What’s Wrong With Opening Day?
Opening Day. A day that for many, signifies the beginning of Spring and/or Summer. A day that signifies our souls will be happy for at least the next six months and that the Earth has shifted back on its axis. A day that is supposed to be the greatest single day since Christmas Morning and for some, it’s better than that.
But when you support a winning team, Opening Day changes. With winning comes more fans. With more fans comes higher prices and with higher prices comes frustration. (We won’t even get into how the ticketing system works)
I’ve been to Opening Day for this, my 15th consecutive year. That includes two Opening Days in 2013 – one on the road in Houston and one at home here in Arlington.
This year was by far one of the worst experiences that I can remember.
We’ll start with the parking situation. As Travis Smith noted earlier today, parking was upwards of $80. EIGHTY. DOLLARS. Just to park your vehicle! It cost more to park than a lot of people paid for their tickets!
Lots were scheduled to open at 10am, which seems to be a reasonable time, and two hours earlier than normal, except when you have lines down the street at 8:30am. I heard Gavin Dawson of The G-Bag Nation on 105.3 The Fan talk about this yesterday and I tend to agree – it’s Opening Day, open those damn gates at 8am. Let us in earlier so we can get our smokers going, so we can get those grills fired up and get those briskets smoked right.
But the time of entry wasn’t the main issue I had. The biggest issue to me is the fact that so many people are allowed in the parking lots without tickets to the game. I understand that policing entry into the lots is a burden and probably even unreasonable but something has to be done. There were a ton of tailgaters that were taking up several $17 spaces with their extravagant tailgate experiences who didn’t even have a ticket to the game – and who only paid for one space.
What’s the big deal, right?
The big deal is that by noon, some three hours before the game, the Rangers $17 lots were full. SDI’s Travis Smith was driving around every Rangers lot he could find and they all had “lot full” signs on them.
The “rules and policies” state that under no circumstances can any tailgate party take up any parking spaces with chairs, grills, etc and no spaces can be saved.
That doesn’t get enforced. At least not from what I could see. Several parties were double parked, were taking up three and four spaces with their grills and outdoor television set ups.
Once upon a time, you couldn’t enter the lots without a game ticket. Man, those were the days. Finding a parking spot was a breeze. Not anymore, not on Opening Day because people that won’t attend another game all year show up at the break of dawn ready to take up every single damn parking space known to man.
And what in the hell is up the side lots charging $50-$80 to park?!?! Are you freaking kidding me? Oh, so the people who actually have tickets to the game, who can’t park in the $17 lots because of all the non-game attending tailgaters have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to park or they have to park in Grand Prairie and hike Mt. Everest to get to the game are the ones that have to fork over their first born to simply park their vehicle.
It’s never like this any other time. So maybe I should just suck it up and deal with it but when the one time it happens is a time when everyone charges three, four or even five times the normal price, I don’t want to have to deal with it. I shouldn’t have to.
Whatever, let’s go inside, shall we?
Getting inside was probably the easiest part of the whole day. No issues getting in.
Once inside, it was the normal circus for a crowd of 50,000+. Long concession lines, crowded bathrooms, ya know, the norm. This isn’t something I would complain about but some other fans didn’t seem necessarily please with these issues.
One thing that has always bugged me about The Ballpark is the fact that they allow people in and out of the seating bowl during play. It’s a constant up and down in our seats, people congregating in the aisles like it’s the Catalina F’N Wine Mixer. Oh and let’s not forget the drunken dude that’s been wasted since 10am and can’t walk up the stairs and his friends think it’s hilarious.
Opening Day is so much worse than the normal, though. I heard two different groups of people complain about people standing in the aisles and not being able to see. One group complained to an usher who basically said, “what do you want me to do about it?!”.
Um, your job, sir. Make them sit down or move.
Another group, this one made up of three older ladies, season tickets holders apparently, complained to a security guard about beer vendors setting up shop in a walk-through area (between the lower bowl and the 100 sections there is a small walk through) selling beer to patrons. The security guard basically told the beer vendors.. “look, these ladies are complaining about the traffic through here during game-play so uh, just try and stay out of their way if you can.”
I mean, I guess that’s better than nothing right?
Speaking of those beer vendors. I watched beer vendor perch up in the tunnel of the lower bowl and start selling to people walking by. No big deal right? Sure beats waiting in the concession stand lines. But then, out of nowhere he suddenly packs up shop and leaves like a sobered up bachelor in Vegas who just woke up and realized what happened last night. He leaves about 5-6 people just standing there in line looking at each other like what the?!
One guy pipes up and says, “hey man we’re all still in line to buy beer from you”. The beer vendor turns around and says, and I quote “I don’t know what to tell you.”
I watched this vendor as he walks away, he walks up the tunnel and sets up shop again, right in that little walk-through area between the lower bowl and the 100 sections. He’s that guy. But instead of telling the people in the line that he’s just moving up the way a little bit, he blows them all off by saying “I don’t know what to tell you”?! Seriously?
My assumption here is that he can set up in the tunnel area between innings and then once the inning starts, he goes out to that walk-through area and impedes the view of the fans. I guess, hell I don’t know.
And why the hell do the Ushers not hold traffic until there is a stoppage in play? Why must I get up and let people into their seats on a full count with two outs in the inning? Why the hell can they not wait until the at bat is over? Why must I have to miss an at-bat or a play in the field because drunken guy had to have four more beers and he has to stand in the aisle and pass the beers down the row to their pals and then make everyone stand up so he can get to his seat?!
Why can’t the Ushers simply hold the foot traffic so that the viewing experience for everyone involved is better? I went to a game in Petco Park several years ago (2008 to be exact) and that is what they did. It worked like a charm. No in-game interruptions, no standing up mid-pitch and no cocktail hours in the aisles during an at bat.
Last year, my fiance and I had a 20-game plan and the usher in our section was fantastic. He was constantly telling him to stand back so that everyone could see. He would even hold some of the traffic until an at-bat was over or there was some sort of stoppage in the action. (On a side note, the “perks” of having some sort of season ticket plan aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. That’s another story for another day, though).
I didn’t encounter many SRO’s so I really can’t speak to that experience but I can only imagine that there were plenty of them impeding views of folks. If you were affected by an SRO (standing room only) let us know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
These are some of the main issues that I encountered yesterday and some of the main issues that have bugged me for years. This year seemed to boil over the top for some reason and I felt like it needed a light shined on it. Whether you agree with me or feel like I’m being an old curmudgeon, I think we can all agree that the overall fan experience at The Ballpark could use a facelift.
Not everyone had a terrible time, though. There were plenty of folks who experienced zero issues.
@ShutdownInning Concession stands were well-run downstairs about 90 minutes before game-time, entry to park was easy & quick. Outstanding.
— NapFanForLife (@Tx_Baseball_Fan) April 5, 2016
@ShutdownInning It was the best opening day in years. The fans around us were great, we won, and no injuries. Win. Win. Win.
— Vanessa (@vanessgph04) April 5, 2016
@ShutdownInning flew in Saturday. Today was amazing. Weather, etc. perfect.
— _relentless (@_relentless) April 5, 2016
@ShutdownInning it wasn’t bad. Parked a mile away at Jerryworld, but traffic getting out wasn’t too bad. Concession lines were lonnnnnng
— Moose (@moosejustrocks) April 5, 2016
@ShutdownInning was hot as balls on the third base line. 3rd row and net not terribly distracting. Great day at the park
— Lane Cooper (@LaneJCooper) April 5, 2016
With the new technology being shown on TV and TV’s being better than ever, the fan experience at the ballpark will need to improve if the fans that are actually there to see the game are going to continue to pay good money to be there. Otherwise, baseball games are going to end up nothing more than a social circus gathering. Although I have a sneaky feeling some people will have no problem with that as long as the seats are full.