Dayton Dragons execs: Historic team sellout streak is threatened



Team executives ask fellow businesses to look on tickets as solid return on investment

More than two decades of Dayton Dragons home game sellouts, a professional sports record, may come to an end as the Dragons prepare to launch their 23rd season, team executives said Friday.

Those executives are appealing to local businesses to keep the record going.

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The record stands today at 1,441 sellouts. “It’s been an astounding run,” said Robert Murphy, Dragons president.

But as the Dragons’ sales team worked through ticket purchase renewals in recent weeks, they found that some commercial clients were balking. Some may be experiencing a COVID “hangover” and may be unwilling to wade into crowds again. Or some may be experiencing economic headwinds.

“We lost a considerable number of them (businesses) as part of our (season ticket) renewal process,” Murphy said.

The Dragons’ sales goal: Sell to 400 businesses four tickets for each of 16 games, or the team’s “quarter season” plan, which Eric Deutsch, the team’s executive vice president, called one of the organization’s most popular season-ticket purchase plans — a transaction that amounts to $925.

The team’s leaders hope to accomplish this by April 11, this season’s home opener.

This is not a request for charity, Deutsch and Murphy said. “We feel that tickets for companies can be a good ROI (return on investment) instrument,” Deutsch said.

The team sees games as a vehicle for thanking clients, rewarding employees and donating to local causes. “There are all these ways that we can show people how to use tickets effectively, to make sure 16 games are used for a good purpose — and it shows a good ROI,” Deutsch said.

Plus, the games are simply fun, Murphy said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you go to a game on a Tuesday night, a Wednesday night, a Friday night or a Saturday night,” he said. “All these people are different in the house that night — and that creates a certain vibe of energy and enthusiasm.”

“It’s just a really great feeling,” he added.

When businesses make the purchase, they’ll receive a gift card worth 10% back, the executives said. The first few trips to the concessions stands will be on the team. A trio of business events are also included.

Single-game ticket sales for 2023 Dragons home games started Wednesday. The Dragons’ 23rd opening day is set for 7:05 p.m. April 11 against the Great Lakes Loons at Day Air Credit Union Ballpark.

Credit: Josh Ohms Photography; The Carrs & Co Photography

Credit: Josh Ohms Photography; The Carrs & Co Photography

Tickets sales are important to the Dragons. Unlike teams in Major League Baseball and other major sports leagues, Minor League clubs cannot rely on TV ad revenues to supplement proceeds from ticket sales, concessions or in-person advertising, Dragons leaders have long said.

When the Class A minor-league team opened play in the year 2020, no one was certain whether local support would endure. But endure it did: The Dragons snapped the Portland Trail Blazers’ streak for most consecutive sellouts with 815 in July 2011. Every Dragons home game since its 2000 debut has been sold out.

Like other teams, the Dragons define “sellouts” carefully. Murphy says the Dragon’s consider a game sold out if every hard seat is committed for that game. They do have to set aside a certain number of seats for Cincinnati Reds personnel, for the families of athletes and others, and lawn sales are not counted toward sellouts.

There are more than 6,800 seats in the ballpark.

The end of the streak would not be disastrous, Murphy said. But it would be exceedingly difficult to replicate.

Nevertheless, he added: “If this streak ends, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to work hard and try to create another streak.”

Single-game tickets for 2023 regular season games are available at the Dragons box office near the main gates at Day Air or online at Fans may also call the box office at (937) 228-2287 or ticketmaster charge-by-phone at (937) 228-2323.

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