I’ll give Arte Moreno credit when credit is due, and for the past year or so, he’s deserved it. Last year, it was him saying that he wanted to spend whatever it takes to make the team better, as long as it was on the right player, and when coupled with him taking more of a backseat role in terms of player and personnel decisions, you have a front office that has corrected course and sailed for warmer waters for some time now. That not only shows in the clubhouse and front office atmosphere, but also in the tenor among fans.
Yep, anybody that fell out of love with Arte Moreno over the last few years has every reason now to be back on his side and ready to ride or die with him and his excellent GM, Billy Eppler. Today, Moreno gave the rare glimpse of the inner workings of the Angels and their money issues throughout the last two seasons full of waning fan interest, when he told reporters at Tempe Diablo that the Halos had not made a dime the last two years.
The Angels, he added, have actually lost money each of the last two years, for the first time since he bought the team in 2003. Moreno said that, even though the attendance has continued to be over 3 million each year, dynamic pricing means they don’t make as much money from that attendance in years when the demand is low.
Now, I’m not going to chide Arte for still hanging on to that “3 Million Fans!!!” boast that he and his PR team love to hype, even though most people who pay even just a modicum of attention to the club will tell you that the figure represents tickets sold, not butts in the seats.
And we know from hearing from real deal ticket resellers in the past that the Angels and outlets like 714 Tickets tried some gambles on having exclusive deals in the last season or two, which in the end really killed their dynamic pricing while also leading to a bunch of “omg attendance!”-touted games that clearly had empty seats galore.
That stuff is now in the past, and Moreno is coming clean, somewhat, about those mistakes the club made...just in a veiled fashion...but the important thing is that he has told us what our eyeballs have told us all along: 3 million tickets sold means jack when the games are still featuring large, barren chunks of stadium seating.
Arte Moreno most likely feels free of any of those troublesome, ticket-hawking burdens now, though, and he’s got to have dollar signs in his eyes while he is awake, and dancing around in his head while he’s asleep and dreaming; there is a tidal wave of cash coming his, and his team’s, way. That makes it pretty easy to own up to a couple years of operating in the red.
The reason he’s going to be doing some Scrooge McDuck-style swimming in a pool of wealth, though, is not of his own doing, really. Well, it may be his front office’s doing or Billy Eppler’s tenacity, to be fair, because it’s only because Shohei Ohtani chose the Angels that Arte and the Red Polo Bro-lo Posse (aka the front office and business operations people that work for the Angels) can be dancing a jig right now.
How many Valentines do you think Arte sent Ohtani? Probably not enough.
The Angels are surely to make money in 2018, and if there’s probably no more interesting proof of that right now than taking a look at their current spring training box office prices. I recently read a blog post by Stephen Spiewak, of Vividseats, that was quite eye-opening to the effect that Ohtani, a superstar of superstars in Japan who is now making his way stateside, all while wearing a Halos uniform, has on his new org’s ledgers.
First off, think of this simple, but mind-blowing fact: The average 2017 Angels ticket price was $34, and right now, the average Angels 2018 spring training ticket price is $49. Yes, the average ticket for an Angels game last year, with the Team of Destiny dazzling us with comeback win after comeback win, and loaded up with guys like Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons, is 44% LESS than a ticket to see the team play some exhibition games in Arizona. That’s all on Ohtani. Arte Moreno is in love.
I reached out to Stephen Spiewak to find out some more about this amazing phenomenon, and he was able to use VividSeats’ data to give me an even better insight into just how crazy Shohei Ohtani’s presence is, in terms of ticket sales.
He told me that, first of all, traffic to Vividseats.com was up 60% year over year, which is pretty nifty in its own right, but then you take into account that Japan is calling dibs on the #3 spot when it comes to origins of site visits and sales on VividSeats, with Canada and USA being the #2 and #1, respectively. Last year, Japan didn’t even crack their top 10.
That’s got to be all Ohtani, right? “There’s clearly more buzz around the Angels this year than last year. We’re noticing much more interest, including from Japan, in Angels tickets, so it’s not unreasonable to point to Shohei Ohtani as the reason”, Spiewak told me via email.
I think that’s endlessly intriguing, and also just straight up cool as hell, knowing the Halos have a player that can impact the cash flow AND (hopefully) the W/L column THAT much. They already had the world’s best player in Mike Trout, and now they have the world’s most remunerative player in Shohei Ohtani, at least from what data we’re seeing creep out now as spring begins to descend upon the Big A.
So yeah, Arte Moreno has every right to be coming clean about having his first down years, in a dollars and cents sort of way, since buying the team in 2003, because he is standing atop the highest billboard he owns just to get a view of the what’s on the horizon, and it’s nothing but green. This is a good time to be Arte Moreno, and it’s an amazing time to be an Angels fan, and it’s all due to 23-year-old Shohei Ohtani.