When news broke on Thursday that the Toronto Blue Jays were “farming out” tickets for an April series against the Detroit Tigers, I thought nothing of it.
The idea of offering tickets to Tigers ticket subscribers seemed sound. Jays games rarely sell out, and who knows? Perhaps, an influx of Tigers fans at Rogers Centre would spark a fledgling rivalry.
Our more cynical brethren at The Tao Of Stieb were immediately outraged at the idea, despite ticket maestro Patrick Elster’s promise not to farm out tickets for games that would likely sell out anyway.
The haze eventually began to lift for me as I realized that tickets to individual games weren’t scheduled to go on sale in Toronto until the beginning of March. Opposing fans were being offered seats ahead of hometown supporters.
Then, Jeff Blair from the Globe and Mail questioned Blue Jays head honcho Paul Godfrey on the ticketing scheme and learned that the Jays “have e-mailed fans of the Tigers and Red Sox offering them tickets to games at the Rogers Centre on April 4-6 (Red Sox) and April 18-21 (Tigers) before they go on sale to the general public in Toronto.”
Toronto is often bombarded with Boston fans whenever the Red Sox play in Toronto, so this isn’t anything new, right?
April 4th is the Blue Jays opening day. Opening day! If there was ever going to be a time when worries of overpowering “Youk” chants wouldn’t be necessary, it would be opening day, which is just about the only Jays game you can always count on to sell out.
What happened to Elster’s promise not to farm out tickets for games that were likely to sell out? There’s only one game that is likely to sell out, and according to Blair’s blog, it’s included in the six games that are being made available to opposing fans.
PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
As if trying to polish a turd and stall the impending outrage over this news, Godfrey suggests that “April is usually a tough month to sell tickets, and this is a good thing from the point of view of tourism, too. It’s business for the hotels.”
Well, then why not offer the tickets to foreign fans in April, or even March? Giving hometown fans the short end of the stick in this instance is simply unforgivable.
This is yet another demonstration of why Toronto fans remain distrustful of Blue Jays management. I hate to steal the sentiment of Richard Griffin, but Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick would turn in their grave over this news, and they’re not even dead!
My compatriot Stoeten says it best, “I understand that the team wants to sell tickets, but man… it’s dispiriting enough when you feel outnumbered by the visiting team’s fans in your own building.”
I’m not going to get into what it must feel like for a player, but from a fan’s perspective, these are marquee games against two of the better teams in baseball. Blatantly offering visiting fans to make themselves at home ahead of the hometown fans who also pay to see the Orioles and the Royals is a disgusting disregard to Blue Jays supporters.
I’m waiting now to hear confirmation that Opening Day tickets are actually being sold to Red Sox fans before Toronto fans because I find this scheme so completely and laughably unbelievable that I have no other option.
I’m also wondering if farming out tickets has been done before in the Majors. Is this a common practice for teams with attendance struggles?
Update: According to Blair’s blog today, opening day has not been included in the tickets being offered to Red Sox fans. Blair believes the advance ticket sales to opposing fans to be a good idea. While my initial reaction has been tempered with the news that opening day will not be offered, I’m still shaking my head at any tickets being offered to visiting team fans in advance of local supporters.