience especially for a non baseball fan.

I just came back from San Francisco, and went out to Oakland. It was a half an hour from Union Sq in San Francisco, and was an awesome experience. They are insane to be leaving (though the city of Oakland is also insane to not let the owners develop the land in lieu of getting public funding to build the stadium).

The Red Sox are super expensive, even the Yankees are about 50% cheaper to get in the stadium on an average night. Outside of the charm of being an old stadium, Fenway isn't best place to see a game or wander around. Without the crowd being into the game or the team being particularly good, it is not the premium experience FSG charges for.
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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I almost never post on the main board because I've become disinterested in baseball. Even my long-term keeper league fell apart a few years back and I'd been playing in leagues since when we had to enter the daily points manually.

I am very interested in basketball (always have been) and soccer (my wife's passion, transferred to the household). But I used to also love baseball. And football.

Many of the reasons have been posted here. I'm older and busier. My kids don't care about baseball or football. My friends don't care about baseball or football.

For these two sports in particular, I wonder if there's something else. Maybe many of us Red Sox and Patriots fans just had it as good as we're going to have it (for me, Pedro/Ortiz/Ramirez; the Brady era) and that's what we'll always think of as the "good" times for these teams? Even 2018 was less interesting for me, though still cool.

I don't know that I'm ever going to feel connected to the Red Sox or Patriots teams in a way like I did during those highs, so I think that drives a lot of my waning interest.

This all said, I do think I'd have a great time if I were in Boston and would be grabbing some occasional seats just to be at Fenway. Especially with these lower secondary prices. But that would be nostalgia too.
 

Joe D Reid

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3) The attendance run from the late 90s through the early 2010s was a wild anomaly in the history of the franchise. I'm old enough to remember Fenway being literally half-empty for much of April and May back in the 80s and early 90s. And that was when the team was clearly the king of the region, even in down years.
In "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu", Updike gives the attendance at Ted Williams's last game at Fenway as 10,454.
 

bohous

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I think another piece to the low interest is people are not watching at home due to cable cutting and refusal to pay $30/mo for NESN360. I only watched a handful of games last year and zero so far this year. It pains my to say this but it has really effectively killed my interest in the team. Knowing that ticket prices are bottoming out maybe I'll try to catch a game this year because I still love Fenway and the experience of watching live baseball. Ultimately I think the real issue is the product and the lack of star talent. There isn't a single player I'm itching to see play.
 

tims4wins

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I almost never post on the main board because I've become disinterested in baseball. Even my long-term keeper league fell apart a few years back and I'd been playing in leagues since when we had to enter the daily points manually.

I am very interested in basketball (always have been) and soccer (my wife's passion, transferred to the household). But I used to also love baseball. And football.

Many of the reasons have been posted here. I'm older and busier. My kids don't care about baseball or football. My friends don't care about baseball or football.

For these two sports in particular, I wonder if there's something else. Maybe many of us Red Sox and Patriots fans just had it as good as we're going to have it (for me, Pedro/Ortiz/Ramirez; the Brady era) and that's what we'll always think of as the "good" times for these teams? Even 2018 was less interesting for me, though still cool.

I don't know that I'm ever going to feel connected to the Red Sox or Patriots teams in a way like I did during those highs, so I think that drives a lot of my waning interest.

This all said, I do think I'd have a great time if I were in Boston and would be grabbing some occasional seats just to be at Fenway. Especially with these lower secondary prices. But that would be nostalgia too.
100% true for me. Including 2018. I went to bed before the road games ended. Including the clincher.
I think another piece to the low interest is people are not watching at home due to cable cutting and refusal to pay $30/mo for NESN360. I only watched a handful of games last year and zero so far this year. It pains my to say this but it has really effectively killed my interest in the team. Knowing that ticket prices are bottoming out maybe I'll try to catch a game this year because I still love Fenway and the experience of watching live baseball. Ultimately I think the real issue is the product and the lack of star talent. There isn't a single player I'm itching to see play.
Absolutely a factor, at least in my house.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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My 16-year-old daughter surprised me the other day by asking to take her and her friend to Fenway. I was really happy to hear her ask to go to Fenway (her and my other daughter don't really love sports that much). It's Hello Kitty night and she wants the bobble head. I'm going to take them anyway and let them know that we're going to be there for the majority of the game. But man ...
 

Yo La Tengo

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3) The attendance run from the late 90s through the early 2010s was a wild anomaly in the history of the franchise. I'm old enough to remember Fenway being literally half-empty for much of April and May back in the 80s and early 90s. And that was when the team was clearly the king of the region, even in down years.

4) If the team gets very good again there will be more demand. This isn't rocket science. Yes, there are generational issues with baseball fandom. But go to any game at Fenway and there are a TON of people under the age of 25 there. Attending a game is still a very popular activity for younger folks. Honestly, if you all have kids who don't like it that's really a parenting failure on your part. My kids loved live baseball from a very early age. ;)
Two thumbs up for these points. Going to Fenway as a kid (in the early 80s) consisted of walking up to the window on the day of a game and buying good seats for relatively little money. We'd drive down from Maine on the weekend with zero worries about getting good seats.

As for baseball's popularity in general, attendance was up 10% last year and the World Series and NBA finals had nearly identical ratings. Nothing can compete with the NFL in our current sports moment, but baseball appears to be doing fine.
 

pk1627

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2) It'd be utterly bizarre if there wasn't a ticket sales slump at Fenway right now. We're in year three of the team not being a title contender, while two other sports franchises in town who compete directly with the Sox in April/May have been enjoying tremendous success.
This is hardly true. Celts have won a championship once in 40 years. Bruins once in 50. I like both teams, but you just know they’ll both be eliminated this year as well. They give us the Minnesota Twins experience


That being said, it doesn’t make any sense to be a STH this year. Some of the perks are great (I like the wining and dining), but the biggest - playoff tickets - is less probable than more. Buying individual games on the secondary market is far less expensive and you’re not locked into a schedule (even with the 20% ticket exchange).

I anticipate re-upping next year.
 

snowmanny

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This has nothing to do with (current) ticket prices or attendance, but they have to be terrified of the next generation. My son turns 12 in a couple weeks. I would bet that the only name he knows on the team is Devers. Now us SoSHers are a different breed than most, but that was a million percent not the case when most of us were 12. He and his friends don't wear Sox gear, I never hear them talking about the Sox. They're just not relevant.
Well I imagine they are terrified. And I know that when they are good interest will rise. But there does appear to be something going on with overall interest in the Red Sox, and I do wonder if the relative payroll drop reflects some awareness of this on the part of ownership.

This website lists opening day payrolls. https://www.stevetheump.com/Payrolls.htm#98_payroll

Here are the Red Sox rankings:

1998-2001: 7,6,6,2
2002-2006: 2,6,2,2,2
2007-2011: 2,4,4,2,3
2012-2016 :3,4,4,5,3
2017-2021: 3,1,1,3,3
2022-2024: 6.13, 12

It will be interesting to see how the team positions itself moving forward. I understand that TV ratings are well off their zenith but I can't find those numbers.

FYI I had the weekend STH plan from 1988-2022, but gave them up mostly because of the hassle of getting to the games. Age, living farther, other stuff to do, kids with no interest, etc.
 

dynomite

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Baseball is slowly dying. Fewer day games, more loud jumbotron, expensive beer, less fights, the passion is gone, same with Pats games. Kids don't watch it on tv Concessions and beer drip with greed.
“That interest in baseball is slowly dying is manifested by the dropping off of the crowds that go to the games. Is it that the season is too long? Is it the beginning of the end of the national game on the coast? If the latter, there is none to blame but the Owners of the parks and teams.”

Sorry, that’s not my take, that’s a sports writer. I’ll let you guess the year, but I’ll give you a hint: our leading HR hitter hit 6 big flies and our best starter (and best player, clearly) threw 31 complete games. And the team wasn’t even known as the Red Sox yet.

1905 in the Oakland Tribune per Sports Illustrated https://www.si.com/mlb/2019/08/29/baseball-is-dying-history

This is an interesting thread, but baseball’s not dying. https://www.nbcsports.com/mlb/news/baseball-is-dying-nonsense-the-case-for-baseballs-vitality
 

zenax

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Apr 12, 2023
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Something that needs to be taken into consideration when looking at attendance is how many people were able to attend. For example, the population of Boston and nearby areas has grown over the years. How many people from other New England states and fans of the visiting teams were able to attend games at Fenway in 1912? Would a person from, say, Manchester, NH, buy a ticket and ride his horse to Fenway and back? As time went on and cars became a general mode of travel; rail, bus, and airplane travel expanded, there was a larger percentage of fans able to go to games. In the early days, baseball wasn't competing with the NFL, NBA, NHL, whose seasons overlap one another more and more.

I don't think the percentage of people who like baseball is what it once was but the population has increased a lot since I first started following the game more than 70 years ago.
 

Tony Pena's Gas Cloud

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Jun 12, 2019
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Something else not brought up yet: The strategic placing and marketing of minor league teams. If my kids are into baseball and I live within 25 miles of Worcester, Manchester, or Portland, why schlep them all the way to Fenway? There isn't a bad seat at the minor league parks, they're super cheap, parking is cheap (or free) and very close to the game, and the atmosphere is geared towards kids with contests, prizes, entertainment, etc. With that as an alternative, why would I bring them to Fenway, where a) getting in and out of the area is a royal pain in the ass (either drive in and pay a fortune to park or argue with the shitty MBTA), b) 40% of the seats either face the wrong way or aren't built for 21st century bodies, and c) other than Wally jumping around and one tiny room made for toddlers, it's not a kid-friendly place. It's an easy choice for families.
 

Fishercat

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I think another piece to the low interest is people are not watching at home due to cable cutting and refusal to pay $30/mo for NESN360. I only watched a handful of games last year and zero so far this year. It pains my to say this but it has really effectively killed my interest in the team. Knowing that ticket prices are bottoming out maybe I'll try to catch a game this year because I still love Fenway and the experience of watching live baseball. Ultimately I think the real issue is the product and the lack of star talent. There isn't a single player I'm itching to see play.
I think this is a severely underrated and key factor to all of this. Twenty years ago most Sox fans likely had NESN in their house - I know I did and most people I knew had cable that had NESN included. We've been, functionally, a cord cut house for probably 7ish years now and while we pay for a lot of streaming services, we haven't been able to justify the premium cost for NESN360 given the poor reviews of the app quality. We have MLB.TV (free from T-Mobile and better half is a Cubbies fan), but that blacks out the Red Sox so we can only really watch Boston when they hit a different, national app. I'll do my best to follow after the fact but it's definitely a dampening factor to not see games day to day and rely on the third party direction for any team information.

I think others have gotten a lot of the other key points, I do have a few others I saw mentioned kinda but that I do think contribute to this

  • Competition for Entertainment Dollars: There was a chart earlier in the thread that detailed the pricing increase in Red Sox tickets and I thought...well that's cute. Because every other form of entertainment has spiked up dramatically more in that timeframe AND there's so many more choices. During the next Sox weekend homestand, you have concerts/shows at MGM Music Hall, Brighton Music Hall, The Boch Center, The Wilbur, The Sinclair, House of Blues, Big Night Live, Paradise, the Middle East, Sonia, Club Passim (Festival), Harvard Athletic Complex (Boston Calling Festival), and likely many others in Boston alone. A lot of people who don't live in Boston (more on that in a second) have a soft or hard cap on how many times in a year they'll be willing to go into the city, and the more competition you give, the harder it is to justify a bunch of Sox games. If I'm dropping $400 to go to Boston Calling or $200 to see Olivia Rodrigo or $100 to go to the MGM Music Hall, that's not Fenway money.
  • We're bigger. I went to Fenway last month and ponied up retail seat value to get seats that I, as a 6'4" person, could fit in. The last time I was there I was literally too tall for the seats and needed an ADA relocation (it was a comedy show). I hate to say it but I will put my dollars towards venues I am comfortable in. Fenway isn't that for most seats. Fenway is a minefield for taller and bigger people and the sheer hassle of going through hoops of getting to Fenway to get to seats that are deeply uncomfortable is enough of a turnoff.
  • The prime people who would normally buy these seats have moved out of Boston. There was discussion on this in other subforums, but Boston immigration information is really interesting - there is a major influx of college students and international students and workers...and a similarly large number of people 30-45 leaving. Those are the people with kids, those are the people who might have the disposable income to go to games. And those are the people who now have a much harder time getting to Fenway. This is true in a lot of cities but Boston, with the property price insanity, is a big part of it, that others cities aren't necessarily experiencing.
  • The "experience" is...specific. I recently went to Denver, and while the Rockies aren't there, Coors has its own little baseball museum in an artsy area in a drivable city with a ton of other stuff to do. To Ale's point Dodger Stadium is kind of isolated and terrible to get to, and I'd much rather deal with Fenway than Dodger Stadium. The Red Sox experience to me feels like it's designed for drunk twenty-somethings. Surrounded by sports bars, entertainment venues, and walking through kinda scummy (not dangerous scummy) and busy areas. I think it's a reason you see a lot of Patriot Place things, an all-day fun proposition is easier to swallow for the cost than 120 minutes of baseball.
  • As much as I like the pitch clock...it does shorten the games and that's less time to just enjoy Fenway.
 

Prodigal Sox

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Jul 15, 2005
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Many of the reasons have been posted here. I'm older and busier. My kids don't care about baseball or football. My friends don't care about baseball or football.

For these two sports in particular, I wonder if there's something else. Maybe many of us Red Sox and Patriots fans just had it as good as we're going to have it (for me, Pedro/Ortiz/Ramirez; the Brady era) and that's what we'll always think of as the "good" times for these teams? Even 2018 was less interesting for me, though still cool.
Had my son and nephews at the house over Christmas (mid 20's-30s) and they were following the Xmas NFL games purely because of fantasy and gambling. Had no real interest in rooting for a team. I think the NFL is really leaning into this approach. That's really the only thing keeping NFL interest as high as it is in the younger generations.
 
Oct 12, 2023
802
I think it really boils down to the idea that season tickets are generally very expensive (even with reduced prices) because of the number of games. The core demographic of STH is going to be people with both a burning passion to see a ton of games live every year and a lot of money they’re prepared to use for not just the ticket but all the associated costs of going to lots of games (travel, parking, concessions etc).

winning 4 World Series has IMO reduced the “need” to see the Sox 81 times (or even once) a year live. The height of Red Sox fever was fueled by “this could be the year” and the afterglow of that generation. Throw in a lack of “cant miss” players and the fact that the people with that combination of income/passion has either died off or gotten too old to make the trip often or, on the other side of the age band (the young professionals back in 2004 era), now have families/mortgages competing for their dollars and I have to think the pool of people with the means and desire to go to a game live is significantly diminished

And there’s all the other stuff too, lack of resale ability/value, perhaps less interest in younger fans, more competition for less overall entertainment spending in personal budgets. I’d also throw in the idea that more people (or the types of people who can afford to be STH) are working more hours and getting to the ballpark often by 7 is becoming harder to manage.

Most teams see significantly lower demand when the team isn’t consistently winning. The peak ticket sales from 15-20 years ago was fueled by a lot of circumstances that are gone forever. It takes an usually high and unsustainable interest in a team to get people to invest 3-5 hours including travel for 40-80 games a year, many times sitting through crappy weather or rushing to get there after work etc.
 

8slim

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This is hardly true. Celts have won a championship once in 40 years. Bruins once in 50. I like both teams, but you just know they’ll both be eliminated this year as well. They give us the Minnesota Twins experience


That being said, it doesn’t make any sense to be a STH this year. Some of the perks are great (I like the wining and dining), but the biggest - playoff tickets - is less probable than more. Buying individual games on the secondary market is far less expensive and you’re not locked into a schedule (even with the 20% ticket exchange).

I anticipate re-upping next year.
The bolded is utterly preposterous. The Cs have been in the playoffs 17 of the past 18 years. They've been to 8 Conference Finals in that time. Meanwhile the Bs have 15 playoff appearances in 17 years, including 3 Stanley Cup appearances.

These teams are going to sell out the Garden throughout April, May, and perhaps into June. To a sports fan who doesn't have unlimited time and money, that's a helluva better ticket than early season Sox baseball. Or do I need to invoke for the 1,000th time that the Roger Clemens 20K game in 1986 was played in front of 13K people while the Cs had a game cross town?
 

dynomite

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Most teams see significantly lower demand when the team isn’t consistently winning. The peak ticket sales from 15-20 years ago was fueled by a lot of circumstances that are gone forever. It takes an usually high and unsustainable interest in a team to get people to invest 3-5 hours including travel for 40-80 games a year, many times sitting through crappy weather or rushing to get there after work etc.
Again, there are a lot of interesting factors to discuss here, but ultimately I think this is the answer hiding in plain sight. People attend Red Sox games when the team is good (especially when they're breaking 86-year title droughts, winning World Series, and filled with generational stars), and not so much when the team is bad. It was ever thus per the attendance totals in the BRef franchise encyclopedia: https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/

If anything, without a deeper dive (the enlarged Fenway stadium, etc.) that data shows that interest in the Sox is more sustained now than it used to be. Consider:

- In 2022 and 2023 the team trotted out rosters filled with guys that most people in New England could sit next to on a bus and not recognize, finished dead last in the AL East both years... and still had an attendance of 2.6 million fans in both seasons.

- In 1987 (when the Sox had made the World Series the prior year, obviously) and only drew 2.2 million. In April & May of that season you can find a number of games where Fenway attendance was under 20,000. To @8slim 's point, look at Tuesday, May 5, 1987. Only 16,000 fans turned out to see Bruce Hurst outduel Dave Stewart and the A's (in fact, a complete game, 14 K shutout). Was baseball dying? Well, it was Tuesday in early May, and across town that night the Celtics beat the Bucks (with Larry dropping 40) to win the 1st game of their 2nd round playoff series: https://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/198705050BOS.html

And again, to @8slim 's point, here's Don Baylor dropping a popup during Clemens' 20K game in '86 (which is on youtube). Just look at the bleachers.



- Then go back and look at the attendance totals from the 1950s and 60s, back in the halcyon days when baseball was king. Here's a game from 1962 boston.com says was played in front of 2,644 fans, which would mean it was the 2nd game of the season per BRef, a 12 inning win against Cleveland (Bill Monbouquette pitched a 12 inning shutout for the win: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS196204110.shtml):



I also resonate with this section from one of many good articles about how the idea that "baseball is dying" is a sawhorse that has been around since the late 19th century. https://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-dead-ball-century-mlb-baseball-playoffs-john-thorn-mlb-historian-baseball-decline-articles/

Baseball’s repeated death throes, Thorn argued, are symptoms of its own innate nostalgia. Pete O’Brien thought baseball’s true glories lay in an unreachable past. We modern fans do, too. “I think it’s this Garden of Eden thing,” Thorn said. “Things are not as they used to be. It is a solace that lies behind the church, as well. The precepts of the good book are largely in decline today, but once upon a time …
 
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Max Power

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Nobody is sitting behind the plate there. They'd rather have a clear view of the field and take the chances of having to avoid a foul ball. The view you get of a ballgame in person was hurt when they put up nets all the way down the lines. Players are throwing and swinging harder than ever, so it was probably necessary, but it detracted from the experience.
 

8slim

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Something else not brought up yet: The strategic placing and marketing of minor league teams. If my kids are into baseball and I live within 25 miles of Worcester, Manchester, or Portland, why schlep them all the way to Fenway? There isn't a bad seat at the minor league parks, they're super cheap, parking is cheap (or free) and very close to the game, and the atmosphere is geared towards kids with contests, prizes, entertainment, etc. With that as an alternative, why would I bring them to Fenway, where a) getting in and out of the area is a royal pain in the ass (either drive in and pay a fortune to park or argue with the shitty MBTA), b) 40% of the seats either face the wrong way or aren't built for 21st century bodies, and c) other than Wally jumping around and one tiny room made for toddlers, it's not a kid-friendly place. It's an easy choice for families.
This is a good point. When I was a kid in the 80s I attended a TON more PawSox games than I did games at Fenway. Part of that was convenience (my father lived in North Attleboro) and part was cost. Being able to see the stars of tomorrow within a 20 minute drive, with good seats and free parking, was really awesome. Those issues are even more acute these days.

Hell, these days when I visit my father in Lakeland, FL, we typically catch a Lakeland Tigers game. The thought of making the hideous schlep to St. Pete doesn't cross our minds.

Of course my father grew up in Newton and saw a ton of losing baseball at Fenway pre-1967. He always says that in those days it was him, his buddies and a couple thousand nuns at most games.
 
Mar 30, 2023
216
3) The attendance run from the late 90s through the early 2010s was a wild anomaly in the history of the franchise. I'm old enough to remember Fenway being literally half-empty for much of April and May back in the 80s and early 90s. And that was when the team was clearly the king of the region, even in down years.
It actually wasn't really that much of anomaly -- not if you look at their attendance relative to the rest of baseball. From 1967 through 1978, the Sox finished first or second in AL attendance every single year. They weren't selling out like they did in the 2000s -- because no one in baseball was selling out in that era -- but that's arguably a more impressive run than the sellout streak.

There was a little dip in the early 80s, but then, from 1986 until today, the Sox have almost always finished between 3rd and 5th in AL attendance, despite the small ballpark and high prices. Essentially, the Red Sox have been the best-supported team in MLB since 1967.
 

Spelunker

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I think this is a severely underrated and key factor to all of this. Twenty years ago most Sox fans likely had NESN in their house - I know I did and most people I knew had cable that had NESN included. We've been, functionally, a cord cut house for probably 7ish years now and while we pay for a lot of streaming services, we haven't been able to justify the premium cost for NESN360 given the poor reviews of the app quality. We have MLB.TV (free from T-Mobile and better half is a Cubbies fan), but that blacks out the Red Sox so we can only really watch Boston when they hit a different, national app. I'll do my best to follow after the fact but it's definitely a dampening factor to not see games day to day and rely on the third party direction for any team information.
Having baseball on in the background is what breeds fandom, and that's become really hard. I watched more Sox when I lived in Seattle, because at least then MLB.tv worked and wasn't blacked out. Now that I'm back in Boston I haven't seen a single game on TV- other than in bars- because I don't have cable and NESN's app is a piece of shit at any cost, let alone being that high.

Baseball is really fucked from a generational standpoint.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Having baseball on in the background is what breeds fandom, and that's become really hard. I watched more Sox when I lived in Seattle, because at least then MLB.tv worked and wasn't blacked out. Now that I'm back in Boston I haven't seen a single game on TV- other than in bars- because I don't have cable and NESN's app is a piece of shit at any cost, let alone being that high.

Baseball is really fucked from a generational standpoint.
I think it’s become harder in a world where everyone in the family has their owned personalize device with their own content, and never has to be exposed to anything that anyone else in the family is consuming. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but how is a kid going to develop into a baseball fan in 2024, when there are lots of other things to do? It’s not like when I was a kid and we had one TV and if the person controlling the set (almost said remote but we didn’t even have one until I was a teen!) was watching baseball, everyone was. Unless you wanted to go read a book or something.
 

Spelunker

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I think it’s become harder in a world where everyone in the family has their owned personalize device with their own content, and never has to be exposed to anything that anyone else in the family is consuming. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but how is a kid going to develop into a baseball fan in 2024, when there are lots of other things to do? It’s not like when I was a kid and we had one TV and if the person controlling the set (almost said remote but we didn’t even have one until I was a teen!) was watching baseball, everyone was. Unless you wanted to go read a book or something.
The thing is baseball is kinda perfect for second screening. That kid that is messing around on their phone could still be taking in baseball via osmosis via the main TV. It's not a game that demands- or is terribly suited for, at least in the regular reason- riveted eyeballs.
 

Fishercat

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Having baseball on in the background is what breeds fandom, and that's become really hard. I watched more Sox when I lived in Seattle, because at least then MLB.tv worked and wasn't blacked out. Now that I'm back in Boston I haven't seen a single game on TV- other than in bars- because I don't have cable and NESN's app is a piece of shit at any cost, let alone being that high.

Baseball is really fucked from a generational standpoint.
That actually brings up the radio point as well. Given the advent of Spotify, the reduction of importance on radio in general, and people spending less time in their cars, that's another avenue that people followed the team (both sports radio and live broadcasts) where people are less likely to go to any more. I don't remember the last time I hit "AM" on the radio dial and 98.5/93.7 aren't on my pre-sets, and most of the time I'll boot up Spotify on my phone. I don't have a radio in my house that's not my phone. To Petagine's point it's only compounded in that everyone can have their own media devices now, but it's just not nearly as much of a "default" option as it used to be.

And if you need a VPN to get to something you're never gonna get the fans you need to support the product. There's a reason the WWE is going to Netflix and the NFL is divvying games out to national streamers. The easier you make it to access media the more people will watch it.
 

dynomite

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Nobody is sitting behind the plate there. They'd rather have a clear view of the field and take the chances of having to avoid a foul ball. The view you get of a ballgame in person was hurt when they put up nets all the way down the lines. Players are throwing and swinging harder than ever, so it was probably necessary, but it detracted from the experience.
That's an interesting point! You definitely seem to be onto something there.

I think the final straw for the screens down the lines was the increasing ubiquity of cell phones. Flying baseballs were already dangerous when people were mostly paying attention, but when people's heads are buried in their laps half the time, forget about it.

I also remember a lot of players were horrified when a toddler had to be hospitalized in 2017 because of a ball off the bat at Yankee Stadium and said they wouldn't let their families sit outside protective netting.

Baseball is really fucked from a generational standpoint.
I'm sorry to keep posting these, and who knows, maybe you're right and I'm just Pollyanna here. But people have been saying this for literally more than a century.

An executive of a famous soft-drink company, when considering star athletes for a sports panel, skipped baseball. "No one gives a damn about baseball anymore," he said.

[A sports editor] remarked after watching a spring training game: "Now I know why old people like baseball," he said. "It's a sanctuary for the listless. The game is too slow. It's out of step with the modern pace."

For too many years, people in baseball walked in circles with their collective heads in the sand, refusing to admit their game needed help, that it was no longer the only game in town, that the game which was so great for the mechanical age may no longer be suited... to the electronic age. ...

... television 'has killed baseball and advanced football and soccer.'
Florence Times, April 5, 1969

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1842&dat=19690403&id=HiEsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=450FAAAAIBAJ&pg=825,594967

And like, sure, baseball is different and football and soccer do draw huge ratings. But as we type on a message board about the Red Sox, we're writing about a sport that sold 70 million tickets in 2023, the highest total since 2017. And that's not even counting the minor leagues, college baseball, softball, etc.
 
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John Marzano Olympic Hero

has fancy plans, and pants to match
Dope
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Apr 12, 2001
24,986
I think it’s become harder in a world where everyone in the family has their owned personalize device with their own content, and never has to be exposed to anything that anyone else in the family is consuming. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but how is a kid going to develop into a baseball fan in 2024, when there are lots of other things to do? It’s not like when I was a kid and we had one TV and if the person controlling the set (almost said remote but we didn’t even have one until I was a teen!) was watching baseball, everyone was. Unless you wanted to go read a book or something.
I may be an old man, but I swear I'm not screaming at clouds. From what I've observed, kids are sports specialized now. It's no longer football in the fall, basketball or hockey in the winter, baseball in the spring and soccer int the summer. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For the most part you find one sport that you really like in second or third grade and that's what you stick with until high school. Personally, I think that's insane for a number of reasons; but my kids don't play sports so I don't care what their friends do. The point is, if you pick baseball, you're going to be a baseball fan. If you pick soccer, you're going to watch soccer. Same with the other sports, except for football. I don't think anyone plays football year round (at least in Mass they don't) and the NFL is so gigantic, I think that everyone is a fan. But there are a ton of baseball kids.

Even if I'm wildly wrong about the above, the first exposure to sports for kids are usually soccer or t-ball. Those sports tend to take root in a person even if you're not a fan in junior high and high school, baseball fandom starts flowering in a person's 20s and 30s. When you can go to Fenway, have a couple of beers and talk to the opposite sex. Or you're playing softball and going out for drinks after. It's probably the most social (and at one time the most affordable) sport ever, because you don't have to watch every single pitch. You can. But you don't have to.

Assuming nothing weird happens with this generation (and I doubt it will) baseball will be fine.

EDIT: the only thing that hurts MLB are the owners who put immediate profit over building any sort of fanbase. They're doing a great job at making sure that baseball gets its teeth kicked in (blackout, removing 1/3 of the minor leagues, etc) but the sport is resilient. While greed is strong, my hope is that baseball is stronger.
 

luckiestman

Son of the Harpy
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Jul 15, 2005
33,448
Nobody is sitting behind the plate there. They'd rather have a clear view of the field and take the chances of having to avoid a foul ball. The view you get of a ballgame in person was hurt when they put up nets all the way down the lines. Players are throwing and swinging harder than ever, so it was probably necessary, but it detracted from the experience.
I don’t know if it is hurting attendance but I agree that that nets absolutely suck.
 

JOBU

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Sep 22, 2021
9,175
I don’t think the nets are hurting attendance. I don’t really care for them personally but in my experience they have minimal effect of the viewing experience for 99.9% of the fans. I thought they would piss me off a lot more but I basically forget it’s there after a few minutes.
 

biollante

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While greed is strong, my hope is that baseball is stronger.
This is my hope too.
I worry when none of my adult kids really make no effort to go to Sox games, but Boston has plenty of people to attend so maybe I shouldn't worry.

My kids do manage to go to the Hartford USL games (with cheaper tix, food and beer) so maybe there is sports saturation with all the options.

I have a 10 man plan and when I have to give tix away some people don't want them due to travel expenses (driving from CT), parking, food and beer. They go once and can't believe how expensive going to a game really is. I do have a couple frequent flyers though who will go on a moments notice.

Baseball on the radio is great (with Joe Castiglione) but the other guy is terrible, criminally terrible.

This is all a good discussion but it reminds me why food in Italy is so much better than here: Italians wouldn't put up with anything else.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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21,589
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I don’t think the nets are hurting attendance. I don’t really care for them personally but in my experience they have minimal effect of the viewing experience for 99.9% of the fans. I thought they would piss me off a lot more but I basically forget it’s there after a few minutes.
I haven't experienced the nets at Fenway but if they're anything like the nets at minor league parks like Hadlock Field, they're barely a hindrance at all. In fact, I'd say they make the game slightly more enjoyable if you have kids with you. I hadn't ever considered the stress of kids being in a section where line drive foul balls could be a danger until I took my nieces to a game a couple weeks ago (box seats on the third base side just past the dugout). The nets certainly took a small load off my mind.
 

dynomite

Member
SoSH Member
I don’t think the nets are hurting attendance. I don’t really care for them personally but in my experience they have minimal effect of the viewing experience for 99.9% of the fans. I thought they would piss me off a lot more but I basically forget it’s there after a few minutes.
I didn't take Max to be saying the nets were hurting attendance, just pointing out that in 1962 when given the choice people weren't sitting directly behind home and the net, but instead an unobstructed view. I found that interesting.

Another explanation, like now, could be that even in 1962 those seats were the most exclusive and expensive and the section was guarded by ushers. Genuinely don't know how long that has been the case.

Speaking of which, I continue to think it makes baseball look bad to have massively expensive empty seats right behind home plate on broadcasts at new Yankee Stadium and elsewhere. Serves the Yankees right for building a shopping mall with a baseball field in the middle of it.

 

Devizier

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I think there’s an element of premium ticketing at play here. This isn’t just a baseball thing but across all sports. When once you could score gameday tickets for low prices and little planning, now the tickets a fairly expensive, even accounting for inflation. That is true across a lot of cities. It seems like sports went the way of live concerts where they want to get top dollar for the high demand tickets and rely on secondary markets to backfill the rest. I’m sure it’s very profitable, and they can still fill stadiums because those markets are efficient.

As with others here, I hardly go to games at all anymore. But that’s because of my kids, more than anything else. They don’t love the games and they are scheduled up the wazoo anyways.
 

loneredseat

New Member
Dec 8, 2023
97
My 16-year-old daughter surprised me the other day by asking to take her and her friend to Fenway. I was really happy to hear her ask to go to Fenway (her and my other daughter don't really love sports that much). It's Hello Kitty night and she wants the bobble head. I'm going to take them anyway and let them know that we're going to be there for the majority of the game. But man ...
Hello Kitty Night? Seriously?? WHEN??? ;)
I'm in my 50's, live a couple hours away, and usually get to a game or two a season. In my high school and college years it was a lot more.
Things fell off for me when I had kids and even without buying the beer it became expensive. That, and the game can be long and a little slow for a kid. My son gravitated toward basketball, which, for a kid, is constant action as opposed to moments of action. While I can never get enough baseball and I can only watch so much basketball, I can understand this perspective.
I think lovers of the sport should be concerned about the next generation. I teach in a high school and there is not a lot of interest in MLB. Some kids here and there, but on the whole not so much.
I'm not sure what the answer is. When you look at a box score and see that most innings are goose eggs... Like I said I can watch baseball all day but I can see how this can be unappealing to the next (entertain me now) generation.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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The "slow" issue was becoming a real one for us. 2 1/2 -3 hours? Sure. 3 1/2 to 3 3/4? Ugh. But since they've added the pitch clock, we've been to 8-10 games and none have gone beyond 2 3/4 hours. They've almost overcompensated as far as we are concerned, but it is definitely better.
 

dynomite

Member
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Things fell off for me when I had kids and even without buying the beer it became expensive. That, and the game can be long and a little slow for a kid. My son gravitated toward basketball, which, for a kid, is constant action as opposed to moments of action. While I can never get enough baseball and I can only watch so much basketball, I can understand this perspective.
I think lovers of the sport should be concerned about the next generation. I teach in a high school and there is not a lot of interest in MLB. Some kids here and there, but on the whole not so much.
"Today, few boys hike six miles to school. Motor cars, elevators and telephones have softened many of our embryo Ty Cobbs…Baseball is dying in our high schools. It is losing ground in our colleges to high-pressure football."

New York Daily News, 1939

"If baseball is dying out, as many claim, it may be because the game has slowed down to a snail’s pace in recent years. Right or wrong, moderns are restless, fidgety and always in a hurry, extremely impatient with delay. And the average baseball game of today is characterized by delay, from start to finish."

Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 1955

"More young fans are seeking the instant gratification provided by the dunk-a-minute pace of pro basketball, the search-and-destroy machismo of pro football."

St. Louis Post Dispatch, 1992

All of these available here: https://www.si.com/mlb/2019/08/29/baseball-is-dying-history

I'm not saying you're wrong here, @loneredseat. Maybe this time the "baseball is dying" takes will be right. But I think baseball will be just fine.

I'm sorry to keep posting these ancient stories. I just love baseball, and I know all of us in here do too (or at least used to). And if anything, I hope this gives some of us permission to just enjoy baseball's present without worrying so much about its future, and perhaps give us permission to share that love with younger folks without unnecessary caveats ("I know it seems boring, but...").

Edit: Personally, I think baseball is incredible right now, even if its best brand isn't being played in Boston every night and (like the rest of us) I have issues here and there (umpire strike zones, ticket cost, etc.).

The best player in the game right now is by some measures the best player in MLB history, a Japanese Babe Ruth who hits 40 HR, steals 20 bases, and (when healthy) throws upper 90s as the staff ace. With the rule changes we saw the most stolen bases in a season since 1987. Last year we saw the first 40 HR, 70 SB season in MLB history, and this year there's a 6'5" shortstop in Cincinnati on pace to hit ~40 HR and steal 90+ bases. The best pitching prospect in baseball just came up in Pittsburgh and threw 17 pitches at 100 mph or faster... joining his fellow Pittsburgh prospect who also throws 98-100 mph. Complaints about the cost and blackouts aside, you can now watch (almost) any broadcast of (almost) any MLB game on your phone (almost) anywhere. There's a remarkable amount of parity across the league, as teams like the Orioles and Mariners and Royals and others contend while longtime powerhouses (Cardinals) struggle. Attendance at MLB games was up almost 10% last year. And the league continues to be restocked every offseason not just with HS and college kids, but with enormously talented Japanese, Korean, Dominican, Cuban, etc. players.

Again, who knows? Maybe it won't continue. But I'm enjoying the hell of out this era of baseball. I just wish Casas and Story were healthy for it.
 
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MikeM

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May 27, 2010
3,165
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But I think baseball will be just fine.
So basically what you seem to keep pointing out is that as long as the total amount of tickets being sold and/or redistributed looks good on paper then the actual sport of baseball itself is doing fine.

So no apparent concerns for the long term sustainability of that product model when the underlying investment interest at the fan level in the said product, as more then a social gathering vehicle, seems to be on the steady decline?
 

zenax

Member
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Apr 12, 2023
428
Does anyone know what percentage of tickets are sold to fans as opposed to ones sold to businesses who can use them as tax write-offs?
 

mikcou

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May 13, 2007
936
Boston
Does anyone know what percentage of tickets are sold to fans as opposed to ones sold to businesses who can use them as tax write-offs?
Entertainment expenses haven’t been deductible in 5+ years. The only exception would be a corporate party of some such, which a business certainly isn’t buying significant volume for.
 

Traut

lost his degree
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The Red Sox face, to a far lesser degree, a similar problem the Hartford Whalers faced in the late 1980s and early 1990s

The Whalers weren’t very good. They were lovable and had a loyal fan base but nothing to expand their reach beyond that.

To make matters worse ticket prices were high.

And to make matters even worse none of their games were on cable or regular TV. You had to pay like $20 a month to get the Sports Channel which no one but die hard fans did.

Growing up in the Hartford area we got Bruins games on Friday nights.

It is very hard to build and nurture a fan base with a bad team, expensive tickets, and a premium TV subscription.

We haven’t had NESN, aside from a one month free trial, since they left YouTube TV.

And for my 11yo son other forms of entertainment and other teams gain traction with him.

Not that the Sox will end up in Raleigh or anything but it creates a downward spiral that becomes hard to break.
 
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Montana Fan

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Looks like a pretty paltry turnout by the vaunted St. Louis Cardinal fan base today. Day game, beautiful wether and the BoSox in town. Both teams are below .500 but clearly the fans are spending their entertainment dollars elsewhere.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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Apr 7, 2006
6,938
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All anecdotal, but...

I live in Nashua. 30 years ago we had 5 different Bambino (now Cal Ripken) leagues and a Little League in the city. Each part of town had its own league, with multiple levels and teams. Now the city has one league. There are 5 teams total in the 11-12 age group. Babe Ruth has shrunk from 20 teams to 4, and that's only because we opened up to some surrounding towns that couldn't put a single team together.

My son is a Freshman at a high school with 1700 kids. They couldn't field a Freshman team this year because only 7(!) Freshmen tried out. The program had no cuts and his JV team has 3 players on the team that have never played before at all.

As a coach, I never hear the kids talking about the Red Sox. Not ever. My son doesn't watch the games. I asked him how many current players he could name and he could only come up with Devers.

Now, he still likes going to Fenway for the experience, but him and his friends don't give a single shit about the Red Sox. That's from a sample of baseball players, I can't imagine it gets better with non-players.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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Sep 12, 2003
14,919
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All anecdotal, but...

I live in Nashua. 30 years ago we had 5 different Bambino (now Cal Ripken) leagues and a Little League in the city. Each part of town had its own league, with multiple levels and teams. Now the city has one league. There are 5 teams total in the 11-12 age group. Babe Ruth has shrunk from 20 teams to 4, and that's only because we opened up to some surrounding towns that couldn't put a single team together.

My son is a Freshman at a high school with 1700 kids. They couldn't field a Freshman team this year because only 7(!) Freshmen tried out. The program had no cuts and his JV team has 3 players on the team that have never played before at all.

As a coach, I never hear the kids talking about the Red Sox. Not ever. My son doesn't watch the games. I asked him how many current players he could name and he could only come up with Devers.

Now, he still likes going to Fenway for the experience, but him and his friends don't give a single shit about the Red Sox. That's from a sample of baseball players, I can't imagine it gets better with non-players.
This made me look up my hometown leagues (Framingham). When I played, Little League (T-Ball, Peanuts, AA, AAA, Majors), by the time we were in Majors (10-12 year olds?) we had an American and National League. 16 teams total. In Babe Ruth, at 13-14 year olds (I think) 12-ish teams.
Just looked it up, AAA has 6 teams and Babe Ruth has 4.
 

radsoxfan

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Aug 9, 2009
14,174
We have had tickets in our family since 1955. I think this is my last year. The seats are incredible, but the prices are killing me. We go 2-3 times a year maybe 5 if the team is good. My kids don't care much (my son is also 12). It pains me to give them up, but the current prices are unsustainable.
Don't stress. You can get any incredible seat you want to as many (or more) games next year for less $ than you are paying now.

No one is losing anything by giving up their season seats, unless they REALLY like sitting in the exact same seat for every game they attend.
 

zenax

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Apr 12, 2023
428
Entertainment expenses haven’t been deductible in 5+ years. The only exception would be a corporate party of some such, which a business certainly isn’t buying significant volume for.
Didn't know that was no longer a way for businesses to reduce taxes. In the the first game I went to, I was seated in a company's seats. But that was a long time ago.
 

sezwho

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Jul 20, 2005
2,133
Isle of Plum
The Red Sox face, to a far lesser degree, a similar problem the Hartford Whalers faced in the late 1980s and early 1990s

The Whalers weren’t very good. They were lovable and had a loyal fan base but nothing to expand their reach beyond that.

To make matters worse ticket prices were high.

And to make matters even worse none of their games were on cable or regular TV. You had to pay like $20 a month to get the Sports Channel which no one but die hard fans did.

Growing up in the Hartford area we got Bruins games on Friday nights.

It is very hard to build and nurture a fan base with a bad team, expensive tickets, and a premium TV subscription.

We haven’t had NESN, aside from a one month free trial, since they left YouTube TV.

And for my 11yo son other forms of entertainment and other teams gain traction with him.

Not that the Sox will end up in Raleigh or anything but it creates a downward spiral that becomes hard to break.
This all sounds right to me. Witness attendance going up substantially for MLB last year while the Sox went down even as ‘the tide was rising all boats’ so to speak. Baseball may face challenges long-term as every media does (I remember Napster as existential threat to the music business), but this isn’t that.

This is tone deaf ownership transforming to a payroll structure that could support above average performance cheaply and sustainably. They are also cutting investment substantially while doing so, so it kind of feels like being peed on and told it’s raining. This is having the impact it should when applied year on year.
 

8slim

has trust issues
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Nov 6, 2001
26,011
Unreal America
The Red Sox face, to a far lesser degree, a similar problem the Hartford Whalers faced in the late 1980s and early 1990s

The Whalers weren’t very good. They were lovable and had a loyal fan base but nothing to expand their reach beyond that.

To make matters worse ticket prices were high.

And to make matters even worse none of their games were on cable or regular TV. You had to pay like $20 a month to get the Sports Channel which no one but die hard fans did.

Growing up in the Hartford area we got Bruins games on Friday nights.

It is very hard to build and nurture a fan base with a bad team, expensive tickets, and a premium TV subscription.

We haven’t had NESN, aside from a one month free trial, since they left YouTube TV.

And for my 11yo son other forms of entertainment and other teams gain traction with him.

Not that the Sox will end up in Raleigh or anything but it creates a downward spiral that becomes hard to break.
To be fairrrr, the lack of NESN is your choice. It’s on DirecTV Stream and Fubo, along with the usual cable/telco suspects. It’s not entirely like SportsChannel.

And back in the 90s when the Sox abandoned over the air TV, cable penetration was about the same as it is right now (granted, it’s on different trajectory these days). That level of availability didn’t torpedo the future fan base.

Of course I totally agree that younger people have a billion more entertainment options today than we did. That’s harmed baseball far more than the NFL and NBA.

That aside, how in the hell didnt the Whalers have a TV deal? They couldn’t get games on a local UHF station?! Man, that’s negligent management right there.