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Angels ticket sales czar resigns amid controversial attendance comments

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The VP of marketing and ticket sales recently put the front office in hot water for admitting they were eschewing the cheap seat fans for the Diamond Club clientele. Does his resignation herald a change in attitude, or was this just corporate collateral damage?

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If you remember this story from two weeks ago, then you'll know Robert Alvarado as the Angels executive who managed to rub a  large swath of the fanbase the wrong way with just a simple interview about declining attendance. He stressed their desire to focus on "per-caps", or how much each type of fan will spend per trip to the ballpark, and that while they were selling less tickets, they were still pulling in the same amount of revenue due to focusing on the big spenders. Well, he's gone.

The comments were tone deaf and a front office nightmare, inducing multiple editorials across the southland, and enraging even the more casual fans of the team. We'll learn soon enough if this was just posturing from the club in the form of coercing Alvarado to resign, or if it's a sign of more reform to ticket sales protocols to come.

When the story first  broke, and the subsequent dust from the pitchfork mob had settled, it was easy to see how this was a multi-pronged problem that was going down in Anaheim, and answers weren't all that simple. Many were already questioning why attendance was down in the first place, and there were surface reasons like the Josh Hamilton debacle, or the fact that the team on the field this year is the definition of mediocre. Then there were more nuanced reasons, such as the team doing away with StubHub last year, and forcing fans to sell their tickets through an exchange, thus scaring off many season ticket holders for the 2015 season; or the hypothesis that this was all a power move to stay under a certain season attendance benchmark, thereby circumventing a payout to the city of Anaheim and continuing the ugly back and forth between Arte and Anaheim mayor Tom Tait.

One thing we DO know for sure now: if you're in Arte's camp, it's best not to talk to the media. A resignation looks better than an outright firing for Alvarado, who worked for the team for 15 years, but there was most likely a not-so-gently nudging done by his polo shirt-wearing cohorts, and thereby the big boss man Moreno himself. Saving face is the name of the game today. You'd think if they were more interested in sending a message, then something would have been done back when the outrage cycle was in full effect. We never got to see Alvarado make the trek from his office in the Big A to his car in the parking lot, stripped of his polo, followed by an usher walking behind him saying "Shame. Shame. Shame" before loudly hitting two Thundersticks together. If Arte wants us to know that he didn't condone Alvarado's comments or his Marie Antoinette-approved marketing strategy, then this wouldn't have taken two weeks, and it wouldn't have been a resignation.

This was the best of both worlds for the team, still trying to do what they think is right by their fans, but also trying to avoid any big headlines or acrimonious unemployment claims. Alvarado was merely a scapegoat, however, being the only person who, while stating things we didn't want to hear, was actually telling us the truth. We can't say that for the rest of the organization right now, because again, if they had a hardline stance against it, then summarily come down on the guy, don't wait two weeks  and get a lukewarm resignation and then expect fans to blindly assume "the bad man is gone, Uncle Arte is here to save the day."

Of course, maybe this will herald a change in how the team's box office operates and renew efforts to draw fans back into the stadium, no matter what the cost to their ledgers. For now, though, I can only go off actions, and with this corporate falling on the sword for Alvarado, two weeks after the fact, it's hard to imagine they think this issue is a priority, or one they even want to ever discuss in public again.