23 March 2007

The Dodgers Irritate Me Yet Again

Baseball season hasn’t even begun and I’m already fed up with the Dodgers. I’m a lifelong fan. The first ballgame I ever went to was the first game the Dodgers ever played in Los Angeles, at the Coliseum in 1958. As an adult I average attendance at six to 10 games a year, and watch plenty on television.

The last few years I’ve gone online in March and bought a selection of tickets for games throughout the season. I usually buy four seats in what they now call the Infield Reserve” section – high up, but as close to behind homeplate as I can get. A couple of days ago I decided it was time.

They’ve raised the price of the “Infield Reserve” seats by five bucks to $25 each. They're not great seats, Dodger Stadium's stands slope too gradually, so in the reserve section you're a lot further from the action than you are in the equivalent seats at, say, Yankee Stadium, or even the Angels' ballpark. But I can live with that.

But then there’s a $4.50 per ticket “convenience charge” to buy them online. There’s another $2.50 “convenience charge” if you want to pay $15 to buy your parking in advance (also a five buck price rise over last year.) Adding insult to injury, there’s yet another $2.25 “convenience charge” if you want to have the tickets automatically emailled to you and then print them out yourself on your own home printer with your own paper and ink.

Just whose convenience are these extra charges for?

Let’s see now, I’m buying the tickets online so the Dodgers don’t have to pay the minute or so of salary it would cost them to have a person sell them to me. Multiply that minute by the number of people who buy their tickets online and it means they can probably lay off a few employees.

Maybe the parking’s fair, after all, they still have to hire someone to stand in the entry booth so that I can wave my parking pass at them as I drive by. Although, isn't that what the five buck price hike is supposed to pay for?

As for printing out the tickets; haven’t I just saved them the cost of printing and mailing the tickets? Isn’t that likely to add up? That's just plain robbery.

Buying and receiving tickets and parking vouchers onliine saves the Dodgers money. It decreases the chances of human error in the transactions. Sure it's convenient for me. It’s even more convenient for the Dodgers.

So, four nosebleed section seats and parking (let’s face it, the public transportation options for getting to Dodger games, especially for one of my friends who has very bad knees and another with a bad back) are nearly worthless) comes to $141.55 online. $22.75 of which is charged for the “convenience.”

And that’s even before you get into the ballpark and overpay for a lousy hot dog with a cup of beer at a price you’d expect in a swank, Manhattan cocktail lounge.

I didn’t buy the tickets. I couldn’t bring myself to. I could have afforded the $22.75 for the Dodgers’ convenience, but I was offended by it. I might go to a game or two if I’m near the advanced ticket office one day and think to pick up some tickets at their actual face value.

I went back on the internet and looked up the site for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Near as I can tell they know how to treat their fans right. The best seats in the park are eleven bucks. Beer is reasonably priced. The hot dogs are tastier and cheaper. Okay, so the quality of play isn't as high, but the Dodgers haven't supplied a lot of moments for the highlight videos themselves over the past few years.

The Epicenter, a charming and intimate small ballpark where the Quakes play, is about a 40 minute drive from my house. I’ve spent as long as an hour and twenty minutes trying to get out of the Dodger Stadium parking lot, so Rancho Cucamonga is just as convenient - for me.