The Blue Jays have played 53 games at home this season with an average of 40,123 ppl at each one. That makes them the most attended team not only in the AL East but for all of the American League!
A team that has achieved this while sitting in last place is truly awe inspiring and an impressive feat. The company that owns the Jays, Rogers Communications, decided that the best way to capitalize on this achievement is to increase season ticket prices, yet again, during the off season.
In July 2015, the Jays GM at the time, Alex Anthopoulos, made a number of strategic moves before the trade deadline including acquiring the rental of David Price, trading for Troy Tulowitzki and bringing over Ben Revere among others. As a result, Jay fans started coming out in droves to see their team go on and secure the AL East for the first time in years! They ended the season sitting in 8th place for the most attendance; a pretty significant accomplishment considering that the season before, in 2014 they, sat in 17th place where their average was under 30,000 ppl/game.
Fast forward to 2016; Jays once again have a stacked team. Bautista. Donaldson. Encarnacion. Fans young and old, quiet and loud, excited and anxious come out in droves to cheer them on and are rewarded. They finish the season with a walk off win against the Baltimore Orioles grabbing the Wild Card and sending the team to the playoffs for the 2nd time in 2 years. Canada and Jays Nation were behind their team and it showed – the average attendance per game in 2016 jumped to a crazy 41,880 people which put them in 3rd place in all of baseball, 1st in the American League!
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As of August 2nd, 2017, the Jays still held the highest record in attendance in the American League despite the fact they aren’t even at .500. Rogers decided to reward this achievement by announcing an increase in season ticket prices for the 2018 season – anywhere from 7 to 17%. This will be the fourth straight season prices have risen. I believe the increase for the last three seasons could be justified, albeit not necessarily convincingly, as to why prices were being raised such as supply and demand, the Jays were winning, keeping par with other stadiums and their costs, etc. But for it to happen four times in four years is completely unacceptable especially with the results we’ve been getting from our team.
When companies and not an individual own a sports team, it becomes less about winning and more about the bottom line aka the dollar. Yes, winning is great to the higher ups but that’s the bonus. What drives any company is revenue. Money. Dollars. Profit. Rogers is a business and needs to operate within the budget they set forth every year. However, announcing there will be an increase in the cost next season while giving us a team under .500 isn’t the right way to do it. How can Rogers justify the increase AGAIN when the Jays are a losing team? Do they not remember the dog days of summer back in the early 2000’s where attendance was under 25,000 per game? Do they want that to happen again? It’s scary to think that it might come to that.
Sports is an easy game to figure out – people want to see their home team win. Simple as that. You produce a winning team and people will spend their money to see it. Produce frustration, losses, blown saves and an increase in ticket prices, eventually, the pendulum will swing the other way and people will stop showing up.
The first or second time Rogers decided to increase ticket costs, it was understandable and I was okay with it; it’s to be expected especially with winning records and seasons. However, in this current situation, it is wrong and unjust for this conglomerate to take advantage of their position.
This should be the time for Rogers to thank us, the fans, for showing the Jays our support; for buying their not so great food at the Rogers Centre, for showing to stand in line 3 hours early to get a bobble head, for showing up to the games at all lately! Instead, the gratitude we get from them is another price hike coming our way next season. For a company that is number one in attendance yet sees their team in last place, this move is totally wrong on so many levels and Rogers shouldn’t be surprised if the attendance and revenue start dropping next season – especially if the team isn’t performing as best we had hoped.