The Angels have a new ticket promotion out called Spring Pass, and while it presents a great value to us, the rabid Angels fans, there is something sort of off about the whole thing...something that sets off alarms in my head. To my eyes, the problem lies with the unrepentant thirstiness of the promotion, a code red signaling that they need your attention and they need it QUICK, before you realize the product on the field may not be the prime ticket they were depending on. Yes, the Angels' Spring Pass is arguably the most desperate promotion the Angels organization has ever offered to the public. But what is Spring Pass and how should we read between the lines?
The details of Spring Pass can be found here, on the team's site. There are two options, the Promotions & Pyrotechnics Weekend Spring Pass or the American League Sun-Thur Spring Pass, but both offer the same deal: discounted tickets to some of the bigger, more heavily-attended(theoretically) games of the season, bought as a package. The weekend pass contains 12 games and the AL Sun-Thur pass contains 16 games, for $99 and $69, respectively. Sounds okay, so far, yeah? I mean, you're going to get fairly cheap seats for games against decent opponents and/or games that have the much-coveted promotions(bobbleheads, coolers, etc), so that's all fine and dandy.
The rub is this: you have to buy multiple packages if you're planning on going with any friends or families, tickets can't be refunded or traded, and oh, you'll have to be on standby the day of the game, waiting for a text from the club that directs you to the MLB.com Ballpark app where you'll then find out where your actual seats will be. Yep, all you'll know beforehand is that you'll be sitting somewhere in the 400,500 or pavilion section and you'll have to wait til about 3 hours before first pitch to find out your seat numbers. Uhhhh, okay. I guess I can see where they're going with that part; they want to make sure these aren't going to get scalped, and they assume TRUE FANS will be the ones doing this deal and using the app, and TRUE FANS buy merch, hot dogs and other Angels ephemera at the stadium.
That is my estimation of their thinking, at least. Sure, it's not that bad of a bargain, especially for premium games. But what does this type of promotion tell us, if anything, about the current mindset of the Angels front office? To me, it screams DESPERATION. They are frantically searching for ways they can unload tickets before the season starts, because they know deep down that if this current team tanks early, the Big A will be a ghost town by June. And what better way than to hedge all their bets than by doing so in a manner in which the tickets can't be flipped or re-sold on a secondary market? Sounds like music to the ticket czar's ears.
They also seemingly have a strong desire to fill the stadium early in the season, but does that mean that if 2016 is a complete bust, that we see a fire sale of the Angels on-field talent by July? Most other seasons, i'd think nothing of it and maybe even look into buying a Spring Pass of my own, but with the way things have been cratering for the Angels the last few seasons, including their vaunted "3 Million Fans per year!" benchmark they like to toot their own horns over, I look at this move as deviously thirsty.
They're selling off nosebleeds for about $8 a pop, including a serpentine and inconvenient of ticket delivery, and that isn't something that exactly oozes confidence in the product. It's all front loaded...games in April, May and June...when the team may be struggling or dealing with a characteristically slow start, and that has to be scaring the higher ups into figuring out new ways to slang tickets to the remaining Halos faithful. Now, the team could start out just fine, and we could all be breathing a huge sigh of relief, the top brass included...but until then, one has to wonder what other creative ways Arte and Co. are finding to stave off a half-empty Big A scenario in the first half of the season. Do they really think the Angels will be THAT bad? Or is this just a savvy way to sidestep any possible stories late in the season about declining Angels ticket sales?
The good news is we shall find out soon enough, but until then, let's cool it on any further acts of utter desperation. Okay, Angels?