Some reflections on today while still waiting for the FOX team of Matt Vasgersian and JC Pearson to give us an update on Laurence Maroney…

I think Patriots viewers have been spoiled with top broadcast teams the last few seasons, and thus when we get a lower tier crew, it really shows. Another incredibly annoying moment was the segment they spent telling us about Artrell Hawkins’ voice and totally missed a Lions penalty that resulted in a Patriots first down.

OK… the Smerlas-Ordway-Patriots Tailgate issue…

This has been an issue that has been begging for a story for a few years now, and yesterday the Boston Globe finally took a stab at writing something about it. Unfortunately it turned out to be more of an advertisement for the product.

A few things strike you while reading the Bruce Mohl article. First, Smerlas didn’t seem too upset by the whole thing, either in the article, nor on Sports Xtra last night. (In fact he gave out his 800 number.) You would think he’d be a little more animated about the loss of around 40 season tickets, yet he seemed to be taking it all in stride…why? He also isn’t losing the tickets until next season. That’s another oddity. All the ticket holders that I’ve heard of who have had their tickets revoked had them taken away immediately. Why is he keeping them through the end of the season? The only idea I have is that he has already committed them to people and perhaps there was some arrangement made where the Patriots didn’t want to take those tickets away from people who had already overpaid for them.

Another theory is that the tickets were taken away from Smerlas in an effort to show consistency with the StubHub suit that the Patriots recently filed. Having done this, the club could then make some sort of arrangement with Smerlas’ All Pro Appearances to produce some sort of “official” tailgate starting next season. (The Patriots already run their own version of a tailgate, perhaps they could merge the two.) This could explain why Smerlas doesn’t appear at all upset about the issue. However, the Globe article has Patriots spokesman Stacey James saying that the tickets will go to fans on the team’s season ticket waiting list.

The Globe article really did not seem to be an indictment of the enterprise at all, but rather just a promotional piece on a popular ex-athlete that runs a business. There are other tailgate packages out there around the stadium – Mohl doesn’t mention them.

A couple other questions I have about the article:

  • Why did Smerlas call Glenn Ordway a “working partner” in the article, while Ordway himself shied away from claiming any partnership, merely labeling himself a “marketing representative?”
  • Speaking of marketing, Smerlas (and Ordway) get plenty of free advertising on WEEI. Does Entercom approve of this? Doesn’t there seem to be some conflict of interest here? How do other advertisers, who pay big money to be on the station feel about the constant references and promotions?

It seems that this topic deserved to have a much more thorough article dedicated to it, and perhaps one will now be in the works, but

Today on the Big Show, Ordway led off joking that the Globe article was great advertising for the business. In trying to explain a little bit more about the article and the business, Ordway and Smerlas said they don’t sell tickets, they sell “packages.”

In retrospect, they may later wish that they had just not said anything.

Here’s some transcripts of what they had to say about the article and the business:

Ordway: I thought it was interesting that the interpretation when you read the piece is as if you’re reselling, you know, tickets that you own. But, my understanding, because I’m involved as you know, with you doing this…

Smerlas: We can’t get you out, you keep coming to the tents…change the location for God’s sake. We’ve been in business for 12 years, we don’t sell tickets, we sell packages.

Ordway: Correct. And the packages are part the ones that which are not what you own, not 40 something, 38 I believe it is. 38 tickets. That they are…yeah you bought them back when nobody cared…

Smerlas: “What are you buying those tickets for?”

Ordway: Obviously, they’re hot right now, BUT in the way that that tent works, really it’s the party that matters, but there are sponsors, involved, and you’ve heard us say Lincoln Park and we’ve talked about NIS, and these other companies…well, what do people think, when you’re doing a sponsorship, an all-inclusive sponsorship, it includes appearances by celebrities, by the way Stanley Morgan what a nice man! He was in the tent yesterday, obviously there are fees paid out for all of the appearance stuff.

A bunch of jokes and talking over the top of one another was following by Ordway getting into his “serious” voice once again:

Ordway: So what happens is, the sponsors that come in obviously, in the same why that the Globe would go out and sell advertising packages or EEI or (unintelligible) they would have an all inclusive package that includes, you know, advertising, and signage, which is the exact same thing that happens to sponsors of the tent, you can see signs all over the place, they get special celebrity appearances, a lot of other things that are all inclusive of all of this.

Then Steve DeOssie compared it to Fenway or Gillette luxury box that a company owns and brings their biggest customers to it as a reward. Ordway then went back to educating the listenership:

Ordway: The way the industry works, they don’t go out and just sell advertising, in the radio, TV newspaper business, just sell advertising, they sell all inclusive advertising-slash-marketing-slash-merchandising package. It’s how the industry works, and I’m not sure this writer totally understood that that’s how it is…

The various donations to charities that the tailgate enterprise gives were mentioned, and then they concluded with this description of why the prices for packages with tickets are so much higher:

Ordway: I think where there is a little bit of confusion, and that’s understandable is that on the website there is a breakdown of all the different packages..and you can explain that because you’re actually going out and buying them from sellers.

Smerlas: Well, it’s a sticker price. If you come in, you have a company, you want to come down to the tent, and I have to go out and buy tickets online or whatever to facilitate that, that is added. If I had to pay $400, $500 for a ticket then that is added into the price. So you can’t put a price at $395 and then go out and buy a ticket for $400 to give a company a function. It’s like you buy a car, the price is $35,000.

Alright…so the impression I get from this is that Smerlas buys tickets from the brokers/scalpers (online and off) and then charges the consumer whatever price he had to pay for the tickets. This is different from the actual scalpers exactly how?

And how does all of Ordway’s mumbo-jumbo about “how the industry works” have anything to do with the last point?

Ordway mentioned in that last bit about the breakdown of the different packages and the prices. Well, the website has been changed today. Before today, when you went to the homepage, the “VIP” and “Ultimate” packages had prices listed. This screenshot shows the prices listed as $625 and $750 respectively.) Now when you go to the live website, you see that he boxes for the same packages asks you to call for pricing.

I’m still amazed at how complimentary and respectful of the Patriots organization that these guys were this afternoon. Something more is involved here. Those tickets owned by Smerlas were quite an asset, now he’s had that asset taken away. Wouldn’t it make sense that there would be some sort of fight or resentment evident? If there were any shots taken, it was at Mohl and the Globe for not “understanding how the industry works.” Or maybe Smerlas just doesn’t think that his tickets will actually be taken away from him.

In my opinion, the Globe might want to follow up with a more in depth piece about how the “industry” really does work…

On a good note, Jackie MacMullan’s feature on Ty Warren yesterday was outstanding.