HARTFORD, Conn. -- With or without a healthy David Ortiz, the Red Sox have 17 home games in a 21-day stretch in April. For the Red Sox's business chief, chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, those dates loom large.
"We need to get off to a good start," Kennedy said.
Kennedy reaffirmed what Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said a month ago, that the streak of sold-out games at Fenway Park, which stands at 793, is expected to end in April -- perhaps as soon as the second home game of the season. That hasn't changed.
The team has characterized the run, which started on May 15, 2003, as "the longest regular-season sellout streak in the history of major league sports."
"Yeah, I think the likelihood is at some point in April, maybe as early as the second game of the season given that we're pacing behind season tickets. The renewals ... we're pacing about 10 percent behind," Kennedy said. "And given the disastrous 2011 and then the even more disastrous 2012, it's understandable and so we're realistic about it. We have always believed that the sellout streak was something that the fans set, it was their record. I know there was kind of a beef over definitions over the last couple years. And I understand that; when you see empty seats, how could the game be sold out?"
The Red Sox could theoretically distribute free tickets to boost attendance figures, but Kennedy said that's not something they would consider.
"Theoretically, you could if you had only 25,000 tickets sold for a game, you could distribute or comp another 12,000 tickets to get to the roughly 37,000 tickets to qualify [for a sellout]," Kennedy said. "But that's not something that we would do. We have actually the lowest complimentary ticket number, 600-700 a game, in all of baseball. So it's not something that we did or would do."
The streak's end is not something to be celebrated, Kennedy said, but he knows the product on the field drives ticket sales.
"We'll move on, we'll start a new one," Kennedy said. "The way to cure that is entertaining, winning, competitive baseball with a team that sort of proves it's worthy of fan support. I think people are in a wait-and-see mode right now."
The Red Sox's home opener is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET on April 8 against the Orioles. The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on April 10.
"I actually think that having a full house, whether you agree with that definition of a sellout or not, a full house is so important to winning baseball," Kennedy said,. "And the players, I've worked in different markets -- New York, San Diego, Boston -- players know when the place is packed and it is a competitive advantage for our players. ... We need people to come to Fenway to support the team, not just for the revenues that it generates, that's obvious, but for the competitive advantage. Making it a loud, raucous atmosphere is what we want. So, no, I don't want to see the streak come to an end and see it go, but we're realistic and we just recognize that given our pace of sales it likely will come to an end."
Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich.