The Los Angeles Dodgers next year will make the ticket-buying experience for companies a more recession-friendly one. Businesses and fans can buy more minipackages of tickets. And notably, the team is slashing prices on its corporate suites.

Last year, the team sold only about 80 percent of its suites, a decline of 10 percentage points from the previous year. That’s particularly significant because suites are typically the highest ticket revenue category for a baseball team. Most suites are purchased by corporations, and many companies have been cutting entertainment costs due to the economy.

Heading into 2010, the Dodgers have cut as much as $2,000 off the per-game cost of a suite. The lowest-priced suites will now cost $4,000 a game, down from $5,500 last year. Higher-priced suites get deeper discounts.

“We plan on reaching a higher revenue number with this plan because of a higher volume of sales despite the lower prices,” said Antonio Morici, director of premium sales.

The Dodgers have 35 suites, each accommodating 15 to 30 fans.

In addition, the team has started a system in which games with higher demand will have higher prices. A Friday evening game against the San Francisco Giants, for example, will cost more than a Tuesday game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Also, the Dodgers devised two suite concepts available next year. One suite per game will include all food and drink for no extra charge. Other suites will, as in the past, charge suite holders for food and beverage. The second concept is a “Legends” suite; a former Dodgers player or coach will visit during the game.

For small businesses, the team is offering new packages in the baseline box club sections. Those are the field-level boxes that include tables, food and drinks. Last year, only half- and full-season packages were available in addition to individual games. But next season, the Dodgers will sell packages of seven, 14 and 21 games.

The seven-game package costs a total of $3,500 for a four-person box. That comes out to $125 per ticket, while tickets in the boxes range from $150 to $285 for an individual game.

The 14- and 21-game packages also come with amenities that were only available in the past to full- or half-season ticket holders. They include luncheons with players or mangers, and a batting-practice experience with a coach.

Dugout Club seats, located directly behind home plate, will have the lowest prices since 2005.

For regular fans, the team next season will rebrand the right-field corner of the stadium for right fielder Andre Ethier. The working name is E Street and it will be similar to Mannywood in the left-field corner. Another section will be My Town, a section dedicated for fans in affinity groups.

“We are adding sections that create value-added treats for the individual game plan buyers,” said Dennis Mannion, Dodgers president, whose duties were expanded recently to include oversight of the baseball side of the business.

Other changes for the individual buyer include more miniplans. Many fans have bought season tickets and split them with friends or co-workers. The team will sell miniplans directly to consumers.

Splitting ticket packages is a trend that has been accelerated by the economy, said Mannion.

Sport Science

Base Productions of Burbank, creators of an Emmy Award-winning cable show called “Sport Science,” has signed a distribution deal with ESPN to produce content for the network.

For example, an abbreviated segment that explains how a football player suffers a concussion could be used by ESPN during a game when a player has such an injury. Similar segments could be integrated into many of ESPN’s core programs, such as SportsCenter, and pregame and halftime shows.

It’s unknown now how much content or how many minutes will be used on the air.

“It’s hard to put an exact number on it,” said John Brenkus, Base Productions co-chief executive, who also serves as host of “Sport Science.” “The concept will be all over the place all the time,”

The first content produced for ESPN will air during the first quarter 2010, with the Super Bowl as a target date for the initial segments.

The company employs about 100 people, 20 to 30 of which work on Sport Science.

Shoe Deal

Skechers USA Inc. of Manhattan Beach signed Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana to a shoe endorsement deal.

Montana will be featured in print, television and outdoor advertisements for the company’s Shape-ups shoes, which are designed to promote weight loss, tone muscles and improve posture. Montana’s image will be used to promote the shoes to men. The company expects his image to help increase its sales to athletes.

‘Face-Off’

The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have formed a partnership with Subway restaurants as the title sponsor of the “Freeway Face-Off.” The sandwich maker will serve as sponsor for the six games played each season between the local hockey teams. The Freeway Face-Off was launched during the 2007-08 season. The Ducks won the first series; the Kings took the title last year.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at dnusbaum@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 236.

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