Larry Lucchino: Fenway Park sellout streak likely to ‘rest in peace’ in April
|02.14.13 at 2:45 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It has been nearly a decade since the Red Sox announced anything short of a sellout crowd at Fenway Park. Since May 15, 2003, every game at Fenway Park has been announced as a sellout in a remarkable 793-game streak that has become increasingly controversial thanks to the swaths of green seats that characterized the park (thanks chiefly to no-shows) last September.
The streak, however, appears to stand on the brink of its demise. With ticket sales down following a 69-93 disaster of a 2012 season, Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino acknowledged on Thursday at JetBlue Park that the streak of packed houses is expected to conclude in April.
“It’s going to rest in peace, I think, sometime in April I suspect. That’s not such a terrible thing,” said Lucchino. “It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”
Lucchino defended the legitimacy of the streak. The Sox currently use the same definition of a sellout that has been in use for decades, dating prior to the current ownership group’s assumption of control of the club in 2002. The standard for a sellout is that there are more tickets sold than there are seats in the ballpark. Lucchino said that the Sox haven’t twisted either numbers or definitions to sustain their run of sellouts.
“We didn’t gerrymander a new definition. We took the definition that was in place and had been in place 10, 20 years before us and was commonplace among many clubs in baseball,” said Lucchino. “And then there’s a dictionary, literal definition that some have taken. But I would just point you to one fact. Over the last 11 years, and I checked this this morning in anticipation this might come up, we have sold — sold — roughly 36,200 tickets. Our capacity over that time has changed.
“That [average] capacity is something like 36,300, something like that. We have sold 99.6 percent of the available seating capacity over the last 11 years. Our comp tickets are among the lowest in all of baseball. We’re talking about having more people in the ballpark than there are seats for them. That’s been the operating definition. You can choose another definition and say that it doesn’t fit it. But the truth is we’ve sold 36,170-something tickets over the course of the last 11 years, and that by itself, put aside definitions or semantics, that by itself is extraordinary. Selling 99.6 percent of the tickets is extraordinary.
“There are some media outlets that have taken a different definition and suggested some kind of chicanery on our part, that we somehow cooked the books,” he added. “That implication is unfair and wrong. We’re still going to fill this ballpark with lots of people a lot of times. Having set the record will always be a source of pride for our franchise and for the fans.”
Still, the end is seemingly nigh, with the team’s second contest of the year on April 10 against the Orioles circled as a potential end point.
“Historically, for all of baseball, the second game of the season has been the toughest game to sell tickets for. It could be as early as that,” said Lucchino. “I have no doubt Opening Day will be a sellout. Of course April weather doesn’t help a lot, and we have a lot of home games in April. It could be as early as the second [game], but I suspect it will be sometime in that first or second week.”
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