Phillies Notes: Phillies say ticket sales still healthy despite end of sellout streak

Posted: August 09, 2012

John Weber's office overlooks the concourse he is in charge of filling to capacity. For 257 straight games at Citizens Bank Park, he could look out the windows knowing his ticket-sales staff had achieved a sellout crowd.

Like most, he knew it would eventually end.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Weber, the team's vice president for ticket sales and operations. "Our fans, they deserve all the credit in the world. It was a great thing. The good news is we're still drawing what we're drawing."

Thirteen major-league games were played Monday and none had a larger crowd than the paid attendance of 41,665 at Citizens Bank Park, which snapped the sellout streak. The Phillies still lead the majors in paid attendance, as they did in 2011.

The sellout streak is over, but ticket sales are quite healthy. Maintaining that, of course, will be crucial to the Phillies' ability to keep expanding payroll as they attempt to reload for contention in 2013.

More empty seats are visible this season, but attendance is counted as tickets sold. There have been more no-shows in addition to slightly smaller paid crowds.

With 26 home games remaining after Tuesday, Weber expects at least five to 10 more sellouts "for sure," with more possible. Friday's and Saturday's games against St. Louis will sell out. He guaranteed no game in 2012 will dip below 40,000 in paid attendance.

"We have tickets to sell," Weber said. "But all of them will be over 40,000, which is incredible."

The Phillies played their 55th home game Tuesday. Through 54 games, they were averaging 835 fewer fans per gate. Their average paid attendance of 44,605 exceeded the next closest, the Texas Rangers, at 43,416.

Weber believes that after 2012 the Phillies will have a nine-year average total paid attendance of 3.25 million since Citizens Bank Park opened.

"There are ups and downs in sports," Weber said. "But, for me, we have three things working for us: We have a beautiful ballpark, fantastic fans, and a team committed to winning. If you have those three factors going forward, I think we're in pretty good shape."

It's too early to project what the 2013 season-ticket base will be because renewal invoices have yet to be shipped, but Weber does not foresee a significant decline.

"Our fans are very smart," Weber said. "They understand what happened this year. They understand the ups and downs of the game."

Polanco not close

Placido Polanco was eligible to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday, but all indications are he is far from returning. Polanco has lower-back inflammation, which has sidelined him since July 22.

"He hasn't taken ground balls yet," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think once he starts taking ground balls, that'll be an indication that he's moving along."

In the meantime, Kevin Frandsen made his ninth straight start at third base. He spent the first 99 games of the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley. His emergence has stolen playing time from Ty Wigginton.

"He's done OK," Manuel said. "He's doing fine. He's held his own. I like him. He's been playing pretty good."

Extra bases

After one week away from Philadelphia, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were hitting a combined .170 (8 for 47) with four extra-base hits for their new team. . . . The Phillies did not strike out in Monday's 6-1 loss, marking only the fifth time in 2,052 games since 2000 that they accomplished that feat. The last time they did it was opening day in 2011 against Houston.

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