So the Washington Nationals just signed San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg to a record-setting contract worth $15.1 million over four years, and the team’s next financial move is to practically give away game tickets for $1 a pop.
Makes sense to me.
Actually, sarcasm aside, it really does. The Nationals rank 14th of 16 National League teams in attendance with a total of 1.38 million fans so far this year. That’s a 22 percent decline from last year’s total through 59 games.
The $1 promotion is for Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, which will be preceded by an on-field news conference with Strasburg, the team’s No. 1 overall draft pick, and a Q&A session with fans. The Nats are offering at least 2,000 tickets at the discount price, and the park will open a whopping five-plus hours before game time (1:30 p.m.)
One, let’s face it — it’s not as if the team was going to sell this game out. The seats will probably be the nosebleeds, which run about $10 at the gate, so we’re talking about taking a $9 hit on tickets that probably weren’t going to be sold anyway.
Two, that pregame news conference and the extra ballpark hours will more than make up for any loss the team may take on the discounted seats in the form of concessions sales, namely beer and souvenirs. Folks will file in early to get a good view of the conference and of Strasburg, and once you’re in the park you’re trapped. And hey, it’s Friday night — need I say more?
Now, it’s not like the team’s going to make so much money Friday night that its paying a ridiculously high amount for an unproven player will seem justified…but it’s a pretty smart promotional play by the team’s marketing department nonetheless.