By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 6, 2011
The Green Bay Packers are the reigning NFL champions. In Detroit, the Lions are 4-0 for seemingly the first time since Androcles was alive, and as the NHL season opens, the Red Wings remain a perennial Stanley Cup threat. With MLB teams on the road to the World Series in both regions, the question hangs in the early fall air – which market is better equipped to top Boston as America’s reigning sports town?
In Milwaukee, as the Brewers clinched their first division championship since 1982, local shoppers used to combing the racks for cheese heads, green, and gold rushed stores for Brewers playoff merchandise. The Brewers also set a new club record for single-season ticket sales – the team drew a Miller Park record of nearly 3.1 million fans this season, good enough to rank seventh in MLB.
As with most successful franchises, the Brewers are now looking to raise prices next year. Mark Attanasio, the Brewers’ principal owner, last week said that while the team was very pleased to have drawn more than three million fans this season, it also needed to increase revenue. "That (ticket revenue) is our key revenue component and everybody is enjoying being in the playoffs," Attanasio said during a press conference at Miller Park. "But it does cost money. So we’re trying to strike a balance. We’re trying to raise prices more close to the field than far away from the field. You want to be able to have a family of four come out to the ballpark and enjoy the game."
In Detroit, where the Tigers have advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2006, retailers including Grand Rapids-based Meijer Inc. and MC Sports are reporting a strong uptick in sales. Meijer, a longtime Tigers marketing partner, has had division champion clothing in its stores since mid September, while MC Sports reports that close to 50% of its postseason apparel has been sold throughout the state and elsewhere.
While it lacks an NBA franchise, St. Louis is not exactly a lousy sports town. And with the Cardinals close series with Philadelphia, the region, according to the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, is seeing a large bump in sports tourism and fan spending revenue. Brian Hall, the commission’s chief marketing manager, told the local business journal that with every added game, the MLB playoffs will generate another $1.5 million for the St. Louis economy, putting the playoff total so far at close to $3 million when hotel nights, restaurant meals, and attraction sales are figured in.