The Economics of Ichiro
Japan Today has a piece from Kyodo News this morning that says it’s gone about as well as can be expected. Ichiro’s presence has been impactful not just for the Mariners, but for Seattle at large and the rest of Washington. [Japan Today’s server seems to be up-and-down, so I’ve quoted the two most relevant bits.]
According to the story, “Ichiro’s arrival in the city further increased the number of Japanese visitors by 30 percent in the first year of his major league baseball career.” Obviously, that increase was not all Ichiro — there has been a multipronged marketing effort at work for a while now — but the thrust of the article is that the brilliant right fielder piqued peoples’ interest, they came to see him, and then stayed for the wine, the mountains and, um, the scenery from “Brother Bear.” No, really.
But what about team revenue specifically? Is anybody buying those hellaciously expensive signed Ichiro baseballs in the team store? Darren Rovell said yup in 2002, and today’s story goes a bit further.
“[Miki] Harada [of Azumano International Inc, the official travel partner of the Mariners] quoted a veteran freelance tour guide as saying proceeds from the goods have skyrocketed 150 times since Ichiro’s addition to the team.”
Okay, this statistic can’t be right, and my guess is that it is intended to mean that merchandise sales are 150 percent of what they were before Ichiro came west. Take the unofficial stats from a “veteran freelance tour guide” (?) with a grain of salt anyway — but if that’s close to accurate, a time-and-a-half bump in merch sales is pretty unreal.
Just another way the wizard of right field makes his presence felt.