Fans who plan ahead this baseball season will get a price break from the Salem Red Sox.
Responding to a startling attendance decline in 2012, the Sox will offer $2 discounts on all general admission and box seat tickets purchased in advance this season, general manager Todd Stephenson said Tuesday.
General admission tickets purchased online, by phone or at Salem Memorial Ballpark at least one day before the game will cost $6. Walk-up GA tickets will be $8 – the same price they were last year.
Box seats can be purchased for $8 in advance or $10 the day of the game. They were $10 any time last year.
The goal, Stephenson said, is twofold: Offer fans a more economical option and reduce the effect of threatening weather on attendance.
“If we depend [solely] on walk-up crowds, it’s just hard,” Stephenson said. “If there’s a chance of rain, you may call an audible and not want to come. But if you already have a ticket and there’s a chance of rain, you’re coming.
“Many times, the outlook might not look great at 3:30, but at 7:05 it’s beautiful, and it’s a great night at the ballpark.”
If games do get postponed, fans can exchange tickets for any future contest.
Salem averaged 2,628 fans per game last season — second-to-last in the Carolina League behind Lynchburg (2,426). That figure was 801 fans fewer than the average in 2011 and the lowest average since the franchise started playing at Salem Memorial Ballpark full time in 1996.
At the end of last season, Stephenson cited bad weather as a major factor – the derecho, for example, hit during what should have been a boom time for attendance – but pledged that the club would consider “dramatic changes” to try to boost attendance.
“We just have to get in touch with our fans,” Stephenson said Tuesday, “and look at the economy and make it even more affordable and more enticing for them to purchase in advance to come out.”
Reserved seats have been eliminated this year, with all seats in the lower deck being classified as either box or premium. So a ticket for one of last year’s reserved seats, which cost $9 then, will cost either $8 or $10 depending on when it’s purchased.
Premium seats, which include the sections closest to home plate and feature food and beverage service, will cost $10 or $12 depending on whether they’re purchased in advance. They were $11 last year.
“We just felt we had too many price points,” Stephenson said. “We wanted to simplify the structure. Going from five price points to three price points we think was easiest for the consumer.”
Single-game tickets, which go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday, can be purchased by calling 389-3333 or by visiting salemsox.com or the stadium box office.
Stephenson also said there would be some new concession offerings this year. The first base line will feature “Swine Drive Deli Dogs” – a specialty hot dog stand. On the third base line, “The Roman Umpire” will serve pizza and Italian-style subs. The grill behind the concourse will now be called the “Bull & Bones Grill.”
The Red Sox open the season on the road April 5 and will play their first game at Salem Memorial Ballpark at 7:05 p.m. April 12 against Myrtle Beach.