A lot has changed in Major League Baseball since 2003, but one thing has remained constant: Capacity crowds at Boston’s Fenway Park, where the Red Sox have played in front an MLB-record 631 straight sellouts.
The Sox missed the playoffs this season for just the second time during the streak, and while their run of consecutive sellouts doesn’t appear to be in danger, the shaky economy presents a challenge that didn’t exist the last time the Sox finished in third place in the AL East in 2006.
With that in mind, the Sox announced this week that ticket prices to about 70 percent of the seats at Fenway Park would remain unchanged for 2011. The only price increases will be for seats in three prime areas of the infield. Field Box seats rise from $130 to $135, Loge Box seats rise from $95 to $99 and Infield Grandstand seats rise from $52 to $55.
“They chose to raise prices on the sections in the infield, which quite honestly is totally fair, because, for example, a field box seat all the way down the line was the same price as one on the on-deck circle,” Jim Holzman, president of the Red Sox’ Boston-based secondary ticket partner Ace Ticket, told TicketNews. “If I’m sitting behind the Red Sox dugout [as opposed to] four sections over, I’d rather pay $3 more and be in a better section.”
Overall, the average ticket price rises by about two percent, the second-smallest increase in the last 16 years. All ticket prices were frozen for the 2009 season.
Holzman said the small increase for 2011 was good business by the Red Sox and a savvy way to not only reward a fan base that came out in droves despite the Sox spending most of the summer on the fringes of the playoff race but to also whet their appetites for this winter. The Sox are expected to make a splash in the free agent market by either re-signing stars Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre or by pursuing the likes of outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth and pitcher Cliff Lee.
“It was a very small, modest [increase] and I think it’s an appropriate one,” Holzman said. “We have to compete with the Yankees, so as long as the team spends money bringing in players, fans will respond positively.
“Unfortunately, they were out of the race earlier than they wanted. You had their two best players, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia, on the shelf and Jacoby Ellsbury, a young stud, on the shelf too. Injuries just plagued the team…so we’ll see what happens with some of the free agents. I think you’ll see the Red Sox be very competitive and back in the playoffs where they belong.”
The cheapest entry to Fenway Park remains an upper bleachers ticket, priced at $12, while a Green Monster seat ticket is still the priciest ducat at $165. According to the Sox, 63 percent of tickets at Fenway will be $55 or less.