Crew COO: Season-ticket sales up despite quiet offseason

Schlesinger happy with bump after disappointing finish to 2014 season

Crew COO: Season-ticket sales up despite quiet offseason

MILWAUKEE -- Despite the Brewers' finish last season and few offseason transactions, chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger said the team is running better than 20 percent ahead in season-ticket sales compared to last year at this time.

"Without any player moves outside of the Adam Lind deal, to see this kind of bump is exciting," Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger insists he isn't surprised, since internal poll numbers suggested the majority of season seatholders were happy with their investment in 2014, despite the team's finish. Because of the Brewers' fast start -- they owned the National League's best record into July -- customers found a robust market for secondhand tickets, and very few sold tickets went unused, according to Schlesinger. Survey data suggests the experience led many to renew for '15.

Schlesinger also attributes the bump to a staffing increase -- the Brewers hired six new season-ticket representatives since the end of last season to provide more personal touch -- and an increase in the marketing budget.

"The season seatholders we talk to and who we polled, while they're obviously disappointed about last August and September, what we keep hearing again and again is that the season was still enjoyable and exciting," Schlesinger said. "I think a lot of fans see what the potential for this team is. Many of our best season ticketholders are bullish, and that's showing up in our renewals."

Last year at this time, outfielder Ryan Braun's suspension was fresh in fans' minds, but the team created some optimism by signing Matt Garza to what turned out to be a club-record free-agent contract. This year, the Brewers are coming off a late-season slide (22 losses in their final 31 games) that cost Milwaukee a spot in the postseason, and they have done very little since.

In the first 108 days since the season finale, the Brewers made one Major League acquisition -- trading with the Blue Jays for first baseman Lind.

Brewers' top home attendance
Year Attendance League Rank
2011 3,071,373 7th
2008 3,068,458 9th
2009 3,037,451 9th
2001 2,869,144 12th
2012 2,831,385 11th
2001 2,811,041 12th
2014 2,797,384 8th
2010 2,776,531 11th
2013 2,531,115 16th
1983 2,397,131 3rd

"There hasn't been a lot of activity on the player side, and if I put my marketing cap on, you do like to see some of that activity," Schlesinger said. "That always creates some buzz, and it does translate into excitement, which translates into people buying tickets. We haven't had that.

"But I'll tell you, the offseason still has to play itself out, and I know Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee's GM] & Co. are still actively trying to improve this team. I do expect some player movement and potentially some upside in ticket sales from that."

Schlesinger expects the Brewers to rank in the top half of Major League Baseball's 30 teams in full-season equivalents, the metric used to measure season ticket sales. The Brewers previously ranked in the top half in that category in 2012, when they were coming off an appearance in the NL Championship Series, and '13, but the team more typically relies on high rankings in group sales (in part because the Miller Park roof helps it draw parties from around Wisconsin) and individual tickets.

Historically, season-ticket renewals have been a harbinger of individual ticket sales, which begin each February with the Brewers' Arctic Tailgate event.

"I always tell people, 'Don't judge the team on paper in January. Judge us on Opening Day,'" Schlesinger said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.