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The once-glorious Blue Jays are playing to the smallest crowds in decades.
Before the start of an afternoon game, Marcel the scalper explained the realities of supply and demand.
At the Blue Jays’ home opener April 12, when a capacity crowd jammed the Rogers Centre, he was selling $14 nosebleed tickets for $100 each. Ten home games later, with fans as rare as a Jays .300 hitter, he struggled to unload tickets for almost half their price.
“Upper levels, we’re selling them for 10 bucks each,” said Marcel, a stocky 30-something doing his thing at the afternoon game Wednesday. “Behind the plate we’re selling them for, like, 40 or 50 bucks instead of $75.”
He hasn’t seen it this bad in his 10-year career.
“I’m going home with blocks of tickets I can’t sell — 20 tickets, 40 tickets,” he said.
“It’s supply and demand,” he added. “We make all our money on the first day and then the rest of the year we’re starving.”
“The brain trust here have got to figure out what they’re doing.”
Not many on the demand side will pity Marcel. But he could take comfort in the fact that the “brain trust” feels his pain.
“When the scalpers don’t make money, then you know you’ve got a problem,” said Paul Beeston, president and CEO of the Blue Jays.
Beeston, 64, headed the team back in the glory days, before he became president of Major League Baseball in New York. He came back in 2008.
In his office, with his feet up on the desk, an unlit cigar in his mouth and a view of Lake Ontario, the irrepressible Beeston vows to recreate the magic of the early 1990s.
His plan for success is obvious: Put a winning team on the field. That will take good scouting, developing players fans can identify with, and then buying top free agents to fill in the gaps. He says the owner — Rogers Communications, which also owns the stadium and the profitable Rogers Sportsnet cable TV channel — are willing to give it time.
“It’s going to require a little patience,” said Beeston, who won’t say for how long. “But at the very end of it you’re going to be in a position where you could sit back and say you watched this team grow.”
Still, even he confesses to moments of sacrilegious doubt — “Is baseball dead in Toronto? I don’t know if baseball’s dead in Toronto.”