Wooden's World of Baseball

Monday, November 06, 2006

The New Stadium Shuffle

Today, my wife sent off $704 to the Potomac Nationals for a full-season ticket package for 2007, less than eight months after I purchased a half-season (weekend) package for my birthday. Why did I decide to upgrade? Let's count the ways:

3.) I attended 50 games in Woodbridge this year. In the ticket-selling business, the biggest obstacle that you have to overcome is people feeling like they have to go to every game, to justify the expense. I went for the weekend package, due in large part to the perception that going to midweek games would be too hard. What I quickly discovered was that it takes just about as much time to get to the park as it does to get home. After the game, it takes about 20-25 minutes to get home. So the real difference was that 20-25 minutes. The ticket folks also threw in several free midweek passes that more than encouraged me to go during the week and check it out.

2.) The array of freebies and incentives. I work in Marketing and have done it for the past 10 years. I know the value of "free" and the feeling of getting something for nothing, even if I know better (e.g. The trick is to get me there and show up and spend money on concessions). But just a small list:
  • FREE VIP Parking (this past year they charged me $3 a night)
  • Free Fan-pack (Polo shirt, ball cap, baseball)
  • 20% discount at the team store
  • Guaranteed giveaway item
  • Invite to VIP picnic and special BP session
Oh and one small item, cleverly disguised as the 2nd bullet in the mailing I got, which leads to the #1 reason I upgraded:

1.) Priority Seating for new stadium when completed.
G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium was built in 1984, which was was in those pre-Camdenian days when a minor-league stadium could be about as good as your average high-school field (at least in WMass; I'm sure there are schoolboy fields in Texas and California that are better than what the Univ. of Mass, a Div. I team plays in at Amherst).

Today, there aren't many ballparks left that are older than the players that play in them. Independent baseball, in fact, owes a great deal to that 1990 decision to enact ballpark standards because a lot of them in the early going were the fields where the ownership groups decided not to meet those standards. I think the Pftiz must have been grandfathered because it was so "new" or that the Carolina League has waived that requirement because Potomac's ownership (or in those days, Prince William County) had been in the league for more than a decade, which when you review its historical list of teams, is a near-eternity.

That said, you can see that most of the reviews see it the way I do: good atmosphere, good concessions, crappy facilities. Here's just a quick sample:

Uncle Bob's Ballparks

Ballpark Reviews

Charlie's Ballparks

My seat, by the way, is roughly askew towards the RH batter's box, just as it was when I saw games with my friend Phil at Fraser Field. As you can no doubt guess, I don't want to lose that to some schmuck who decides to buy seats as a tax writeoff, which is why you see so many of those seats empty during midweek games.

So I spent nearly twice as much for the right to keep that when the facility improves, and to spend even more when they raise ticket prices 20-30 percent. Damn marketers.


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