Friday, September 23, 2011

GTOG Investigates: Ted Leonsis's War on Counting?

By Finesse

It's a slow news day so let's do precisely what Ted Leonsis laments: Generate Pixels. Clicks. Page Views. Noise.

Hair gel.
On Tuesday, September 20th, the Washington Capitals hosted the Nashville Predators in their preseason debut at 1st Mariner Arena in something called the "Baltimore Hockey Classic."  The Caps lost 2-0.  It was the first professional ice hockey game in Baltimore since 1997.

But who went?  More importantly, how many people went?  And even more importantly, was it a sellout?

According to the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and the No Idea Where Herald-Mail, there was an announced crowd of 11,082.  That's consistency.

But what isn't consistent is the discussion of whether this crowd was a sellout crowd, and even Ted Leonsis, a man who nitpicks like no other, seems confused.  Let's examine.

In an absolutely Classic Ted post recapping the game, Leonsis writes:
Game is done; we lived and we learned. The fans had a great time; at a near sold out arena; the people in Baltimore were really terrific to work with; the ice could have been better as noted in this article. But - no complaints - we move on and head now into our season; thanks for the support. Go Caps!
[Side note: Ted is so good at complaining while saying that he isn't complaining, that he reversed the order from the usual "no complaints, but" to "[complaint], but no complaints."  Ted, you probably threw some people off the scent with that, but not GTOG].

However, in a post this morning titled "Sell Out," Ted ups the stakes, writing:
We sell out preseason games in Baltimore.
Hmmm.  So on September 21st the game was a "near" sellout, but on September 23rd, the game was a "sell out?"  Interesting pivot there, Ted, so let's investigate further.

- The Washington Post recap mentions the announced crowd of 11,082, but does not indicate whether that is a sellout.  Great work!

- The Hagerstown Herald-Mail, also known as the Those Outlets On The Way To Breezewood Herald-Mail, reports "a sellout crowd of an announced 11,082 fans." [This is the same story that appeared in the Baltimore Sun]. Put one in the box for Ted.

But not so fast.

- The Associated Press story on the Caps' own website reports, "the game drew a near-sellout crowd of 11,082 - even though ticket prices ranged from $34 to $147." (Fan friendly pricing, Ted!)

- The Predators/Capitals summary from lists attendance at the following: "A-11,082 (11,286)." For the uninitiated, the number in the parentheses is the capacity. As Shakespeare once wrote, "11,082 doth not equal 11,286."

- The 1st Mariner Arena Wikipedia page lists the capacity attendance for hockey as 11,286.  Obviously Wikipedia is not an unimpeachable source, but we're also pretty sure that it didn't change that number between September 21st and September 23rd.  Oh, and it matches the number from

- The webpage, albeit not updated since June 23rd, says "First Mariner Arena holds a little more than 12,000 fans for hockey. Promoters expect the game to sell out by July." I believe it was Abraham who said, "Thou shalt not equate 11,082 with a little more than 12,000."

Coached the Baltimore Clippers in 1971-72.
- Still stuck on the Herald-Mail article?  Just read further where it says, "There were a number of empty seats, but both curious Charm City sports fans and die-hard puck lovers crowded the concourse before the event."  This fits with eyewitness accounts describing "hundreds" of empty seats, and even entire sections closed off.

- Of course, empty seats doesn't mean that those seats weren't sold ... but to whom were they sold?  Would hundreds of people buy tickets to a once-every-14-years event and then not go?  Maybe.  Or would an owner who wanted his game to be "sold out" purchase unsold tickets so that he could say it was a sellout?  Maybe.

Here's the bottom line.  We don't really know whether this was a "sellout." Maybe it was.  But even Ted seems like he doesn't know for sure.  So why would he write "We sell out preseason games in Baltimore?"  Pixels? Clicks? Page views? Ticket sales?

Not that we're complaining.

Thank you.


  1. Ted's forte is marketing. From putting PR folks in the crowd to get people to start shouting 'Red' during the national anthem, to pretending that selling large blocks of tickets to brokers counts toward their "sellout" streak, I have to hand it to him. Perhaps he learned the latter one from Dan Snyder?

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