St. Louis Cardinals Eat More Seed Corn

Cards’ A Student program will be scaled back in ’06:

Middle schoolers will no longer be able to participate in a decades-old program that provides free Cardinals tickets to students whose grades are equivalent to an A-minus average or better. The reason cited: fewer seats in the new Busch Stadium.

The program will be limited to high schoolers. And each student will be eligible for two free tickets to a game instead of four.

I participated in this program in the middle 1980s, and the free tickets to bad games helped a Milwaukee boy overcome his automatic distaste for the Redbirds.

So let’s recap the Cardinals’ recent moves to reach out to fans:

  • Forced government funding for a new stadium, which triggered some resentment from taxpayers, particularly those outside the St. Louis area in Missouri.
  • Changed radio stations to lower wattage KTRS, diminishing the ability of many fans to pick the game up for free on the radio. The Cardinals, of course, are happy to let fans pay to listen on the Internet.
  • Scaled back a program that allows many lower income families whose children do well in school can attend ball games and that hooks fans young.

Together, these moves will diminish the fan base over the coming generation. But ball teams don’t think in terms of generations and tradition. Instead, they think of short term corporate profits and the maximum value they can receive when they sell the franchise to the next short-sighted corporation.