Phillies ticket sales down from last year

Posted: May 10, 2014

Off to a less-than-stellar start on the field, the Phillies are struggling even more at the box office.

As of their last home game - Tuesday's 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays - the Phils were league leaders in year-over-year attendance drop. After 15 home games, average attendance at Citizens Bank Park was 29,605 - a per-game plummet of 7,070, steepest in Major League Baseball.

It also represents an enormous loss of revenue. With the average Phillies ticket priced at $37.50, according to Team Marketing Report, 7,070 fewer fans means $265,125 less each game. Over 81 home games, that translates into more than $21 million.

If current numbers carry through the remainder of the season, it will be the second in a row that the Phils (15-17 going into last night's game) have seen their home attendance plunge. Last year, the team ended the season with an average home-game attendance of 37,194, down from 44,021 in 2012.

A bright spot here is that the Phillies still rank in the top half when it comes to the percentage of available seats filled each game. The team has a 67.4 percent home-attendance rate, which places it 11th of 30 in the major leagues. Still, that's a far cry from the remarkable streak of 257 home sellouts that ended in 2012.

Of course, the streak coincided with the team's five-year run (2007-2011) as National League East champions. Which was not lost on Phillies chief executive officer David Montgomery.

"It's amazing, isn't it, there is a correlation between winning and ticket sales," Montgomery said, tongue firmly in cheek. "I've picked that up after 40 years."

John Weber, the team's vice president for sales and ticket operations, acknowledged: "We have got some work to do."

"And we will continue to do it," he said. "We try every day to give everybody the best experience we can at the ball games."

Both Montgomery and Weber noted the decrease in season-ticket sales to about 18,000. Last year, 24,000 were sold. That decline - about 6,000 tickets - covers the bulk of the total per game retreat.

"Obviously, when your season-ticket number goes down, everything else could stay the same and you are still going down," Weber said. "Your season-ticket number is so important, especially in April and May, before schools let out."

And behind season-ticket sales is on-field performance. When the team was winning division championships from 2007 to 2011, it was easy to fill seats. The Phils averaged more than 40,000 fans a game 2008 through 2012. From 2007 through 2013, the team drew more than 3 million fans a season, with a record 3,777,322 in 2010.

Prior to that streak, the team broke 3 million just once - in 1993, when the team, still playing in Veterans Stadium, went to the World Series.

Talking about that magic 3 million-fan mark, Weber sounded a bit wistful.

"Comparing everything to 2010, 2011 and 2012, when there were 3.7 million, 3.6 million, those were just incredible numbers," he said. "To think, 'We are going to 3.4 million for 20 straight years,' well . . ."

Hope this year is to see in excess of 2.4 million, Weber said.

"We would love to have 2.7 million or 2.8 million," he said. "We would love that."


chepp@phillynews.com

215-854-2594

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