What’s Wrong With Opening Day?

OD

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.

HAHAHAHA!! Please.

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.”

What?

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.

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.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

14 comments

  • This entire article is wrought with silly complaints. Get to the game earlier if you don’t want to deal with parking issues. The Rangers have more parking than your typical stadium. Have as many people there without game tickets as they want. Who cares? They are supporting the team and having a good time. I’d rather have an overflow of folks and an insane number of tailgaters to make opening day better than to logistically hold back lines because there aren’t game tickets in a car.

    This was poor planning on your part, not the Rangers.

    • Thanks for reading, Ben. For some folks, it’s not as easy as “get there earlier” especially on a weekday with kids being in school and work and such. Most people would agree that they shouldn’t have to show up five or six hours before a game in order to get a decent parking spot. Most would agree that allowing people into parking lots without a game ticket could pose an issue at some point.

      The parking issue wasn’t my issue specifically, it was other peoples issue that I included in this piece as an overall experience. Some of these weren’t my experiences specifically.

  • Carolyn Martchenke

    I agree about not letting fans walk up and down the stairs, and on to their seats, when a player is at bat. In fact, it is really “rude” to walk in front of other fans who are trying to watch the game.

    Just have the Ushers hold the fans at the top (or bottom) of the stairs.

  • Deborah Mcdougle

    I’ve never been able to secure a opening day ticket- that’s my biggest complaint ! As far as people constantly getting up and down, that’s every game. We sat in sec 40 Wednesday, and that has been our favorite- only one way in so if your towards the end of the row there is no traffic.

  • I’ve been to Opening Day for the last 5 years. I felt like this one was more organized than others. We got to the ballpark at 11:20 and easily found parking in the $17 parking lots right across from the ballpark. Yea one of the concession stands credit card machines was down and yea lines were a little long but honestly what do you expect? It’s Opening Day. Honestly, the most annoying thing was Prince’s walk up music. I sat in section 30 and had no problems with fans or concessions or vendors. I felt more bothered Tuesday night with how dark it was in section 326-329 with the new lights.

  • This is a message from Mr. Chuck Morgan. I am posting this message at his request.

    First, I want to thank all of you for being Rangers fans. It may not seem like it sometimes, but we care what you think, what you experience and I really appreciate your support and never taken it for granted. I also want you to know that I have already spoken to our people about some of the parking issues and they are trying to come up with some better plans.

    The last thing that I want to see is a message from great Rangers fans like you, that you would rather stay at home and watch on TV than go to the ballpark, especially on a day like Opening Day. For all of the emotion that you invest into the Rangers, you need to be there.

    Some complained about the sound system volume. Easy fix and it will start next Thursday April 14th. I will turn it down…but when we run one of those between innings features that has a player speaking, I get a bunch of complaints that some fans couldn’t hear what the player is saying. The sound system is checked every year by sound consultants…they set the levels for us and it is not touched….but again, I hear you, I will turn it down.

    I saw Jeremy’s comments about the extreme media between innings. I wish I could fix that, but what you see is big revenue for the team. I have proposed before to have 3 or 4 half innings where nothing happens, just organ music or just music with nothing on the video boards but the scoreboard. I wish you could see some of the things that we have been asked to do between innings…things that have nothing to do with the game on the field. Almost breaks my heart to see a great fan like Jeremy say he had better experiences in Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium than his own home ballpark. That shouldn’t happen.

    And if any of you have a problem with a vendor or usher, please let me know. That shouldn’t happen either. If you can, make a note of the area you are in if you have a vendor or usher problem, if possible, get me a name…no fan, should ever be shunned or not helped by one of our people.

    Again, if you have any problems at the ballpark, please feel free to email me at cmorgan@texasrangers.com. I will do all I can to help with the experience at a Rangers game.

    Thanks
    Chuck

  • Chris Fritzsche

    Not sure I agree with not letting people into the parking lot without game tickets but it is annoying that the lots fill up so quickly and that they don’t open them sooner. Can’t really enforce it either as you might be picking up tickets from a friend or at will call. Maybe charge more if you’re taking multiple spaces but how is that enforced? I chose not to go to opening day this year bc of much of what you said along with some other reasons. I’ve been disgusted at the general lack of respect that people have with other fans and with the ballpark itself. In 2014 we had people cover the Shannon Stone statue with beer cans and bottles. If you had a long walk to your vehicle like I did, you also saw beer cans and bottles littered along the walkways and fence lines. Is it so hard to hold onto your trash until you find a trash can? Last year I saw trash all over the ballpark. My gf and I, after spending 3 innings standing in a concession line, noticed trash littered all around the concession area we were at along with a concrete column that we stood near to enjoy our nachos. There was a trash can within arm’s reach from this column. No matter what I’ve paid for a ticket, I’m not too good to leave my nacho tray trash for someone else to discard. The crowd at opening day is much different than the crowd any other time of the year and I have a hard time including myself with it.

  • I completely agree with the rule that you have to have a ticket to the game to park in any of the lots. We had a group next to us that had at least 20 people tailgating and not a single one had a ticket to the game. I imagine they probably took up at least 6 parking spots in Lot N that someone that’s actually there to see baseball would’ve loved to have. I also agree with Jeremy’s comments about the volume between innings. Me and my friends go to several games a year and we always try to talk between innings about what’s happening or what we think will happen. But I find that I have to stop talking cause my buddies can’t hear me. I love the job Chuck Morgan does, but it’s just a little loud at times. Other than that it was a great time and I can’t wait to do opening day again next year (yearly tradition with my buddies).

  • Well said, Billy.

    Side lots aren’t controlled by the Rangers – they’re private businesses and home-owners who open up their property and charge whatever they want, whatever the market will bear. Also, don’t park at Wal-Mart (or Lincoln Square or any other lot that appears to be free) and think you will get away with free parking. Your car will be towed when you come back to the lot, and you will have to fork over $250-300 or more to get your car back, as well as the hassle of finding transportation to the tow lot.

    I stopped going to opening day after 2013. For the very same reasons. Parking is terrible. I had season ticket parking but that lot was full hours before I arrived. I had to park in JerryDome parking and go over the river and through the woods to get to the ballpark. If we hadn’t given up our half-season tickets, I was going to change from odd games to even games to avoid the opening day cluster. As Billy mentioned, the between beer hawkers and attendee gawkers, it’s impossible to enjoy an inning without contorting yourself to see around the people clogging the aisles or getting up 30 times a game for the people in the aisle who can’t go 5 minutes without going to the bathroom or getting up to buy another beer…more peanuts…more nachos…another beer… a hot dog… and forget having a conversation between innings because the PA system is at max volume with videos or music. Why does EVERY MINUTE have to be saturated with EXTREME MEDIA?? Baseball is a talking sport – let us talk between innings.

    I went to a game at Wrigley Field last summer and it was by far a better fan experience than Globe Life. Even though the concessions are antiquated and too few, I had no problems with snacks or beverages, nobody got up to walk past me during game play, even though I was sitting on the aisle. And my wife and I were able to talk to each other in a normal voice between innings because the music was somewhere below Led Zeppelin concert sound levels. We could still hear it, but we didn’t have to yell to hear each other. I had a similar experience at the new Busch Field in ST Louis in 2012. Baseball is a relaxing pass time for fans. We don’t need to have all mid-inning breaks be media overload. I imagine a poll of fans would show an overwhelming majority do not appreciate the max volume music and video.

    These are all reasons (but not all of the reasons) that I don’t have season tickets anymore – I’d prefer to watch at home than fork over thousands of dollars for season tickets and deal with these beatings at the ballpark.

  • I can’t fix all of these problems and concerns, but I can communicate some of these to our operations people.

    I will pass along all of these comments to the ballpark operations people.

    Above all, I know I do, but I’m sure all of our folks appreciate your support of the ball club…and we want you to have a good time when you come to a ballgame.

    If you have any other comments or questions, please feel free to send me an email to cmorgan@texasrangers.com

    Thanks

    Chuck

  • Very good article. I went to opening day in 2015 and had a similar experience with fans constantly getting up and not watching the game and making it hard for me to watch the game. It didn’t help that 2015 opening day was an awful game, though!
    I don’t know what the Rangers can do about that, really. And the long lines at concession stands is a problem but I usually get my stuff before the game and actually sit and watch the game.
    I went to probably 30 other games last year and rarely ever have any problems. Opening day is its own animal. You get a lot of non baseball fans who just show up to be there for the experience. How do you solve that problem?
    I joke that maybe we should ask everyone who the pitcher is for today or what team we are playing as a requirement to get in?
    That’s one of the reasons I didn’t go this year to opening day. That and ridiculous ticket lottery. Even people who had access to get tickets couldn’t find two seats together by the time they got the stupid page to load.
    I’m going to the game tonight and shouldn’t have any of these issues and paid $15 for my ticket.

  • I agree with almost all of the comments. Our usher is great. My biggest thing is also the people who leave during the game. Also, when they stand up and then have to talk to other people around them, fix their clothes, get their wallet, take the whole row’s order, etc.

  • This has been my experience as well the last few trips to the the Ballpark. Parking is terrible, getting in and seated is easy and fast, but getting help from the ushers or vendors during the game was a nightmare. Rude replies, being ignored…hell, I had a group of ushers literally turn and walk away from me when I approached to ask for some help. It’s really soured me on seeing the games in person.

    • and on Opening Day, all of this is magnified ten-fold. It’s an issue and the archaic policies are to blame. These policies worked in the 2000’s when the team was garbage. Now that attendance is up and the team is winning, there needs to be an update in the policies.

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