Fans: You Deserve What You Get

by John Furgele

Citi Field, the new home to the New York Mets has hosted three games.  Yankee Stadium, the new home to the New York Yankees has hosted one.  But, Met fans are already angered with their new playpen, and I’m sure after a few hours of listening to WFAN today, we’ll get to hear from angry Yankee fans.

At Citi Field, there are two major issues.  The first is that many seats have obstructed views where some fans can’t see the right fielder or the first baseman or fly balls that go into the right or left field corner.  Based on what I hear, I’m not sure these seats are really obstructed.  To me, obstructed means you are sitting behind a pole and you have to move your body to see the game.  I’m not sure if seeing eight of the nine fielders counts as being obstructed, but with the outrageous prices that fans are paying, you can certainly sympathize with their anger. 

The second issue is the pricing and how it affected seat purchases for 2009.  There were many that had weekend packages at Shea Stadium and paid x amount for those games.  This year, that package skyrocketed in price and  the fan then stated to the Mets that they couldn’t afford the new price, but would be willing to spend the same or a little bit more for a package this season.  The Mets then gave this person a Wednesday night package and basically said take it or leave it.  Naturally, the fan who has to drive an hour each way wasn’t interested in doing so on a weeknight/worknight. 

The problem of course, is the price gouging done by both the Mets and Yankees.  At Yankee Stadium, the $250 seat is now $850, just a $600 or a 340 percent increase.  Are there that many millionaires in New York that are willing to pay these prices?  And, the really good seats at Yankee Stadium are $2,625—for one game.  This includes food and soft drinks, but I don’t care how good stadium food is, it’s still stadium food. 

Demand for baseball seats in New York has probably never been higher, and these prices were set before the recession really kicked in, but still, I can’t believe that both the Mets and Yankees are getting away with it.  Met fans actually seem to be clamoring for Shea Stadium to be put back up.  I never thought I would hear this, but I think many Met fans actually miss Shea Stadium, which unfairly has been called a dump for so many years.  Shea was hardly state-of-the-art, but it was a suitable place to watch a ball game.  I’m not saying that it should not have been replaced, but it never was a bad as it was portrayed.  You’re watching baseball, you’re not entertainig the Queen of England or the President of France, you watching the Montreal Expos play the Mets.   And, for the record, if Shea Stadium was called a dump, Yankee Stadium was a dump as well.  Packed concourses, lack of bathrooms and long, long, and slow, slow concession lines ruled the day at overrated, dumpy Yankee Stadium.

What the fans miss is the semi-affordable prices that Shea Stadium offered and before 2000, what Yankee Stadium offered.  Fans want too much.  They want a great seat at a great price and when they don’t get it, the moan and groan.  They want to take their kid to a game, but they don’t want to be in the last row in the upperdeck in right field. 

It is the entitlement mentality we have and it is this mentality that has gotten us into trouble.  $4 coffees, 62 inch televisions, Vitamin Water and silly energy drinks are all example of wasteful spending as is buying a house that you can never afford.  But, this is the world we live in.  In the 1970s, the teacher, truck driver, doctor and lawyer could sit next to each other in the mezzanine, now the teacher and truck driver probably can’t afford to go and the doctor and lawyer are way up in the upper deck.  But, we created this monster.   In Buffalo, I used to get $20 allowance for doing chores and that $20 could get me a ticket in the upper golds—the second best seats—to a Buffalo Sabres hockey game.  Now, the cheapest seats, the upper deck corners hover at the $40 range. 

Yankee fans flooded WFAN host Mike Francesa so much about the lack or customer service that Francesa had to get COO Lonn Trost on the phone to take complaints from fans on the radio.  I felt like calling in to try to sell my lawmower as I thought I was listening to Tradio.  The fans asked for certain seat locations, but were given what the Yankees wanted to give with the old “this is the best we have you, take it or leave it.”

I don’t really understand why fans feel the need to go to every game.  What’s in it for Met and Yankee fans?  Why do you feel the need to go to 10, 20, 30, 40 or all 81 home games and pay all this money to do so?  I wish Francesa would ask these fans why they feel compelled to go to all the games.  My guess is that they want to make sure they are there for the playoffs and they want to be there if their team wins the World Series, because for some reason, a fan gets respect for doing that.  When I tell my sports friends that I saw two World Series games, they actually seem to be awed and usually ask several follow up questions.  They say things like, “wow, that must have been awesome,” or “man, I wish I could have been there,” and other silly things.  And, I have done the same thing.  But, now I have to question why these things are so important. 

My advice for the Met and Yankee fan couldn’t be more clear, and that advice is simple:  go back to the old days.  Pick two or three games, preferably against a low rung team ala the Pittsburgh Pirates where the prices are lowest and go to those games.  Don’t buy season tickets, don’t buy the bloated mini-plans, just pick out one or two games and enjoy.  For the rest of the games, watch them on television.  You probably refinanced your house to get your 62 inch HD TV, so why waste that by sitting in a seat where you can’t see 20 percent of the playing field?  It just doesn’t make sense, to spend $300 on tickets, $18 to park and another $100 on food, when you can buy the MLB Extra Innings package for $179 and watch 60 games per week on cable TV. 

Shea Stadium is gone and with it the innocence of the old common fan feel.  Citi Field (they paid $400 million for naming rights over 20 years, yet had to accept a government bailout money) is not for the common fan and never will be.  The new Yankee Stadium isn’t even for the wealthy fan, it is for the billionaires, but it”s okay, you don’t have to go to all the games.  Pick a couple and be happy, and remember……

The couch is most underrated seat in all of sports.

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