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With no plan for winning, Rockies turn to filling seats in 2022

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, May 21

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When I was 15 years old, I was unbelievably lucky to be able to go to the Home Run Derby at Coors Field. Somehow, my dad was given tickets a few rows behind the first base dugout and my mom and I got to go. After caving to the boos he received when he said he didn’t want to participate in the homer contest, Ken Griffey Jr. smashed 19 homers, one of which sailed 510 feet, to earn the crown. Vinny Castilla made it to the second round. It was an amazing experience I will never forget.

Despite the All-Star Game and all its associated events coming to Coors Field this year, it’s probably nothing I will ever be able to experience again – unless that kind of free luck strikes twice.

While tickets to exclusive events are often elusive to an average person’s salary, to even have the opportunity to buy tickets to the star-studded festivities, would-be attendees have to swallow a pretty bitter pill: a mandatory $500 non-refundable deposit for 2022 season tickets. Oh, and that’s on top of one of the three ticket plan options: 1) $1,000 passport (comes with “option for at least 2 tickets to All-Star Week events”); 2) $2,500 passport (comes with “option for at least 2 tickets to All-Star Week events”); 3) 40 regular-season tickets for games from June 28 to the home season finale on Sept. 29.

Passports are made for flexibility and don’t come with a set number of games, number of tickets, or sections for seats, but do give buyers “access to discounted tickets.” The 40 regular-season ticket plan can range from $3,000 per person for the most expensive – club level infield – and $1,500 per person for the least expensive – right field mezzanine, pavilion, upper reserved infield, lower reserved outfield, and lower rooftop reserved. That does include the 2021 tickets, the All-Star Weekend strip (which includes the All-Star Futures Game, the All-Star Celebrity game, All-Star Workout Day on Monday, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game), and the 2022 deposit.

So, just for having recently submitted a bid to host an All-Star Game at some point in the future and because Colorado doesn’t have restricted voting laws, the Rockies, namely Dick Monfort, are stumbling into money despite having a bad team and trading away the team’s best player who will now come back and play in a Cardinal All-Star jersey in his old stomping grounds.

While my boycott of paying for Rockies tickets officially ended when Jeff Bridich left the building, I still haven’t been compelled to go to a game this season and spend money to support this organization in its current state. The notion of a $500 non-refundable deposit for 2022, when Trevor Story and Jon Gray might be gone and the front office doesn’t promise to have a plan, is ludicrous.

The Rockies certainly aren’t the first team to use non-refundable season ticket deposits to lure fans who want to see an All-Star Game and/or the Home Run Derby in their home park. A New York Times article by Ken Belson exploring the benefits to the Mets hosting the Midsummer Classic in 2013 explains that even lousy teams, like the Mets in 2013 and the Rockies in 2021, can make money and not make winning a priority. The Rockies didn’t have the benefit of having two years of sales building up the game like most hosts do, but it doesn’t mean they can’t generate revenue by holding All-Star Weekend tickets ransom for 2022 season-ticket deposits.

Belson captured a telling quote from the Kansas City Royals’ senior vice president for business operations, Kevin Uhlich, after the Royals hosted the 2012 All-Star Game: “For us, the big plus is you expand your season-ticket base going into that year. While our play on the field didn’t change, our season tickets were up 25 percent because the only way to guarantee All-Star tickets was to buy a ticket plan.”

Belson’s article also has reports from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who “sold about 3,000 extra season ticket packages in 2011 because of the game” and the L.A. Angels, who used the 2010 All-Star Game season-ticket deposits to help come out of the Great Recession. Like every other MLB team, the Rockies are coming out of a ticket-less 2020 and limited-capacity seating in 2021 so far. Plus, there’s still that $51 million they owe the Cardinals for taking Arenado. Somebody has to pay for that.

Attendance at Coors Field thus far this season has been capped at 21,000 fans, but starting June 1, that number will be bumped up to 35,000. On April 6 when the move from Atlanta was made official, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said that he expected the game to take place in front of “a fully-packed sellout stadium in July.” Specific figures haven’t been announced in terms of ticket sale revenue, but it’s an MLB event where the MLB figures to keep most, if not all, the money for all the events.

But there’s other revenue the Rockies could collect. Belson also reported that “Sponsors also tend to show more interest in a team about to be the host of an All-Star Game — even if, like the Mets, it is not a good team — because they want the benefit of having their names associated with a national event. The Royals and the Angels, among others, said they were able to sign longer-term sponsorship deals in the lead-in to the All-Star Game.”

On the flip side, the Royals also told Belson that single-game ticket sales declined by 21 percent. So, it’s possible the Rockies will be taking money from the same pot of fans who would be going to games anyway.

Alternatively, fans could turn to the second-hand market where tickets to All-Star Game alone range from $549 (Rockpile) to $2,730 (Infield Box 121) apiece on StubHub. Home Run Derby tickets are going from $342 (Lower 319) to $800-$900 for the backless benches in the Pavilion on SeatGeek.

Considering all those options, it turns out that my 1998 Derby attendance was once in a lifetime. At this point, I don’t want tickets to any All-Star Game events. All I want is a team with a plan that actually cares about winning and invests wisely for that goal.

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Masks Are No Longer Required at Coors Field Beginning May 21 | MLB.com

But “they are still encouraged for those who are not fully vaccinated.” Also, starting June 1, Coors Field will increase its capacity from 42.6 percent (21,363 people) to 70 percent (35,000).

“This announcement is a great way to kick off the summer and welcome even more fans back to LoDo and Coors Field,” said Rockies President Greg Feasel in a press release. “We want to again thank the City and County of Denver, their health officials, along with MLB for partnering with us to get to this point, as we continue to ensure that we provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our fans.”

Rockies, worst road team in baseball, set to host slumping Diamondbacks | Denver Post ($)

As Patrick Saunders points out, there is good news in that the Rockies are about to play three games at Coors Field, where they are 13-12, against the struggling Diamondbacks, who are 9-17 on the road. That seems bad until you remember the Rockies are 2-17 on the road, which is where they are headed for the following seven games (four vs. the Mets and three vs. the Pirates). The Rockies have scored one run in their last 28 innings of baseball, but Arizona has an even worse road batting average of .205 than the Rockies do (.209).

On The Farm

In his second rehab start, Kyle Freeland gave up one run on two hits with one walk and four strikeouts in six innings of work on Thursday night, helping the Isotopes win. He’s now totaled 10 innings of work with a 1.80 ERA and 0.600 WHIP. He upped his pitch count from 66 in his first start to 79 on Thursday, which could put him on track to rejoin the Rockies for his next start.

Also rehabbing from an injury, Carlos Estévez pitched a scoreless inning with two hits and three strikeouts in the sixth and Joe Harvey added a scoreless ninth, despite giving up a walk and a hit. Antonio Santos gave up a two-run homer as part of three earned runs on three hits in the eighth. At the plate, Albuquerque got home runs from Taylor Motter (3), Sam Hilliard (2), and Nick Longhi (3).

The Yard Goats struck out 17 times in the lopsided loss that found them down 5-0 after two innings. Matt Hearn got two hits for Hartford, including driving in the only run. Spokane got the win when Eddy Diaz scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth.

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 8, Oklahoma City Dodgers 4

Double-A: Somerset Patriots 11, Hartford Yard Goats 1

High-A: Spokane Indians 3, Everett AquaSox 2

Low-A: San Jose Giants 3, Fresno Grizzlies 2

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