If you and nine friends are looking for a place to hang this April, Fenway Park -- site of the longest sellout streak in major American professional sports, both active and all-time -- would love to have you. And don't worry. You can all sit together.
Sunday afternoon the Red Sox ticket office sent an email to prospective buyers, touting the new inventory available for purchase. "Tickets are on sale now for most 2013 Red Sox home games," it said. "The majority of summer games were made available yesterday along with the April, May and September dates which have been on sale since December. Get yours today!"
Get yours today if you like, but based on what's still available more than a month after those colder-weather contests went on sale, there doesn't appear to be all that much of a rush.
Opening Day ducats are available as part of a Sox Pax that includes tickets to three other games throughout the year, so there's no way to get a sense via RedSox.com's online ticketing system how many seats remain unsold for that marquee event. Though it's a different story for Game 2.
As of Tuesday night, for that April 10 tilt against Baltimore you could buy 10 consecutive seats at 11 of Fenway's 13 standard price levels -- and we only stopped at 10 in a row because that's the maximum number allowed per person. The only places you couldn't get that many successive seats were in the $52 right field lower box seats (where you could still get four in a row) and the $99 loge box (where you could still get six in a row).
There appears to be plenty of tickets available, and available for folks operating on any type of budget. Big spenders can get the premium experience by splurging for 10 seats together in the Pavilion Club, for $170 a pop, while thrifty fans can get the same stretch of tickets in the upper bleachers for $12 each -- and the rest can pretty much get what they're seeking at any pricing tier in between.
It's not as though April 10 is the outlier, either. The Sox play 22 home games (more than a quarter of their Fenway schedule) prior to May 11, and for every one of them except the opener you can still get 10 seats together. They're decent seats, too, each with a face value of at least $52.
And they're also for decent games. That first series is against the 93-win Orioles. April 15 is the ever-popular Patriots' Day matinee, against a good Tampa Bay team, but you can currently get 10 third-row seats together in the pricey Pavilion Club. The AL West champion Athletics come to town April 22-24, with kid-friendly start times of 6:30, 6:30 and 4:05 -- yet clumps of tickets priced at kid-friendly rates remain unsold.
It's not until an afternoon game against the restocked Blue Jays on May 11 that the best-available tickets for a group of 10 are standing room only -- though seats don't exactly become hard to come by from there, either. Terry Francona makes his return with the Indians on May 23, Jonathan Papelbon comes to Fenway with the Phillies on May 27, the Rangers arrive on June 4, then the super-talented Angels are in Boston on June 7, yet in spite of those sexy storylines there are swaths of the grandstands still unsold.
The secondary market suggests a lack of demand, too. At StubHub, baseball's official fan-to-fan reseller, Sox fans could get into every home game between Opening Day and June 8 for less than $38. At Ace Ticket, which is a partner of the Red Sox, the opener is the only day that tickets presently start higher than $39 until May 25. Those prices are down from most of the past decade.
By comparison, Ace's least expensive ticket to see the Broadway tour of "The Book of Mormon" at the Opera House during its three-week April run is $199. And that's a single seat. In the balcony.
Wednesday the Red Sox announced that registration had opened for those who want the chance to buy tickets to Opening Day, to see the Yankees, to sit atop the Green Monster, or to sit at a table on the Budweiser Roof Deck. So perhaps fans who had been holding out for those premier opportunities will defer to their second and third choice of dates if that doesn't work out, and many of these early season tickets will subsequently be sold.
Otherwise it looks as though a December comment by Red Sox Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy may eventually be proven right. In the middle of an offseason during which the club extended even partial season ticket holders the opportunity to take batting practice at Fenway, offered them 50 percent off at the team store, and gave them a chance to participate in a conference call with new manager John Farrell, the Worcester Telegram reported that Kennedy told a Becker College crowd that the end of Fenway's 793-game sellout streak may be imminent.
“I think there’s a good chance it may end in 2013,” he admitted then.
Now there seems a good chance it doesn't even make it to game 795.
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