If there were a handbook instructing a Major League Baseball franchise on how to continue its improvements at the gate, reaching the World Series for the first time in franchise history would surely be at the top (or maybe second, behind winning the Series).
Third on the list might be minimizing ticket increases for the season following the World Series appearance, which is what the Texas Rangers are doing after winning the American League pennant for the first time ever this fall.
The Rangers, who lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games in the World Series, put 2011 season tickets on sale Friday, November 12 and announced that prices would increase by less than 5 percent. According to the Rangers’ Web site, season tickets will range from $4 per game for grandstand reserved seats to $105 for the Cuervo Club (prices have not yet been released for Home Plate Seats, the top seats at the Ballpark).
Rangers managing partner and CEO Chuck Greenberg told reporters that the bulk of the increase would be felt in premium seats and that some seats in more affordable areas would remain the same or even drop.
“We’re not trying to exploit the tidal wave of enthusiasm for the Rangers by dramatically increasing prices,” Greenberg said.
Texans displayed plenty of enthusiasm for the Rangers this season, when the franchise drew an average of 30,928 fans per game — an increase of 4,311 per game second-highest in the game and the biggest among teams playing in the same stadium as 2009. The Rangers welcomed 2,505,171 fans overall, the fifth-best total in the American League and their highest mark since 2005.
The Rangers’ moderate approach to ticket prices in 2011 is consistent with both their philosophies and those of their recent predecessors as World Series runners-up. One of the first things Greenberg and team president Nolan Ryan did upon taking over the team this summer — and ending more than a year of uncertainty in which the team was forced to declare bankruptcy — was cut the prices of hot dogs, beers, sodas and some parking.
The five previous teams to fall in the World Series all raised ticket prices by a mostly modest amount the next season. The 2009 NL champion Philadelphia Phillies raised the prices of most seats between $2 and $4 in 2010. The 2009 Tampa Bay Rays raised 70 percent of their seats by a dollar after winning their first AL pennant in 2008.
The Colorado Rockies’ average season ticket in 2008 rose 15 percent and the overall average price of a ticket rose $3 after they won their first pennant in 2007. The Detroit Tigers, which snapped a streak of 12 straight losing seasons by winning the 2006 AL pennant, raised the prices of tickets in five seating areas but held the line in the other 10 sections in 2007. And the Houston Astros, which won their first pennant ever in 2005, increased most tickets anywhere from $1 to $3 the following year.