SEATTLE – The Mariners are struggling on the field and off.
The franchise acknowledges ticket sales are sluggish in the early going of the 2011 season. Last week, Safeco Field had its smallest crowds in history. The Mariners say it was no big surprise.
“Baseball, more than any other sport, draws by how well you did the year before," says M's Spokesperson Rebecca Hale.
The team has lost 101 games two of the last three seasons.
It’s been a hard fall for a proud franchise, which sold out 59 games in 2001, 38 in 2002 and 27 in 2003.
In 2008, 2009, and 2010, only one game was sold out.
“Dribbled down to extreme slow,” said hot dog vendor Joe Bernstein. He remembers the good old days at the beginning of the last decade.
“Were we spoiled or what?" he asked.
The Mariners have now scheduled all sorts of different discounts to try and fill seats, including ticket deals on weekday games. They just announced three “TicketPlus” nights which will offer $5 credits for concessions and other merchandise. That’s after they sold a Groupon for the first time to fill suite seats at six other games.
“We’ve been getting good response from that,” said Hale.
However, she concedes gas prices and the weather can impact sales as well.
“The wife just said it’s too cold to go to the game on Wednesday,” said Rich Hameister. He traded in his seats this week for another summer game. “When it’s windy, it’s cold in there.”
Bernstein says one incentive could really sell tickets.
“They gotta start hitting to get people to come out.”
The Mariners say they’ve set their budget on the assumption that 1.8 million fans will visit the Safe this season, which averages out to 22,222 fans a game.