Angels see fewer fans, but revenue rises with higher ticket prices – Orange County Register

On Tuesday night, the Angels gave away a Kole Calhoun-themed visor to every fan who bought a ticket to their game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Giveaway games are typically a boon for ticket sales, and the promotional item was advertised heavily via the Angels’ television partner, Fox Sports West. The team made male workers throughout the park wear them.

Yet, more than a third of the stadium’s seats – roughly 16,000 tickets – went unsold.

The poor showing was not because the red-haired fuzz on top of the visor was undesirable. Through the first two months of this season, attendance at Angel Stadium is down significantly, every way you examine it.

Compared to this point last season, more than 4,300 fewer fans are purchasing tickets per night. Compared to their peak years in the middle of the past decade, it’s 8,000 fewer. This is not a league-wide problem; attendance is up across the major leagues, and only two teams have experienced bigger drops than the Angels: the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers.

The Angels have attracted more than 3 million fans every season since they won their first World Series in 2002. That streak is going to die an unceremonious death this season, barring a dramatic shift in purchasing behaviors across Orange County. Ticket sales through 28 games were down 11.3 percent compared to the same point a year ago.

Robert Alvarado, the team’s vice president of marketing and ticket sales, acknowledged that Tuesday’s low turnout was “a little surprising.” But he said the season-long attendance drop was anticipated. And Alvarado said even with the drop, revenue from ticket sales is up because of higher-priced tickets in most sections of the ballpark. Overall revenue from home games, including concessions, parking and everything else, is “holding,” he said. He declined to provide specific numbers.

“We’re not panicked,” he said. “We’re taking a different strategy this year. We’re getting a higher yield per ticket, selling less tickets, making a little bit more money than we did last year.

“The conventional wisdom would tell you, ‘Let’s get the bodies in here, because they’re still gonna be spending money on parking, hot dogs, souvenirs, all that stuff.’ But we have not seen that in the past. Drawing in a discount buyer, they aren’t necessarily flipping and buying stuff here.”

Put another way, the Angels are eschewing the cheap seats in favor of luxury sections. They are thinking less about fans who pay for $10 tickets than fans who make advance dinner reservations for the Diamond Club Restaurant.

Alvarado likes to use the term “per-caps,” shorthand for the average amount of revenue brought in by each fan each game. This season, he said, has proved to the franchise that the per-caps from the $10 ticket fans are lower.

“We may not be reaching as many of the people on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder, but those people, they may enjoy the game, but they pay less, and we’re not seeing the conversion on the per-caps,” Alvarado said. “In doing so, the ticket price that we’re offering those people, it’s not like I can segregate them, because I’m offering it up to the public, and I’m basically downselling everybody else in order to accommodate them.”

Ten-dollar tickets (plus a few bucks in fees) for Wednesday night’s game against the Rays were still available an hour before first pitch, so it’s not as though the cheap seats have been eliminated.

Alvarado cited several other reasons for the ticket-sales drop, among them the colder-than-normal weather throughout Southern California so far this season, smaller purchases from “silent business partners,” and the fact the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers have yet to visit Angel Stadium. Most years, the Angels play host to one of those teams in April or May, and they attract more ticket buyers.

A possible additional factor he did not cite is the public-relations struggles presented by owner Arte Moreno as the season neared. Moreno openly criticized Josh Hamilton, saying he was disappointed in the outfielder’s lack of accountability for his offseason drug relapse. It’s hard to say for certain that the negative public view of Moreno’s comments has harmed the team’s efforts to sell tickets, but it also seems unlikely that it hasn’t played any role at all.

And so Alvarado and his team of marketers continue on, hoping to reach that ballyhooed 3 million mark, perhaps knowing it’s unlikely if their current strategy doesn’t change.

“Will it be news if we don’t hit three million after 12 years?” Alvarado asked. “Yeah, it will. But it’s not the death of the Angels if the streak is broken.

“If we’ve got a playoff team and our revenues are there, who cares? We’ll move on.”

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