CINCINNATI -- Snow currently blankets the playing field at Great American Ball Park, but fans were still looking for seats -- the exact seats that they might occupy as season-ticket holders in 2014.
Sunday not only marked the end of the annual Reds Caravan, but it also culminated at the club's home ballpark. That's where the Reds held their annual "select-a-seat" event for potential new or returning season-ticket holders.
"We tell people that if you're a fan, just come out," said Mark Schueler, the Reds' senior director of ticket sales and service. "We have so many different offerings. We can really custom fit a package for anybody. We've had a lot of people come in and say, 'I've never researched plans. I don't know what you guys offer or have.' Our sales representatives will sit down with them and go through it with them. They typically come away with something that fits their schedule and their family."
The Reds expanded their Caravan tours from three legs to four for multiple reasons.
"Two goals -- one was to cover more ground and get another bus out there. Get more guys out seeing more fans with more stops," Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said. "We've got the radio affiliate network up to over 100 stations now. That means more network guys to go see. The other goal was to get everybody back by Saturday night so all of these guys can attend our select-a-seat event on Sunday."
The select-a-seat event was first tied to the Reds Caravan in 2010, and it's traditionally been held on a Saturday. One of the Caravan legs would pass through Cincinnati for a couple of hours to entice bigger fan turnout and then head back on the road.
Sunday's event ran all morning, with the Caravan participants from all four legs taking a stage at noon. Typical of all Caravan events, fans were invited to present their thoughts in a question-and-answer session. The day concluded with autograph signings.
Among those who participated were Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, manager Bryan Price, pitchers Homer Bailey, Mat Latos and Sam LeCure, outfielder Billy Hamilton and catcher Brayan Pena. Broadcasting icon Marty Brennaman emceed the event and helped moderate the Q&A session.
"For us, it was make this event bigger, expand the select-a-seat event in total," Schueler said. "Really, it's all about the fans coming out. We want them to enjoy their experience at the ballpark. We have seen that if they come to the ballpark and actually pick out their seats, that their experience is even better. The goal of this was to get all of the Caravans to come together, expand this event a little bit more to get more participation."
In 2013, the Reds had a full-season equivalent ticket base of more than 13,000. Obviously, more ticket revenue helps the bottom line and can lead to more investment into maintaining and improving the roster of players on the field.
Will the expanded versions of the Caravan and select-a-seat events help add to the season-ticket base?
"I'll tell you Monday morning," Castellini said. "The goal is to grow it considerably."