Mets renovate high-end club in pitch to businesses

By FeaturesFOXBusiness

The New York Mets are making a pitch to businesses with a new stadium club for the team’s top ticket holders.

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The MLB franchise has undertaken a top-to-bottom renovation of Citi Field’s Delta Lounge ahead of the 2018 season, building a new Home Plate Lounge that offers free food, a private bar and direct access to the best—and most expensive—seats in the house. While the new club is designed for both personal and business use, the Mets aim to attract corporate ticket holders who want to host clients at a game and strike deals between innings.

“From a corporate entertainment perspective, what we found is a lot of companies look at sporting events as a business tool,” Kenny Koperda, the Mets’ senior director of new business development, told FOX Business. “It’s an extremely attractive option to entertain and enjoy America’s pastime.”

The Home Plate Lounge, which doubles the size of the club it replaces, is open to fans sitting in the first eight rows of sections 11 to 19. Tickets come with plenty of free perks. All food and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary, including popular items like Shake Shack (NYSE:SHAK) burgers that are delivered straight to customers’ seats. Fans can also use their tickets to get free food, snacks and drinks from concessions throughout the ballpark.

Prominent companies are among the Mets’ ticket holders behind home plate, according to Koperda, and the team has a “long line of sponsors” interested in putting their name on the renovated club. Seating is limited, but tickets are currently available. Single-game tickets are priced between $323 and $779, depending on the visiting team.

The renovated Home Plate Lounge is the Mets’ latest move to upgrade Citi Field amenities, as sports franchises seek new ways to bring fans to the stadium.

MLB attendance has declined in four of the last five seasons. The league’s 30 teams reported combined attendance of 72.67 million in 2017, a 0.7% drop versus the prior season and the lowest figure since 2003, according to the Sports Business Journal. The Mets averaged 30,757 fans per game at Citi Field, above the league average but down 11.8% compared to 2016 when the team reached the postseason. In the NFL, attendance fell nearly 3% year-over-year during the 2017 regular season. That marked the league’s worst attendance since 2011, partly driven by the Chargers’ move to a temporary home stadium in Los Angeles.

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Harold Kaufman, executive director of communications for the Mets, noted that teams have to innovate because the game-day experience that fans get at home has drastically improved. It’s even more challenging for baseball franchises, he said, since most games are on weekdays.

The Mets have added new concessions in recent seasons including one from DO, a New York City-based cookie dough shop. In 2012, the Mets built a shorter fence in left field, creating a new seating section that accommodates parties of up to 102 people.

“As an organization we always have our eyes peeled to build upon the fan experience,” Koperda said.

Construction of the Home Plate Lounge is scheduled to be completed before Opening Day on March 29, when the Mets will host the St. Louis Cardinals.

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