The Blue Jays have been incredibly successful at the turnstiles the past three seasons, but that’s on account of the team being a winner and post-season contender for the first time since 1993.
There’s a great number of Blue Jay fans across Canada, but at the same time, baseball as a business is far more fragile in this country compared to hockey. That fragility can’t be taken for granted by those in charge of running this organization, and who still have very little understanding of baseball in this market.
When it comes to NHL franchises in Canada, those teams know they can get away with losing and still sell-out most nights and have strong ratings on television. Blue Jays baseball doesn’t have that same luxury when it comes to fans attending in person. It isn’t an easy task to fill a 50,000+ stadium 81 times a year, especially when the product on the field is as poor as it was this season. If Rogers and Mark Shapiro want to make the focus of Blue Jays baseball about squeezing the fans for as much money as they can, they’re in for a rude awakening.
Shapiro’s approach since becoming President of the Blue Jays in 2015 has been extremely heavy handed. Many in the organization have lost their jobs, and he’s also making it perfectly clear that business comes first, while baseball is a distant second. Firing 23 people after the team had such an off year is pretty much like saying these individuals are to blame for this miserable season. Well how about putting most of the blame on the players and coaching staff for that embarrassing 2-11 start which essentially set the tone for the entire season. Chances are if Toronto had made the post-season this year, most of those fired would likely still be employed by the Blue Jays.
Baseball is an escape for fans to forget about their fast-paced, stressful, work-oriented lives. It provides them with a chance to enjoy something that’s always come off as more of a sport than a business. It’s understandable that the Blue Jays need to remain competitive financially speaking, but there’s a way of doing so without taking full-advantage of the fans who are the only reason this league even exists.
The Blue jays are starting to lose touch with their fan base, and if they aren’t careful, they’ll learn the hard way that this market doesn’t take kindly to being played for a fool. When Toronto didn’t come close to making the post-season between 1994-2014, at least the price to attend a game was still reasonable. It’s scary to think what attendance might look like if the perfect storm of high ticket prices and a losing team are all this organization has to offer.