Ticket sales; Muscle Beach

Some good news and not-so-good news regarding ticket sales for local teams. In the heat of the pennant race, the Dodgers set a home attendance record with 3,758,545, breaking the old mark of 3,608,881 from 1982. Of course, they can add to that total if (when?) they make it to the post-season. It should be noted that, these days, MLB attendance figures are determined by the number of tickets sold to fans; previously, the number was determined by how many fans actually passed through the turnstiles.

With the NBA season fast approaching, the Clippers have followed up last year's impressive playoff run with strong ticket sales. According to the SportsBusiness Journal's John Lombardo, the team “sold out all 8,000 of their lower-bowl seats in the Staples Center. Last season, the team sold just 2,200 lower-bowl seats. The Clippers also have a 94% full-season-ticket renewal rate, among the highest in the league while giving the team more than 12,000 full-season-ticket holders, up more than 35% from last year. The team has also sold 44 new center courtside season tickets worth $1.2[M] in new revenue and struck a lucrative new radio deal, helping push team revenue to unprecedented levels.”

Meanwhile, it appears that the Galaxy will miss the playoffs for the first time in MLS history. But the real headache, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Mark Zeigler, is that the attendance figures reported by the league (long controlled by Galaxy owner and local magnate Phil Anschutz) have been generously padded by complimentary tickets. Zeigler obtained a confidential league document entitled "Game Attendance Summary" from the 2005 season. The Galaxy –- by far the MLS' attendance leader -- reported their average official attendance for 2005 games at Home Depot at 24,329 per game. According to Zeigler, the average paid attendance was 19,940. For Chivas USA, then playing its inaugural season in MLS, the numbers were 17,080 ("official") and 12,121 ("paid").

Writes Zeigler: "On average, nearly one in four tickets for regular-season matches last season was complimentary, or free, according to an internal attendance report obtained by the Union-Tribune. The average paid attendance for the 2005 season was 10,746 per match, or 29 percent less than the 15,108 'official attendance' reported by the league."

* * *

If you haven't noticed, the first generation of modern-day fitness pioneers – the men and women who put the muscle into Muscle Beach – are fast disappearing. The Times recently ran obituaries on Deforrest "Moe" Most (the "unofficial ringmaster" at Muscle Beach, according to the Times) and Mickey Hargitay (the former Mr. Universe who famously married Jayne Mansfield). This past June, Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton, whose svelte figure graced countless fitness magazine covers, passed away, two years after her husband Les.

Their deaths follow those of Harold Zinkin (the first Mr. California and the inventor of the Universal machines); Joe Gold (Zinkin's classmate at Roosevelt High and the founder of Gold's Gym and, later, World Gym); "Gorgeous George" Eiferman (a former Mr. America and Mr. Universe); Russ Saunders (a longtime Hollywood stunt double); and awesome Steve Reeves (star of sword-and-sandal epics and the jaw-dropping inspiration of Arnold, Sly, and countless others).

Thankfully, the original crew ain't all gone: Terry Robinson, Paula Boelsems, and Glenn Sundby are going strong. And, of course, Jack LaLanne is going to outlive us all.

A few years ago, Zinkin (with Bonnie Hearn) wrote a book called Remembering Muscle Beach (published by Angel City Press, which -- full disclosure –- published the L.A. sports photography book that I did). It's an excellent read, with magnificent photographs, and recalls the era before sleek, air-conditioned fitness clubs supplanted the beach and before steroids engulfed body-building. Also, Boelsems has recently donated vintage film, slides, and audio recordings from Muscle Beach (bequeathed to her by Saunders, according to this press release) to USC's Specialized Library. A real cache.

September 27, 2006 12:22 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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