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Sam Kennedy on K&C reveals Red Sox ratings are up 20 percent this season

Alex Reimer
April 05, 2018 - 10:33 am

The Red Sox’ likability and popularity have been constant conversations around the team for the last couple of years. Even though the 2018 season is just one-week old, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy says there are already signs fans are embracing this year’s club.

In an interview Thursday with “Kirk & Callahan” from Fenway Park, Kennedy revealed NESN ratings for Red Sox games are up 20 percent compared to last season. While it’s a small sample size, those numbers indicate there’s a thirst to see the Red Sox play.

“It’s only six games. But it is interesting that people have tuned in early, and hopefully we can sustain that over the next couple of weeks,” Kennedy said. 

The Red Sox aren’t having the same level of early season success at the box office, with ticket sales down 6.5 percent compared to 2017. But given today’s climate, Kennedy says he isn’t worried about the drop –– yet.

“There’s a lot of competition in the market,” he explained. “ The Celtics, Bruins and the Patriots are doing well. I think it’s the advent of the secondary market making tickets easier to buy at the last minute. There’s not as much urgency to buy in December, January, February. If you want to go to a game, you know you can buy it right on your phone as you get closer to the game. So we’re 6 percent down total tickets sold, but we still sold 2.2 million tickets. If you go to a Major League Baseball meeting, they’ll basically laugh at you and say, ‘You think that’s a problem?’”

When asked directly about whether he thinks the additions of J.D. Martinez and Alex Cora have made the team more likable, Kennedy said it’s up to the fans to determine that.

“I think if we do the right things and we play competitive baseball, the fans will decide,” he said. “I do think Alex Cora has brought great energy and great enthusiasm. We have a great staff. And you’re also seeing the emergence of these young exciting players like Raffi Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie (Betts) and Xander (Bogaerts). These guys are an exciting young group of home grown players who have been developed in our system and playing at a high level. Coming off a 93-win season, there’s a lot to be excited about with the 2018 Red Sox. If we can build on that division championship last year, and hopefully take that next step, you know our fans are going to be there and support us.”

Off the field, the Red Sox are immersed in the debate about changing the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street. In addition to the Yawkey Foundation’s expected opposition, some ex-players, such as pitcher Jim Lonborg, have also voiced concerns. Kennedy explained the organization wants to expunge Yawkey Way in an effort to look towards the future.

“This is about the future of the Red Sox. We’re trying to do what we’ve done, which is walk the walk over 17 years and trying to make Fenway Park as inclusive, open and welcoming as we possibly can,” he said. “It is very clear we are not trying to indict the great work of the Yawkey Foundation. What we're trying to do is establish the fact that we want the name on the front door of Fenway Park to be something other than a symbol of the time when we weren't as inclusive as we are today. And we want to move forward. This is about the next 20 and 30 years of the Red Sox.”