(photo courtesy of Nats Enquirer)
The Nationals just sent out a press release announcing their Take Back The Park Night, an effort to try to stop the annual invasion of Philadelphia Phillies fans in Nats park (a tradition invited by our former president, Stan Kasten). Their strategy? Give Nats season ticket holders, and those who live in the DMV, a chance to buy tickets for select Phillies games before they become available to the general public.
Here's a portion of the release:
"The Washington Nationals today launched Take Back the Park, an exciting initiative that encourages local Nationals fans to purchase tickets for the first three games against the Philadelphia Phillies before they go on sale to the general public.
Beginning today, single game tickets for the May 4-6 Nationals vs. Phillies series will only be available to season ticket holders and fans who reside in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia. This exclusive presale will ensure that the team’s most loyal fans have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to cheer on the Nationals when they play their NL East rivals to the north."
Two thoughts here on my end:
1. Great PR move here on the Nats end. One of the biggest complaints by Nationals fans over the years has been that we get washed out at our own ball park by obnoxious Phillies fans. While the truth may be that Washingtonians are to blame for it, for not buying tickets to see their own home team play, reminding fans that they had an extra opportunity to buy tickets before others gives the team a strong defense if a Philly takeover happens again. Of course, while we all want to believe that the team cares deeply about its local fans, as most things are this is a money grab. The team is trying to rally their fanbase to buy up tickets for these games by giving them a strong call to action. Personally, I have no problem with it at all and hope that I only see Nats fans there that weekend.
2. I don't know if this will work. I have a feeling that Nationals fans will not start buying tickets in DC until we begin winning. I mean, of course the REAL Nats fans will buy tickets, but was the Verizon Center ever full until Ovechkin was the best player in hockey and Gilbert Arenas was leading the league in scoring? Nope...I have a feeling demand for tickets wont go up in Washington until about May, which means this promotion may be too late.
I think with the direction this club is going Nats are going to start selling out! Our pitching is shaping up to be AWESOME! if we can maintain what was right last season and improve what wasn't...this Nats team is going to be SOLID! let's go Nats!
(sorry - wrong key!) I'll never forgive them for making me an outsider at my own stadium. that was horrible.
That's a really dumb financial move...all you see of the Nats on Sportcenter is empty seats and visiting team homeruns...
Gross over-reaction by the Phillies fans on the post. You would feel the same way if your stadium was called Citi Field South or Nationals Park North. Luckily you live in a time when the Phillies are actually selling out seats. When they were back in the Vet, most seasons they only sold on average, a little over the amount of seats. Don't get too spoiled with this half decade of semi-prosperity. Soon, and maybe even this year, the Phils will see a decline because of the age of the team as well as a weak farm system.
Thats hysterical. Your team sucks so bad that you have to invest time and energy in banning Phils Fans? You should be happy we drive two hours to visit that toilet of a city you are in and spend our money in that toilet of a stadium you have. Imagind if our fans come down to DC and block the gates? Don't put it past us. Oh...and wait till you see the welcoming comittee that awaits Gnats fans....all 6 of them that come to Philly.....ba ha ha ha....CANT WAIT !!!!!
You didn't "ban" Mets fans but the Phillies did do something similar, selling to their own fans FIRST before selling to the general public. Nats aren't BANNING anyone, they are just trying to give their fans the best shot at the tickets first. I missed where a team catering to something its fans HAVE ASKED FOR is a bad thing. Sigh.
Good stuff in the comments here. Clearly something has struck a nerve with Phillies fans.
This is WAY better than encouraging Phillies fans to come. Besides, teams restrict who can or can't buy tickets by home address all the time in every sport, hopefully Nats fans hop on board and enjoy the ride.
@TheNatsBlog no one has ever accused a Phillies fan of being intelligent.
@TheNatsBlog"I think D.C. does just fine with the whole "tourism" thing...without drunk Phillies fans..." LOLOLOL. They are so overracting
This is pathetic. Truly pathetic. You should be complaining about this, not celebrating it. When we had Mets fans all over Citizens Bank Park, we didn't ban Jersey and New York. This is just sad.
How stupid for the city! The stupidest campaign I have ever seen. They were the only sell outs of their season. I went last year and did you see all the tourism dollars brought in by Phils fans??? Hotel rooms, tickets, food in the ballparks, museums... only in Washington would you turn away consumer spending that's good. Whatever PR person put this out there should be fired. Go PhilliesS!!!!!
@JerryHChrist Did you walk around Nats Park like last year or the year before when they let fans in? Was really fun.
Honestly I think this started when they included a PHI game in their holiday 3 pack, which I bought. But I'm glad to see them starting to really push this.:)
@Philley The Phillies still actually have a top ten system and probably the pitching envy of minor league baseball. There won't be a decline as long as we have arms year in and year out on the way, and $170 million in payroll. You can hope for this year, but you'll be disappointed. If you watch how the contracts expire, and their top prospects fit, this team gets to stay a contender probably as long as they are willing to spend.
Second off, I've had tickets since 1991. Do you know how annoying Mets fans are when they swarm your park? I do. We never pulled anything nearly this bush-league to keep them out though. We went out and built a winner. You guys should try it too. You have a top pick who's arm might fall off again and is going to have an innings count that limits your hopes of competing this year, and the most grossly over paid loser in the game in your outfield. There's hope for your team, and you should win more than you lose this year, but don't get carried away before you win something.
@PHILSROCK Wait, so the Phillies don't give their fans special pre sale offers to buy tickets to stuff? Really they must not give a shit about their fans though. I'm at a loss how an MLB team giving an early promotion to their fans or season ticket holders FIRST is banning someone. You guys are really idiotic to think this has something more to do than responding to what the fans have asked. One of the things people hate about concerts by the way is the fact that big ticket businesses get in and snatch up the best tickets from regular folks. Well the Nats are accomondating a fan base THAT ASKED THEM TO DO THIS to give them first shot at their tickets. But I forgot, they are the Nats and are supposed to kiss the ass of the ever superior Phillies over their own fan base. Really, thats what this is about, you think Nats should continue to cater to the PHILLIES not their own fans. Yeesh. You guys are making me hate the Phillies and I haven't before.
@PHILSROCK Who banned Phils fans?
Why would you want to give someone a hard time at a baseball game you paid to go to?
@TurtleZoot Wrong. I've had season tickets since 1991. We never had an area specific restriction on a sale, ever, in my adult life. I don't even think we did in the late 1980's. This is just plain weird. I've never seen a team so bothered by opposing fans.
@TurtleZoot Your support in the comments section would help quiet them down
@RichWilkins Again, are people reading this story or just the headline?
1. Where is the celebration? We said it was a smart PR move because the Nationals would be able to defend themselves from the fans when Phillies fans inevitably takeover Nats Park again... We also said we didn't think it would work.
2. What ban are you referring to? They're giving Nats fans a (really just people in the DMV area) an opportunity to buy tickets first...if they dont buy them...anyone can buy them. Phillies fans...Red Sox Fans...D.C. United Fans..anyone.
3. What would I be complaining about?
@HERNCANE Did you read the article? The only way this stops Phillies fans from coming to Nats park is if the game is sold out by Nats fans before the tickets become publicly available...otherwise Phillies fans can still buy tickets. So either they get their way and they Sell out the game to Nationals fans...or they still sell out the game...to Phillies fans.
In regard to the tourism dollars. While I'm sure the district appreciates you spending money in the city...i think D.C. does just fine with the whole "tourism" thing...without drunk Phillies fans...
@Roboto420 I did it 2 years ago. My parents are season tickets holders so they're rabid fans. It was really cool seeing the locker room
@RichWilkins A top ten system and the pitching envy of minor league baseball? Think what you want. Most farm system rankings I have seen have put them above 20, but I haven't seen Baseball America's book yet so let me know if they say differently. I do know though that the Nats were ranked #1 before the Gio team. Based on this I'm confused as to how you think that we aren't trying to build a winner when you say we should try it too. I agree with your point that the Phillies will be good with a $170 million dollar payroll but I feel like it is hypocritical for most fans who say the Yankees win just because of their payroll. I know that's not your decision though. I think you're a little bias on the Strasburg and Werth issue. Strasburg performed amazing last year after rehab and he should continue that. Werth should also have a bounce back year after his horrible year last year. I really don't think I was carried away, but that's your opinion.
@TurtleZoot@PHILSROCK Correct me if I'm wrong dude, didn't we pay the signing bonuses of Strasburg and Harper? I find this laughable to be honest with you, I'm pretty sure Phillies fans are still paying for Werth to play for your team now. Your ownership should kiss the ass of Phillies fans. I'm only kind of joking here.
I live in DC most of the time and don't go much to your park. This whole decision is not relevant to me. I have my tickets in Philly, and that's where I go watch games. I just think you guys should toughen up like the losers in Queens and stop worrying about who fills your stadium. When you're a playoff team, you'll fill your seats.
@TheNatsBlog Done, though facts and logic haven't had much effect today, lol.
@TheNatsBlog I'm reading it and finding it hard to agree this does anything good for the team.
1. Fair enough. If this is about the ownership defending themselves later, they did that. I would see it as a bad PR move though if it was my team, as it just looks weak. I can only imagine how it would have turned out if the Phillies had done this in 2005 in regards to the Mets.
2. Ban/Just selling tickets to your own fans, you pick the terminology, I understand they can have different meanings word for word, but the point is the same. I just think it looks bad. This is the east coast, where opposing fans can be pretty abusive, and will seize on this.
3. I would be complaining about the optics of this. They just made it more of an obvious issue already. We fill more than half of Citi Field these days too. Are the Mets doing anything similar to this?
@JerryHChrist Yeah that's when I did it.
@RichWilkins@Philley So one writer you found put you guys in the top ten and you believe it? Looks like you read as much about the minors as I do. Like I said, find me baseball america's 2012 ranking and I'll believe it, but until then, one writer on espn won't do it for me. Look, I'm not going to argue with someone who just puts teams down because they want to even though they think someone's system is good. If I actually believed the Phillies system was as good as the Nationals or as close to as good I probably would of never started this in the first place
@Philley Yes, the pitching envy of minor league baseball. Have you heard of the "Baby Aces?" If not, you should read more about minor league baseball. Three of them hit the MLB.com top 100. That's three pitchers, and arguably not even the best three.
I can't find the ESPN writer who put us in the top ten now, but his basic line was that we are heavy on arms, which if you read about the minors, you would already know. You were ranked #1 before the Gio trade, which is a function of finishing last enough. I do think you've made some nice picks, so if it sounds like i'm putting your system down, it's just because I want to, not because I think it sucks. I actually do think you're front office is trying to put out a winner, but frankly I have my doubts because they did give Werth his deal, but wouldn't give Prince his. That's just me. As for Strasburg, he did well after his return, but the only start I saw from him was his bad one against Atlanta, so i'm a bit tainted by that. Werth I think was a horrible, horrible mistake for you guys. I wanted to take the Tampa deal and get him out of town in 2010, as he had horribly misleading numbers. His inconsistency had me convinced he would not hold those numbers long haul, and I'd fear that last year is the new him for you guys.
@RichWilkins@TurtleZoot@PHILSROCK You are right. The philadelphia phillies are God's gift of sports franchise. They are the absolutely 100% flawless with the greatest, most friendly & supportive fans our wonderful planet has ever seen. They have the best major league team, best minor league team, best affiliate little league team, hell, they have the #1 ranked bat boy. Word has it their AA bat boy is the #1 prospect according the baseball America..
The phillies will win the world series every year until the world comes to an end, and we will build a shrine for them. Every day at 7:00 AM, every citizen of this country will be required to go out and worship them at their feet. If anybody decides to go against the all great philadelphia phillies, they will be executed on the spot.
@chase_me_mark You're living in a fantasy world. We haven't had anything near poor attendance since the early Bowa days, and "bad" attendance in Philly was still 20,000. We haven't been below 2 million since 2002. Haven't been below 3 million since 2006. We haven't averaged under 28,000 a night since 2002. By comparison, you've topped 28,000 a night once in DC since your first year. If you think great attendance in Philadelphia started in 2009, you're frankly ignorant to numbers.
Teams that are well run and spend $170 million a year aren't ever bad. You can point at the Mets of the last two years, and I'd point at the last 20 years in the other part of New York, or Boston. I'm not defining good as always being as good as right now. I expect the Nationals to have a "good" team this year as I'm defining it, but not have a playoff team. I'm saying 85-90 wins for you guys. That is not a bad baseball team. Call it arrogant all you'd like, we're not going to be bad anytime soon. While you have young talent, it's far from established fact that you'll ever pass us, let alone become the class of a division with even better farm systems than your's (Atlanta).
@RichWilkins The arrogance (and ignorance) being displayed here is amusing. Keep on thinking that the Phillies will never be bad again and that they have the most supportive fans in the game. Those of us who live in the real world know better.
Interesting you mention a sellout streak that started right AFTER they won the WS. Only 5-6 years ago they were smack dab in the middle of the NL in attendance. But I'm sure management never did anything to try to increase fan support then, so it's all good.
@TheNatsBlog@TurtleZoot@PHILSROCK You obviously thought this response very far through, good job. Now, why you're off the reservation with what you just wrote. The Nats, and every other team for that matter, don't base it all off of the raw attendance number, but on the profit they pull. The main source of income though, for every single team, is at the gate. The Nats have pulled more actual money in the end over the last four years, even though those four years have been nowhere near as good in attendance as the first two. Why? Because the Nationals now have their "own" park, as opposed to the first three years at RFK. They sell their own licensing fees to Bud and whoever else now, they sell their own boxes, and oh yeah, they charge more. So while their raw ticket for ticket number isn't as good as 2005 or 2006, their profits at the gate are up. So basically, you're saying that ticket sales are down, so by my logic they should be slashing, is just a completely off-base argument. I'm saying that actually, net-sales profit is up for the Nationals, and it's up by a lot probably. If it was down, you don't sign Werth, almost certainly.
With that said, you're also in a unique situation, kind of like the examples you cited, in that the economics dictate you have to do something. The Angels made the moves they did because a player like Pujols, or a hometown boy like Wilson, pay for themselves. The Dodgers signed Kemp to make the team more attractive to potential buyers. The Nationals signed the players they did because the owners are very wealthy, and trying to save their investment in this team from becoming a failure. Inevitably, with very wealthy owners trying to save an investment, you have been willing to invest more than the small profits you're turning at the gate because of the unique situation. The truth is that they had to try something a bit out there, because it's a bad market. Most of us that work in DC aren't Nats fans, we stick to our home teams, and only go to that park when it's time to watch those teams beat the Nats. You're competing to the north with the poor Orioles for market interest, which limits the possibilities to grow, and down to the south around Richmond they are Braves fans. Given those facts, your owners are more desperate than most, and willing to do a little bit crazier things than most.
I can guarantee you though, without the nine Phillies dates a year, they don't do some or ALL of the moves in question. Last August, the Phillies set an attendance record at your park of 44,685. Knocking a little off of that, and saying we brought 44,000 a game to Nationals Park, we brought just under 400,000 fans to your park, out of the 1,940,478. To be fair, we brought in a fifth of your fans for our games. You didn't have many other big draws, but tack on the Cubbies, the Orioles games, maybe a few Mets and Cardinals fans, and you're probably close to half your fans for like five teams. Basically, your owners probably cut a modest profit thanks to the nine Phillies games. If they didn't cut this profit in recent years, I do not believe they would make the same financial decisions. For this reason, I find the dislike of the "Phillies invasions" by Nationals fans to be laughable. We're not a minor enough part of your finances to dismiss. Obviously those 400,000 fans aren't the entire difference in signing Harper's deal, but knock let's say 240,000 off if the Phillies didn't invade, and see if the Nationals don't have to do something else different to make that deal happen. If you don't think this matters, you know little about how a team would operate.
Now, not to "feed the troll" here either, but in the end of the day, none of this matters to the bush-league move your franchise pulled yesterday, and actually the move won't matter either. In the end, a few thousand more Nats fans will buy tickets to those Phillies games, then when the tickets go on sale to anyone, Phillies fans will probably buy seats anyway, which is a win-win for your ownership now. My point is that your fan base is very thin-skinned to need something like this, as in the end , having to endure us nine times a year is helping you have young Gio Gonzalez.
By your logic, the Nats should be cutting and slashing their payroll each year because their ticket revenues are dropping. That hasn't been the case, their payroll has gone up year after year. Teams don't make their budget based off of their ticket sales from the year before, they make their budget based on the quality of the potential investment of the team's future. Every team that has an increase in payroll works this way. It's not like your average family who gets a christmas bonus, and therefor goes out and gets a new car because it now fits the budget.
If the front office can convince the owner to invest in a certain game plan because he can convince them it will help put a winning team on the field, then the budget for the team grows. It's based off projected revenues from having a winner, not off of the previous year's revenues.
For example, the LA Angels made an investment when they signed Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson this offseason. The Angels had their worst attendance last year since 2003, but that didn't stop them from making the second biggest free-agent signing ever. The potential to dominate the LA Market, coupled with a new television deal and a potential of becoming an AL Pennant contender with great merchandising deals allowed them to make the investment.
The Dodgers had BY FAR their worst attendance since 2000, and lord knows they had other financial problems this year. How did that effect their on the field budget? They signed Matt Kemp to a $160 million deal and had their highest payroll in years this season.
In short, Ticket sales are one part of revenue which plays a part of the role in a team's finances and budget strategy. To suggest that nine games which a Phillies fans attendend was the result of a $150 million investment (Harper, Strasburg, Werth) is nuts. The money comes form an ownership group that is investing in having a winning baseball team in one of the wealthiest markets in America. When you win you do have more ticket revenues, but MUCH more importantly you get sponsorships, you get mega tv contracts (the nats currently have the worst one in baseball due to the relocation deal), and you sell merchandise.
Teams spend money to get fans in the seats and draw eyeballs to their team. They dont spend money to match the amount that are already there.
@TheNatsBlog@TurtleZoot@PHILSROCK Yes, your owner is filthy rich, but you're much like us in that respect. Even though you have deep pockets behind the team, you run the team on a budget (every team but one does), and they do base their payroll on the money they bring in. If we didn't sell you guys out close to 9 times a year, along with the few other teams who do, I wonder if you would have signed either one.
@TheNatsBlog These two franchises aren't in the same place at all. I do get that. I also get that Nats fans, the few out there who show, want this. I guess it's just not something I respect. You guys are finally putting a respectable team on the field, and pulling something like this in ticket sales. I'd just be mad if my team did this.
@RichWilkins All they are doing is creating a pre-sale for those who are partial season ticket holders or those who have billing adresses in the DC area. My guess is that the stadium will still have a huge amount of Phillies fans in it.
The ownership is simply doing it so that their own fan base will view them in a better light.
I think the big difference here is that Nationals fans do not care at ALL what other people think about their franchise. Whether it looks weak, or desperate. This is a team that has had the worst record in baseball twice since the 2005 season and has made losing a common place in the past. Our reputation really isn't something that matters.
Washingtonians care about fan experience. This is a gesture that shows the fans that the team is attempting to do something to improve that experience. Simple as that.
Phillies fans can make fun of it all they want, but in the end, who really cares?