Ticket Prices Down — But Not For Long

TORONTO (Oct. 19) — Whether the Blue Jays are swept by Kansas City for the American League Championship or go undefeated the rest of the way to win their third World Series, who do you think is going to pay for the club assuming the contracts of Troy Tulowitzki, David Price et al at the trade deadline?

If you need a clue, look in the mirror.

The tall foreheads at Rogers Communications were thoroughly justified — as it turns out — for opening the vault in the days prior to July 31. The cash influx enabled general manager Alex Anthopoulos to augment the most potent batting order in the Majors and the Blue Jays roared past New York to claim the American League East for the first time since 1993. Mission accomplished. Benevolence, however, stops right there.

Trust me when I tell you there ain’t no dummies in the gilded tower at 333 Bloor St. Until a year ago this week, Rogers held prices for Blue Jays games — owing, primarily, to a 21–year playoff drought; longest in the four major North American professional leagues. Then came Oct. 23, 2014 (the 21st anniversary of Joe Carter’s “touch ’em all” home run) and an across–the–board hike in ticket costs; the first since 2010.

Last year’s increase came on the heels of merely a winning record for the Blue Jays (83–79 — 13 games in back of division–leading Baltimore), with prices going up between 10 and 40 percent. Heaven knows what Rogers will do after the current season… and at least one round of playoff advancement.

Tulowitzki, for example, is owed $109 million between next year and 2021. There are no guarantees of post–season revenue beyond this week. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (combined 79 home runs and 225 RBI) need to be extended. If Price doesn’t return, the Blue Jays will have to fill the “staff ace” hole in the rotation. Among those potentially available in free agency: Johnny Cueto (tonight’s starter for Kansas City); Zack Greinke (who is reportedly opting out of the final three years — and $71 million — of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Jeff Samardzija (looking for a fat increase on the $9.8–million he made this season with the Chicago White Sox). Such an acquisition will cost Rogers a boat–load. You will help pay for it.

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TICKET PRICES WERE MORE–THAN REASONABLE BACK IN 1985, WHEN THE BLUE JAYS FIRST MADE THE PLAYOFFS — NINE YEARS AFTER THEIR ADMISSION TO MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. THESE STUBS ARE AMONG THOSE I USED AS A 26–YEAR–OLD FAN AT EXHIBITION STADIUM.

With the Blue Jays having dropped the first two games of the 2015 American League Championship Series in Kansas City, ticket prices for Games 3, 4 and (possibly) 5 at Rogers Centre are down sharply on secondary websites — Stubhub.com and VividSeats.com. A chair close to home plate in the upper–deck, which went for $145 (excluding “fees”) before the opener, was selling for as low as $90 this morning. These prices will dip even further if the Blue Jays lose again tonight… or rise accordingly if Toronto wins to get back into the series. There will be no–such option for season–ticket holders next year, or for those buying tickets directly off BlueJays.com. I would anticipate a substantial price–hike from top to bottom — to be announced shortly after the Blue Jays either win the World Series (gulp!) or are eliminated from the playoffs.

IT HAS HAPPENED

Toronto baseball fans wondering if it’s possible for the Blue Jays to hold serve at home in the ALCS need merely to check their 1985 history. Within a span of 19 hours, the Jays opened the Championship set with consecutive victories over Kansas City at Exhibition Stadium. The good guys prevailed in Game 2, 6–5, on a Lloyd Moseby single to right in the bottom of the tenth. Our ol’ “mistake–by–the–lake” rocked with a less-than–capacity, work–day crowd of 34,029. Here’s how it looked in Toronto newspapers of Oct. 10, 1985:

FSCN9756edited-XFSCN0334edited-XFSCN0338edited-XFSCN9750edited-XXX-Stieb      RSCN9733edited-XTHIS WOMAN — SELF–PROCLAIMED AS “CRISSE THE KISSING BANDIT” — RAN ONTO THE EXHIBITION STADIUM PITCH DURING GAME 1 TO PLANT A WET ONE ON STARTING PITCHER DAVE STIEB. ENTERPRISING PHOTOGRAPHER HUGH WESLEY OF THE TORONTO SUN TRACKED HER DOWN.

RSCN9746edited-XIN A COLUMN ENTITLED “IT’S TIME TO STAND UP TO CRITICS,” THE LATE GEORGE GROSS — FOUNDING SPORTS EDITOR OF THE SUN — DEFENDED, AS ALWAYS, THE CITY HE LOVED.

IF YOU WENT TO THE GAME…

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

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