Saturday, April 2, 2011

How the Jays Can Compete With the Red Sox and Yankees

I was at the Toronto Blue Jays game today (they won 6-1 and rookie pitcher Kyle Drabek was awesome) and couldn't help but notice all the empty seats.  The announced attendance at the game was somewhere around 38,000 and since the capacity for the Skydome (I refuse to call it by its new bastard name) is 50,000 that means there were 12,000 empty seats.  This got me to thinking about how much money the Jays were missing out on by not having sold those seats and what they could do with all of that extra revenue.

So I looked up ticket prices on Ticketmaster and an average seat at a Jays game costs around $60 (now that number is subject to change based on the opponent as tickets for games against divisional teams like the Yankees and Red Sox cost more than a game against the Royals).  Going forward I will admit this is some pretty sketchy math but stick with me because I swear there is a point to all of it.

Now the biggest complaint from an average Jays fan is that the team will never make the playoffs as long as they are in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox.  Fans complain the Jays don't have the money to compete and insist on a salary cap being put in place to try and even the playing field.  As a Red Sox fan I get into this debate a lot and luckily I have the following handy statistic to use in just such an occasion that usually wins me the argument:

In 2010 the Yankees sold 88.9% of all available tickets and had an average attendance of 46,491
In 2010 the Red Sox sold 100% of all available tickets and had an average attendance of 37,610
In 2010 the Blue Jays sold 39.9% of all available tickets and had an average attendance of 20,068

That stat right there is why the Blue Jays can't compete financially with the Yankees and the Red Sox.  Both of those teams sell more tickets, which also means they sell more merchandise at food/beverages at the ballpark. Those extra sales mean extra revenue that the team can then spend on signing better players.  Its pure common sense and yet Jays fans don't want to hear it.

Back to the math.

Based on the above statistic there were 29,932 empty seats per Jays game.  If you multiply that number by 80 (the amount of home games the Jays had in 2010 remembering they lost 2 home games because of the G8) you get 2,394,560 tickets that went unsold.   If you then take that number and multiply it by $60 (the average ticket price) you get $143,673,600.  Now that is a shitload of extra cash that, had the Jays been able to sell out, could have been used to improve the roster of the team.

I understand that its hard to sell out every single game each year but think of what the Jays could do with all of that extra revenue (remember that just ticket sales and doesn't account for extra revenue from food, drinks, beer and merchandise).  The team could instantly become a baseball powerhouse and return to the glory days of 1992 and 1993 when it won back to back World Series titles.

Imagine this Jays fans.  Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos makes a special announcement at a massive press conference presenting the math I just quickly showed you to the entire Jays fan base.  He then says that if the Jays can sell out the Skydome for every home game he will use that extra money on players and make a run at Albert Pujols when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

Obviously it would be a long shot that Pujols would come to the Jays but with an extra $143 million to play with  I think they might have a serious shot.  The Yankees and Red Sox are set at first base and as Pujols aged he could become a DH still making him valuable in the later years of the contract.

Now Pujols is a Blue Jay and fans start going to the games because they want to see him play and obviously the team would improve with his addition to the roster.  All of a sudden fans realize that if they sell out every game for another season the team would be able to sign even more marquee free agents and just like that the Jays could compete with the Yankees and Red Sox.

I openly challenge anyone to find a hole in that logic.  It can't be done.  If Jays fans gave their team just 1 year of 100% attendance commitment they could overnight become a powerhouse.  Its really quite beautiful in its simplicity.

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