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In the D.C. area there is concern that there's (in the words of the TV reporters that just mentioned it) a bit of a sophomore slump for the Washington Nationals when it comes to sales -- sales of tickets and sales of merchandise as well.

In the last week, I've heard ads multiple times during Nats broadcasts telling listeners that there are plenty of tickets left for the Nats home opener tomorrow (April 11, 2006). As it turns out, I got tickets for the game some time back (the day they went on sale for non-season plan buyers), but one thing I was aware of as I made the purchase of those tickets is that the fine people that own and run the Nats had opted to put a premium on ticket prices for several of the games this season, including, but not limited to, Opening Day, the series against the Orioles, the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs -- all games that were expected to be relatively easy sell outs, but instead are proving to be a bit sluggish for sales.

There is a bit of a slump for sure, as the novelty of having a team has worn out quickly. Now that the city council has finally gotten a deal that guarantees a stadium will be built, people are quickly getting past the novelty of the team and see it as something more permanent. With that in mind, some fans, like me, are a bit irritated at the idea of being charged extra for tickets for some games over others.

When it comes time to buy team paraphenelia, there's also the problem for the team in that most fans bought their hats, jerseys, shirts, stickers, and other items last season. With a room full of trinkets, why would I need more?

Finally, there's the problem for the team, like all teams this season it would seem, that with gasoline prices again cresting the $3.00 / gallon mark, that disposable income isn't what it used to be for most people. Where last year I had $$ available for several games, this year things are tighter as I get read to help ship my eldest off to his choice of institutions of higher learning, and as I work on paying for enough petroleum products to keep my vehicle ready to get me to and from work.

Given the amount of money that MLB rakes in, and the amount that I know they took in last season just from the Washington Nationals franchise (which was split between all owners), I'm much less worried about showing my support via ticket purchases than I am in just getting by. I still love my Nats, and I'll enjoy them as much as possible on the TV (thankfully I get MASN, as I'm a DirecTV customer and not a victim of Comcast and their fight vs. MASN and the hated Peter Angelos) and for as many games as I can buy spot tickets for, but it's gonna be a tight season for me money wise, and Nats tickets and merchandise are at the lower end of the list unless someone gives me a winning lottery ticket (I don't buy them, but I'll gladly take one if someone wants to give me a winner )

Comments
on Apr 10, 2006
I almost forget the obligatory GOOOOOOOOOOOO NATIONALS!
on Apr 11, 2006
Part of the slump could be the lobbying restrictions. They haven't gone into effect, but a lot of offices are not longer accepting gifts, meaning lobbyists aren't buying up the tickets.
on Apr 11, 2006
Well, Washington failed twice before to keep an MLB franchise; while I wouldn't mind seeing one remain in the nation's capitol, it just doesn't seem to capture the hearts of the people who buy tickets.
on Apr 11, 2006
Well, Washington failed twice before to keep an MLB franchise; while I wouldn't mind seeing one remain in the nation's capitol, it just doesn't seem to capture the hearts of the people who buy tickets.


Actually there's a long and well misunderstood history about D.C. baseball. It's not so much that baseball failed in D.C. as several owners failed to run franchises in D.C. in manners that would keep them viable.

I think the Nationals will do just fine in D.C., but there are several factors that are pulling money away from those (like me) that would like to help support the team. Disposable income is not what I would like to see it at, and with gasoline prices still shooting skywards, I can understand where people would spend money first and foremost for getting to and from work, rather than going to a baseball game. Baseball is a luxury, not a necessity, no matter how much I enjoy praying at the Church of the MLB.

42,000+ was the paid attendance today. That's not bad. Not a sell out (missed by about 1 - 2k people I think) but not bad. If the team hadn't gotten greedy and jacked up prices for the game today, they'd probably have sold out. Instead, they pushed some attendance that would have been there today into tomorrow and Thursday. Day game also, middle of the week, not quite spring break for most kids, well, you get the idea - not an easy game to attend for most folks.

Thursday is in the middle of many kids spring breaks, so we might see a nice boost for that game.

The bigger problem for now is that the Nationals are still playing in a pitchers park, and their offense -- even with the addition of Alfonso Soriano -- is still anemic at best. Their pitchers get help from the stadium, but with no offense, they can't remain in games if their pitchers give up a few hits. A bad combination to be sure. Hopefully things will get better, and when they move to their new home in a few seasons, they'll wind up packing the place
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