When it comes to ticket sales, the Phillies are in a bit of a slump.
For the second season running, the Phils are heading toward opening day at home (April 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers) with seats still to fill. And the team - although still a league leader - is looking at a significant drop in season-ticket sales, as well.
"Our sales numbers are down," said John Weber, the Phillies' vice president of sales and ticket operations. "Last year, we had about 24,000 season-ticket holders. We are going to have between 18 [thousand] and 19,000 this year, which still ranks us in the top of baseball. It is a very solid number, but not where we have been."
None of which necessarily is surprising, given the team's failure to make the playoffs the last two seasons.
"Obviously, things are a lot different than they have been in the past," Weber said. "The ticket climate is different than three or four years ago."
The numbers are particularly glaring in light of the Phillies' success since moving to Citizens Bank Park in 2004. Propelled by great teams and a new, state-of-the-art ballpark, the club has been one of baseball's attendance standouts.
The Phillies enjoyed a 257-game sellout streak that ended in 2012. Even with a slip in sales, the ball club ended last season with more than three million in attendance - the seventh year in a row it topped that magic number. Overall, the Phils ranked seventh out of 30 major-league teams.
Three million might be more of a stretch this year, if early trends are any indication.
Though, Weber said, "not many, a couple thousand," tickets were available for the home opener, demand on the secondary market - that is, StubHub - shows worrying signs of weakness.
An analysis by SeatGeek, a website that provides consumers price and availability information about tickets on the secondary market, found that the demand - and hence, price - for an opening-day ticket has been falling since 2011.
That year, fans paid an average of $149 per ticket (fifth-highest in major-league baseball) to see the Phillies play the Houston Astros. The figure fell to $135 when the Phils opened against the Florida Marlins in 2012. Last year, with the Kansas City Royals in town, the price was $120.
The average tab, on the secondary market, to be at Citizens Bank Park on April 7 is $85, a 29 percent drop from 2013. In terms of price, that ranks the Phils' 18th in major-league baseball.
Of course, as they say in the investment business, past performance does not guarantee future results. A good run, and empty seats will hardly be a concern.
"This is what I love about this business: Every year is different," Weber said. "Some years, you are signing a Cliff Lee. Other years, well, we believe we are going to be good. We are looking forward to the beginning of the season."
BY THE NUMBERS
Average ticket price on secondary markets for the Phillies home opener in 2011, the fifth-highest in major-league baseball.
Average in 2014, 18th-highest in major-league baseball.