Cheaper beer prices? Free food for kids? How insulting!
Following in the footsteps of the Cleveland Indians and other teams that have dropped concession prices at pro baseball stadiums, the Boston Red Sox are offering fans cheaper beer and food, as well as free kids meals. Team executives said the price cuts were intended to thank fans for their support.
How nice, right? Unfortunately for Red Sox ownership, many fans reacted to the news by venting that the team has been gouging Fenway Park visitors for years, and that the promotional prices on concessions amounted to a hollow “too little, too late” gesture.
The Boston Globe broke the news on Tuesday that for the month of April, Red Sox games at Fenway Park would feature buy-one-get-one-free hot dogs, half-price hot chocolate, free kids’ meals (hot dog, Goldfish, juice box) through the third inning, and 12 oz. beers starting at $5—down from the usual $$7.50 to $8.50.
“We’re looking for ways to fill the ballpark, and hopefully this will help,” said Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy. “But more importantly, that it be received as a thank you given everything we’ve been through the last nine, 10 years together. We thought it was an appropriate gesture.”
Based on the angry response from fans calling into sports talk radio and commenting online, however, the gesture isn’t being taken that way. “I would rather them do nothing,” wrote one commenter at the website of sports radio station WEEI. “This front office is unbearable. How stupid do they think Redsox fan’s are.” Another typical comment, at Boston.com, reads:
“Hey Sox brass, you guys are deplorable. It costs a family of four approx. $240 to go to a game at Fenway, so now you’re going to be ‘generous’ – for April ONLY, how thoughtful! – and it will only cost the family of four $225.”
Instead of being received as an olive branch by diehard fans after last year’s awful 69-93 season, the April promotions seem to have struck a nerve with Sox followers. The complaints unleashed this week include poor management decisions (hiring Bobby Valentine last year), a roster of largely “hateable” players, and years of marketing efforts aimed not at pleasing Sox loyalists but fair-weather fans—the ones who wear pink Red Sox hats and enjoy the Fenway Park “Sweet Caroline” sing-a-longs more than the game. Also, while the Red Sox wisely decided against raising ticket prices this season, seats at Fenway remain among the priciest in pro baseball—and the April promotions don’t include deals on tickets.
Though the math used by the Red Sox is questionable, the team claims to have the longest sell-out streak in Major League Baseball. Team executives have admitted that the streak is highly likely to end this year, probably in April.
The prospect of $5 beers isn’t likely to stop that from happening. Don’t be surprised, however, that if the Red Sox have a playoff-caliber year, a new sell-out streak will start, no matter what the price of beer or tickets.