Online tickets sold in record numbers

Online tickets sold in record numbers

Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced on Monday that it has sold a record 20 million tickets through MLB.com and the 30 club sites -- the sixth consecutive annual record and the first time it has reached that milestone.

When Rob Rohm heard that news, he was not surprised. The Orange, Calif., resident and his family are among the eager contributors to the 2006 total, and he is one of several "case studies" who have plenty of advice for others on how and why to order tickets online as a furious final month of the regular season approaches.

"I've used the MLB online ticketing and love the convenience," said Rohm, an Angels fan. "I've used the Ticketfast option a few times and printed my tickets at home, which is very convenient. I do keep all of my ticket stubs, so I usually tend to have the tickets sent to me or have the tickets issued at will call.

"This summer, I've taken my family on a California stadium tour. I used the team sites to buy tickets when they initially went on sale during the spring. It was very convenient and I'm sure I wouldn't have received such good seats at face value had I waited to buy them."

The online experience provides an easy, efficient and effective way for baseball fans to shop for tickets. At this time, the majority of team sites provide a view of the field from the specific seats a fan is considering purchasing. In addition, all 30 teams now offer a print-at-home ticket service, eliminating the need for delivery or standing in line at the stadium will-call windows. More high-tech ticketing options are on the way.

Rohm -- along with wife Lucy, daughter Raquel and son Christian -- began their "tour" with their annual visit to the Angels' home opener, a mile away from their house. On June 18, online ticketing made possible a June 18 Father's Day visit to the Dodgers' game at Oakland. "We had great seats in the shade for this day game on the field level," Rob said. "It was a great way to spend Father's Day with my family and the A's even let the dads run the bases on the field after the game with the kids. I had a blast.

"The following day, June 19, we saw the Angels vs. the Giants in Interleague Play at AT&T Park in San Francisco -- a 2002 World Series rematch. We almost witnessed history as the Giants were four outs away from no-hitting the Angels.

"Our fourth stop took us to Dodger Stadium on Aug. 13. It was a great matchup of Greg Maddux vs. Jason Schmidt. They each pitched eight scoreless innings and the Dodgers won in the 10th inning with a walk-off homer by Russell Martin. Our final tour stop will be San Diego. I haven't purchased the tickets yet, but I will be utilizing Padres.com to get the tickets."

PETCO Park is like so many other places that make it perfectly clear why people rush to order their Major League tickets online. The park is the home of the defending National League West champs, and Padres fans there are bracing for playoff-race drama again right down to the wire.

With more than half of baseball again bunched into playoff-chase mode headed toward that final month, one look at any contender's remaining schedule makes online ticketing all the more inviting. There's the Red Sox-Yankees rematch coming to the Bronx from Sept. 15-17. Or the Sept. 18-20 series in Houston against the Reds. Just imagine the possibilities with those final three games of the season in Minnesota between the White Sox and the Twins. Baseball in October is always a tough ticket, and for many fans the final month could mean a last chance to get a choice seat for the races.

A trip to the ballpark is about more than the playoff implications, though. It isn't merely watching the best players in the world in-person, or seeing the prospects who are sure to come up starting on Sept. 1. It's the hot dogs -- or in PETCO's case, maybe the fish tacos. It's seeing the beautiful emerald expanse unfold before your eyes as you walk through from the concourse out to the seats. It's the unique ballpark features, whether it's PETCO's beach area or Western Metal Supply Company building that doubles as the left-field foul pole. It's the big scoreboard, and maybe most of all, it's the shared experience of being right there with tens of thousands of your loudest friends.

All around the Majors, the reason to order a ticket online is unique to that place. And for Lee Street of Portland, Ore., the reasons to order tickets through MLB.com this year have been especially unique.

"As you're aware, we don't have a pro team here in Oregon -- a nice Triple-A franchise, though -- so I have to travel to watch Major League games. More often than not, I go to Mariners games, but being a Houston boy and a big Astros -- and Roger Clemens -- fan, I try to catch them when they get close enough for me to easily catch a flight.

"So far this year, I've bought tickets on MLB sites twice. First, for the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix, through MLB.com. The second time, I bought tickets at astros.com for Clemens' return in Houston, via their ticket exchange program that allows their season ticket-holding fans an opportunity to sell their unneeded tickets."

Larry Pomerantz of Tampa, Fla., is among the recent converts to the online ticketing revolution of this decade. He bought tickets to Tampa Bay's July 5 home game against the Red Sox, through the Devil Rays' site, and his report for anyone considering doing this for the first time is: "The system worked well and the printing of the tickets went smoothly.

"As I am old school -- middle-aged -- I was sure the tickets would be a problem, but no problem at all," Pomerantz said in an e-mail to MLB.com. "Two or three days later, I was contacted by the Rays organization, which right up front said they were calling because I had recently purchased tickets. They offered me a seven-game package at very low prices for great seats. I took the package and have seen Boston, Cleveland and Anaheim with several Yankees games to wrap up the year. So the online experience worked well for me.

"The Rays won, so it stands out in memory. The seats were fine. Second level in the front. The seats they offered me in the package are great. About the 10th row, ground level, behind home dugout."

That must-have seat is the reason that more fans than ever continue to order their Major League tickets right here, from the convenience of their home or wherever they are using a computer. The Rohm family's California stadium tour will continue on to San Diego soon thanks to this technology, and the trend around MLB continues ever upward at an annual record pace, with everything covered except the outcome of the game itself.

That one's up to the players.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.