The ownership of the Boston Red Sox just doesn’t get it. Yesterday John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner struck again when they announced that beer prices would be reduced to $5 from the normal price of $7.50-$8.50. For kids under 14 they will get a free hot dog, pack of goldfish and a carton of juice at specially designated concession stands until the 3rd inning. Around the park hot dogs will be buy one get one free.
So where is this new found sense of “generosity” coming from? It’s pretty basic economics: supply and demand. The Red Sox have one of the largest, most passionate fan bases around. They also have the smallest stadium in baseball. Thus tickets are at a premium as long as they are winning. The problems with ownership are endless. For starters they’re not really fans of the Red Sox; they’re fans of making money. Billionaire majority owner Henry purchased Rouch Fenway Racing Team in 2007 and Liverpool Football Club in 2010. Those purchases have made the Red Sox just the 3rd largest piece of his portfolio. So, while his attention had been focused almost exclusively on building a World Series Champion when he purchased the team in 2002, the Red Sox have become an afterthought in the last few years. He along with co-owners Lucchino and Werner took for granted the fact that people would keep coming to the games and paying the highest ticket prices in baseball.
The World Series rings in 2004 and 2007 were huge cash-cows for ownership. They made millions on merchandise while marketing the concept of a “Red Sox Nation”. They’ve never missed an opportunity to make an extra buck. They’ve added seats to every nook and cranny of the decrepit ballpark known as Fenway. They used their ownership of NESN to create a dating show called “Sox Appeal”, where a girl goes on three dates at the same game, but doesn’t actually watch any of the game. They sold millions of pink red sox hats, creating an entirely new category of fan. They’ve even started selling $300 bricks on the ground of concourse that you can get your name engraved on for people to spill their $5 beer all over. None of these decisions were done to improve the product on the field. They were done to increase their market by adding bandwagon fans, thus generating more revenue.
By far the biggest gripe I have with the team is the addition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” after the top of the 8th inning. Nothing encourages fair-weather pink hats to come out to the ballpark than this ridiculous melody. Time after time the “fans” have sung along with this terrible song while the Red Sox have been losing. Watching the pink hats sing this song while the Red Sox lost game after game during their epic collapse in 2011 made real fans want to puke. Up in their box, though, all Henry, Werner and Lucchino could hear is “ka-ching”.
This ploy may attract more fair-weather pink hats to Fenway in April so that they can preserve their fraudulent sellout streak. The lines will be “wicked” long and, of course, the people who stand in them will miss the first three innings of the game in order to get their free hot dog. However, it won’t convince me to go. The only way I’ll ever step foot in that park again is if they stop playing “Sweet Caroline” when the Red Sox are losing.
Aidan Kearney also writes for his own blog, aidanfromworcester.com. Follow him on Twitter @aidanfromworc