If today's words from Angels vice president of communications are to be taken as truth, then the Angels fanbase has remained firmly intact this off-season, and are ready to get those per-caps numbers beefed up for Arte Moreno and Co. this coming season. Either that, or about 16,000 people have stayed completely off the internet for the past three months and are under the assumption that the Angels made some amazing moves in the interim, because while there may be a loud portion of fans upset with the Halos and refusing to spend money on them, the ticket sales for 2016 are doing just fine...according to the Angels, that is.
"We feel pretty good about things" is the exact wording used by Mead in a piece today from the LA Times about the unwavering amount of tickets already sold, including a large portion of 2015 season ticket holders coming back for more.
The team recently passed the 16,000 mark for the sale of full-season equivalents, which include full-season tickets and the number of tickets sold in mini-plans that add up to 81 games. About 90% of season-ticket holders from 2015 have renewed their seats for 2016, Mead said.
Good for the Angels and their super-fans for the strong pre-season showing, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say this screams of typical front office posturing. Do we really expect the Angels to come out and say anything other than "Everything is great. Ticket sales are great." even if it couldn't be further from the truth? If you are in the middle of a free agent period that saw a bevy of talent available in a position the team was sorely lacking in(left field), and you opted to not spend any money and just go with a middling-at-best platoon, much to the chagrin of diehard fans, it'd be a deluge of bad press to then also let the fans know that ticket sales are tanking and 2016 is already in dire straits, business-wise. To paraphrase a quote from Eight Men Out, the Angels may be stupid but they ain't dumb.
Of course, I've had my own reservations and problems with the moves(or lack thereof) the Angels have laid down this winter, so perhaps my frustration with the club is now manifesting itself in cynicism and doubt towards Tim Mead's comments. They DID make a move to get an unreal shortstop by the name of Andrelton Simmons, there are some exciting young arms in the rotation, and there is MIKE. F*******. TROUT. So for those with enough disposable income at the ready, it's not a stretch to see why ticket sales could be strong, no matter how much Angels Twitter is feverishly displeased and loudly proclaiming they'll never give Arte another dollar.
"The fan experience hasn’t changed here," Mead said. "We’ve seen big contracts and big-name players, but I think it’s a winning club more than the individuality of one person.
"The way the season ended, the September run … we played 162 meaningful games last year, and that ninth inning of Game 161, and what we tried to finish off in Game 162, left a feeling of, ‘Let’s get after it.’ "
So maybe Tim Mead is totally serious, and things at the Halos box office are just peachy, despite the rabble from certain corners of the internet. Still, I have a hard time believing it, even if true. Not to mention it's hard for me to agree with the statement "The fan experience hasn't changed here" when a problem-filled 2015, both on the field and in the front office, seemed to scream otherwise. Luckily for us, DiGiovanna gives us some context regarding ticket sales in the off-season, and it appears that while things are just fine and dandy in their eyes, there IS a decline in enthusiasm for a team that is continually missing the playoffs:
The Angels sold a franchise-record 31,000 season tickets in 2006, but that figure dropped to 24,000 by 2012. In 2013, the number fell to 21,000, and by 2014, it was about 18,500. In 2015, there were 17,000 season tickets sold.
If you're just looking at those figures, you'd think Mead is full of it when saying things like "We feel pretty good about things", but keep in mind that as long as those people that ARE buying tickets are of the big spender variety, then things ARE looking good in their eyes. For now. They can only ride off of that good will and playoff near-misses for so long, I think. Another poor showing in 2016, while AL West teams NOT named the Angels are getting better and opening their windows of contention wide open, and you will see those sales continuing to take a nose dive, and no amount of big spenders or staggering per-caps will be able to keep the beads of nervous sweat dripping down Mead's brow.