As if it weren’t bad enough that Ryan Franklin wants to pitch for them, the Washington Nationals’ week got even gloomier yesterday, as the new leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives moved ahead with long-rumored plans to ban lawmakers from accepting high-priced tickets from lobbyists. While great for fans of, say, democracy, this is not so hot if you’re in the Nats sales office - while no one tracks how many club seats or luxury suites are held by lobbyists, then-team president Tony Tavares said last March that the ballclub lost about 100 season-ticket holders just in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal last year, meaning the total lobbyist contingent must be much higher.
The new House rules don’t actually stop elected officials from accepting free tickets - just ones priced at higher than $50 a pop. That’s actually the current rule as well, except that up till now, teams have been allowed to set the “fair value” of club seats or luxury suite tickets at anything they like, even if the per-game price of the season package is much higher. From here on, the gift value of tickets will be considered the face value (which is apparently not the same as the “fair value” - these are lawmakers we’re talking about, I guess) or, for tickets with no printed price, the value of the most expensive ticket available for the event. So if it works the way it’s intended - and again, lawmakers here - there’ll be no more handing over front-row ducats with a wink, saying, “Have a good time at the game in these $45 seats, Congressman.”
If you’re a Nats fan, there’s good news and bad news here. On the one hand, you’ll perhaps have fewer lobbyists buying up all the best seats so that they can sweet-talk your elected officials into giving their clients tax breaks for moving their companies to Bimini. On the other, that schmancy new stadium with its acres of club seats and luxury suites that the team is building - or having the city build for them - can’t be expected to generate quite as much revenue if one key target market is eliminated. So you might end up with a better view … but of Ryan Franklin.