Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stan Kasten Media Availability

After all the dignitaries stated their praise concerning the Construction Process of New Nationals Park, Team President Stan Kasten met with the assembled media behind home plate--in The Diamond Club Seating Section to take questions about The Seat Relocation Process, Ticket Sales and The New Ballpark.

Here is that Press Availability, word for word--in its entirety--as Mr. Kasten discussed Seat Relocation and Ticket Sales.

Mr. Kasten's comments are always in quotes. Reporter Questions Clearly Marked and Not In Quotes. Here we go.

“I wanted to get you guys down here to talk a little about the Stadium and The Seat Relocation Process. As you know, the much-anticipated Seat Relocations will go out this week. Many of you that are around us know the care put into that (process). To refresh your memory, we sent out a very detailed brochure last spring—including a questionnaire for all of our existing Season Ticket Holders—to ask them what their preferences would be. We gave them the prices and asked them to make selections for where they would like to sit in the new stadium. And, everyone was asked to give us the their top three choices.”

“I have very happy to report that 90% got one of their TOP THREE Choices. In fact, a full 50% got their top choice of sections. Also, to refresh your memory, the way the priorities were lined up for that. The First Priority was Your Year First Being A Season Ticket Holder. Class of ’05 came first, then ’06 and ’07. And, by the way—the only people not getting their seat locations yet is the class of ’08. They will get their selection in about four weeks. Everyone else will be getting their selection—starting in priority with the Class of ’05. The Next Priority would be the type of Ticket Holder you were. Dugout Level, Terrace Level, etc. The Next Priority would be the size of the plan you had—Full Season, Half Season, Partial. Then, if there was still a tie after that—the last tie breaker was Date & Time you actually bought your first seat (at RFK).’

“Now, I want to point out what is NOT A BASIS for determining your seat. This is important too. Something that was NOT used was Number of Seats you have. People have been confused about this. If you bought four seats in the stadium, you didn’t get a higher priority over someone who had two seats. And, another thing that was not a factor—was where you sat in RFK Stadium. And, that has been a source of confusion. Let me explain that. The reason we couldn’t use where you sat at RFK Stadium is because this (New) stadium is so vastly different from RFK. The Geometry here (at New Nationals Park) is different in a hundred ways. And, ALL OF THEM GOOD!”

“First of all—as you can see—we are now standing in The Diamond Club Section. These seats in front of us are The Presidents Seats. That’s 2500 Seats that people were sitting at RFK that are not in the General Seating here (at New Nationals Park). So, all of those people who DID NOT chose to be in Diamond or Presidents—have to be relocated. And obviously, virtually ALL OF THEM---are ’05. Virtually ALL OF THEM are Full Season Packages--All of them. So, they had HIGH PRIORITY and had to move out. That’s number one.”

“But Number Two—the other differences are again—almost all positive—this (New Nationals Park) is a Baseball Stadium. It is not a round multi-purpose facility. The Benefits to that are Huge as you can see. That’s why I want all of you to stand here (right behind Home Plate looking toward Centerfield). The Proximity to the field and sightlines are so vastly superior to anything we have ever had in this city. It really is great to just stand here and look at that (view). For instance, the Front Row behind the Dugouts on each side is 16 Feet Closer to the field than those (same) seats at RFK. The back half of those sections are 23 Feet closer because there is no aisle in the middle (RFK Walkway around the lower bowl). The Sections curve into the field. So, take a look down the lines—as far down as you want to go. Look how close you are to the game. You are right there, even though you are down by the foul pole. You are right on top of the game.”

Now, lets look up behind us at The Club Level. The Club Level is better and closer. I think closer, but certainly better than the downstairs 300 (Terrace View) Seats at RFK. It’s just a FANTASTIC SEAT!! They (Club Level) have just superb sightlines. Everyone, no matter what your preference, no matter what you ended up with—you are going to find out, once you are here—how much of an improvement this all is.”

(Question—Stan, when your Relocation Letter is received in the mail—do ticket holders have any right of refusal? Say you wanted to get real close, but you couldn’t get that—what can you do?)

“Well, so far—all we have are deposits. That’s why we don’t talk about Season Tickets. Until Opening Day—I really don’t know what we have. So far—all we have are deposits. Everyone will have a chance, I guess, to decline. I don’t expect a lot of that. We do have a Full Time Service Staff ready. We know there will be many questions that people are going to have. Some people, once they get their seat—may want to choose another location. I will say this. Right now—we are still in discussion for all our Premium Seating, Presidents, Diamond Club and Suites. Those are all multi-year contracts. I do expect all of it to be gone by Opening Day. It’s not all yet gone. And, so people who still want to Op-In, maybe they weren’t happy or they want to go in with a partner and get an improved seat—that option is still available.”

“Down the lines—we will be pretty much sold out. Until the bend (the seating sections in the right and left field corners), we still have Full Season Ticket Locations past that bend downstairs. But, we don’t have halves or partials—except in the outfield. Upstairs, The Club Level is already Completely Sold Out. Behind the plate upstairs—we will have Full Seasons still available, behind the plate—upstairs. And, of course many great locations for halves and partials.’

“Now, I said the information is all going out this week. We have a brand new team of sales people. This is their first week on the job. We are having a series of advertisements and pitches for the various seats we have for sale. We are going out and starting that this week. So, our sales season really begins RIGHT NOW. NOW. This is where everything gets really ramped up. Everything we have been doing now is really taking deposits. Our Sales will get started this week.”

(Question—Stan, Clearly—everything in the lower deck all 21,000 seats are closer—dramatically. In the Upper Deck, some seem closer---others further. I can’t figure out. Is the 30,000 or 35,000th Best Seat also better?)

“I don’t know. I can get you that answer. I will tell you this though. Of our 46,000 seats at RFK—about 10,000 of them were upstairs in the outfield. We don’t have any of those here in this park. By definition, every seat in this ballpark is just closer.”

(Chartese Burnett—Washington Nationals Director of Communications leans in to tell Mr. Kasten all the high seats are closer than RFK Stadium)

“OK—all the Upper Deck Seating here are closer than any of the Upper Deck Seats at RFK. I have just been given that answer.”

(Question—Stan, how is that possible. Its always been said the Club Seats force the Upper Deck further back.)

“Out there (pointing toward the right field baseline stands), we don’t have Club Seats.”

(Question—And, that was a decision [to not have Club Seats out there] because in most parks, Club Seats do go down the lines?)

“I have to give credit for that to my predecessor (Tony Taveres). We had nothing to do with the design. But, yes I would say that is correct. We fought mightily against putting The Media all the way up (Pointing at the Press Box High in the sky behind home plate—everyone chuckling). We had NO CHOICE— (‘A losing battle’ states Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post). Yes, that's right, like many battles I have rung.” (Everyone Laughing)

(Question—Stan, what portion of your first season—season ticket holders—did go through with the relocation?)

“I don’t have that. It was in the 80’s (Percentile). It was a Big, Big Number. People who are still here from ’05 last year—obviously they are here to continue.”

(Question—And, last years ticket base—was there a large carryover as well)

“Yes, 95%--a really high number.”

(Question—Stan, what about Single Game Stuff. For those that don’t have Season Plans?)

“Single Game Tickets will go on sale in mid to late February is my guess. I don’t have a specific day. But, probably be the last week of February is what I am thinking.’

(Question—And do you know, regardless of that March 30th game—when you will the announce regular season schedule?)

“We have been asked not to (presumably by MLB). Its no secret we would like that game (Sunday Night, March 30th on ESPN—Season Opener). But, I have to tell you—just for that one change to happen, there has to be jumps and triple jumps. There is also going to be an announcement soon that some Major League Teams are going to open (their seasons) out of the country—and that is forcing other teams to move around. There may be a Foreign Spring Training Trip for ANOTHER TEAM (not The Nationals). So, everything has a domino effect. We have included a Tentative Schedule with our invoices, although I hated to do it—because Tentative Schedules just don’t help you any—but we really had no choice.”

(Question—Stan, because the Club Seats do not wrap around all the entire stadium, it opens up the possibility that those sections that were Club Seat Level in leftfield or rightfield in other Stadiums are comparable to regular admission in this stadium—right?)

“No question about it. But, I am reluctant to ever use the word—comparable. That word will get me in trouble. It’s just so different when you talk about RFK, or other Stadiums. I am sure that observation is correct though.”

(Question—Stan, how many seat assignments have you made in the new ballpark?)

“I am sure it’s at least the number we had last season (at RFK) which was 15,000. We have added quite a bit more—but I don’t have that exact figure.”

(Question—When you said Single Game Tickets sometime in February—how about Single Game Tickets for Opening Day or the O’s Exhibition Game?)

“Well, there are no tickets available for The O’s Exhibition Game. They will not be available for sale. Those will be free and only available to Season Ticket Holders and for whatever else we can do for The City, The Kids and Our Construction Workers—things like that. That game is a Dress Rehearsal. We would have liked an earlier date, but it’s going to be tough just to push for that date (considering the continuing construction). “

(Question—Will Orioles Season Ticket Holders get a shot at that exhibition game?)

“No. But, we DO HAVE TICKETS AVAILABLE TO THEM TO BECOME NATS SEASON TICKET HOLDERS!! (Everyone Laughing—you could tell Mr. Kasten was pleased with that comment). AT ATTRACTIVE RATES!!"

(Question—But what about Opening Day Tickets?)

“I am sure those tickets will go on sale at the same time as all other single games. I assume.”

(Question—Stan, do you have a sense of when they [MLB] will decide on Opening Day?)

“Soon, is what I have been told.

(Question—And how does that affect your preparations for Opening Day?)

“We are ready to go, either way. That date would be preferable (March 30th) for a host of reasons. We are ready either way.”

(Question—you feel confident you can get in here on that date and everything will be ready to go?)

“Yes, no question.”

(Question—Stan, do you find more folks are spreading their packages among more people to defray costs?)

“We haven’t found that. We have not found too much of that yet. But, I am sure some of that will go on. And, I think those people who may Op-In for Presidents or Diamonds may avail themselves of that. We certainly will facilitate that if we can help. But no, there has not been too much of that yet.”

(Question—Stan, do you ever imagine seeing packages of less than 20 Games? I think The Orioles have a 13 Gamer?)

“It could happen. I certainly don’t expect so during the ’08 Season. In the future, I couldn’t tell you right now.”

(Question—what will determine that possibility?)

“Demand. We would like to sell as many tickets as possible to as many patrons—that’s our goal.”

That concludes this portion of Stan Kasten's Media Availability from this morning at New Nationals Park. As always--the goal is to get out as much information as possible--so everyone can make their very own opinions--without the editorial slant of any other reporter. Hopefully, you find Mr. Kasten's comments helpful to your Game Ticket Situation with Our Washington Nationals.


Anonymous said...

WOW. What a great story. I believe you scooped everybody on this!!! -Curly's Mom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great coverage. SBF and JD have it covered like a blanket.

Anonymous said...

Nobody does it better!
And the cameo of the African Queen, too.

Anonymous said...

Great work - thanks. A couple questions from your unique observation point:
- It looks like Stan got his relocation priority flipped around slightly in his comments. He said your RFK seat category was 2nd priority, and your full/half/partial plan size was 3rd, but the relocation guide has them in the other order. I assume he was speaking off the cuff and just mis-spoke.

- I'm having a hard time understanding the comment that they are sold out down the lines until the bend; what is the bend? section 114/131 past the dugout? or section 110/135 mid-way down the OF lines?

- I can believe that the front row seats are filled in the relocation process; certainly the dugout boxes. The numbers don't seem to add up if the team is implying that the IF Boxes and Baseline Reserved sections (down the base lines, but behind the front sections) are "sold out" (in relocation). The question is - are there still seats in the IF Box and Baseline Reserved for relocators to move around into and/or new season ticket holders to move into?

- Trying to get an idea of how much overhang there is of the club/mezzanine seating over the main bowl seating. This will help determine how close the upper deck has been pulled towards the field. Drawings look like only about 3 rows of overhang, but some photos over time might indicate up to 6 rows of overhang. Any help on this from your observations?

- Will new ticket plans have the same restrictions on full vs half/partial plans, or MORE restriction? Stan's comments seemed to indicate that IF Gallery would be full season only, and down the lines would be full season only (understanding that Baseline boxes do have that restriction, but what about the baseline reserved?

- Any idea what they plan to do with the Batter's eye boxes that I read they were going to "move"?

- Does the Section 320 gang hope to stay together in the new park?

Thanks for the good observations, great photos, and follow-up.


Screech's Best Friend said...

Glenn--I will answer what I know for sure.

Yes--he just mis-spoke off the cuff.

Down each baseline there is a section near each foul pole--that twists toward the pitchers mound--decidedly. Those Two Sections down each line would be 108, 109, 135 & 136. Those are the sections that he mentioned as not currently sold out.

The Batters Eye Boxes were taken off because they ended up facing well away from the pitchers mound. Not good seats. Not sure exactly where they were moved too--if at all.

The Club Level has maybe 3 rows Clear of The Above Overhang. The Infield Gallery Above that Suite Level actually reaches out to nearly the exact same point as The Club and Suite Level Below it--bringing those Gallery Seats nearly as close to the field from each dugout as Club Level--but obviously higher. This is what gives the Upper Seats between the foul lines this High Chair Back Feel.

Infield Gallery is not restricted to Full Season Ticket Holders. I followed up on this in the comment area the other day. Mr. Kasten said that both Full and Partial Plans are available there. But, Partial Plans are sectioned off from Full Plans. But, Mr. Kasten clearly told me there are no NEW RESTRICTIONS for anybody looking to buy Season Tickets Now. What was stated before in the relocation brochure--will continue forward into 2008 for anybody new.

Yes--many of us in Section 320 are hoping to stay together. The Problem has been price point. Obviously--all of us need to pony up to $22 more per game--just to stay close to the field. For some--that's an understandable cost issue that needs to be addressed. At this point--there might be some breakup-sorry to say.

But, I am keeping my fingers crossed. We had such a WONDERFUL SECTION over the past few years.

Hope some of that helps clarify some issues.

An Briosca Mor said...

"Infield Gallery is not restricted to Full Season Ticket Holders. I followed up on this in the comment area the other day. Mr. Kasten said that both Full and Partial Plans are available there. But, Partial Plans are sectioned off from Full Plans."

Hmmm. I had my 20-game seat in RFK at the end of a row in Section 419, literally right behind the plate. Yet the seats right next to me in my row were full-season plan seats that had been divvied up among a group. I never knew who would be next to me at any given game. So, for Nationals Park I made my first choice the Infield Gallery since that section seemed to be a pretty close approximation of where I was in RFK, including on price. But I guess if they're now gonna segregate partial-plan folks like me from the full-season plan folks, I probably won't end up behind the plate as I was in RFK. I'll be further down the baseline, a bit of a bummer. But you know what? If I get bumped to the far edge of Infield Gallery I could actually end up in Section 320! Does the blog convey, SBF?

Anonymous said...

Excellent clarifying comments.

Notification of seat assignments will be interesting.



Screech's Best Friend said...

ABM--Section 320 at New Nationals Park is Infield Gallery. Its going to be interesting who ends up there. Most likely, not many from RFK.

Anonymous said...

" At sometime on Friday, "my Nationals Tickets" will be live online."

Is this going to happen or is it just another on of the Nats empty predictions......Nick Johnson will be back by June and the tickets will be in your hands any day now....we sent them overnight last week.....

Anonymous said...

For a fan who lives as far from DC as I do, I really appreciate the scoop, SBF! It's great to see inside the new stadium. Say hi to the Queen for me.
-T. Reeb, Toronto

Anonymous said...

Just checked the My Nationals Tickets page and the new seat assignments are online! I went from 20 Game Plan Section 407 Row 4 in RFK to Section 218 Row H in the new Park. Pretty good seats, I think, but I'll be paying $29 instead of $15 last year! Are they worth the extra cost compared to other cheaper seats in the new stadium? I don't know. But kudos to the Nats for getting the info online and ontime and pretty much matching up my seat locations from the last three years to the new stadium.

Screech's Best Friend said...

John Ramsey--Section 218 is Club Level. Those Seats are $55 per game--not $29. That's a GREAT SEAT!! The View from Club Level is Fabulous! Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

I know I am commenting on an article posted almost three weeks ago, but I just noticed that I needed to make a correction on a comment I made. No, I did not move from 20 Game Plan RFK Sec. 407 to 20 Game Plan NewPark Sec. 218. I should have written 231, not 218. There are no 20 Game Plan tickets in section 218. Sorry for the error.