Munsey on Ballparks
Relaxing at a ballgame
by Paul Munsey (archive)
March 12, 2005
Spring Training is attracting record crowds. Baseball is becoming more popular across the board, both in the majors and minors. This year, shiny new ballparks all over the country will be bursting at the seams with fans. Baseball has never been so prosperous. I guess we're supposed to be happy about that, but I'm not.
For me, going to a baseball game is supposed to be fun and relaxing. You know, kick back with a hot dog and a beer. However, it's getting more and more difficult to relax at a baseball game. Every so often, like during the playoffs, it is fun to go to a big game. But, these days, it seems like every game is a big game.
I saw on the news where people were camping out for two days in front of the ticket office in Ft. Myers to get tickets to a Red Sox - Yankees spring training game. It's not supposed to be hard to get into a spring training game. Last time I checked, the games don't count.
Attending sold out games means paying up for tickets, waiting in traffic to get the game and paying outrageous prices to park the car. Then, you will have to wait with hoards of people filing into the stadium. If you want something to eat, then you'll be waiting in long lines at concession stands. Not only is it unlikely that you'll be able to stretch out your legs on the seats in front of you, there's a good chance that the guy sitting behind will spill his beer on you. This might be tolerable for eight games during football season, but not for eighty one games during baseball season.
Fortunately, there are places you can go to avoid this problem. Many years ago, when the Indians were winning their division every year, I went to a game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. Those were the days when they sold out every game. I was taken aback by how arrogant and indifferent folks at the ballpark were. Their behavior was unlike that of any Ohioan I had ever met, either before or since. Of all the teams in the league, I would have though Cleveland would know how fleeting success can be. Alas, the day has finally come when you can walk up on the day of the game, buy your ticket at the box office and stretch out in your seat in the half-empty ballpark.
Other cities where you can count on having lots of room to spread out are Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Miami and Pittsburgh, which has what may be the most beautiful ballpark in baseball. You don't necessarily have to restrict yourself to ballparks with mediocre teams. Atlanta has won their division every year since 1991, yet they almost always have room for a few more fans. They don't even sell out playoff games.
We took the subway out to Agannis Arena to catch a Boston University hockey game last week. They were playing New Hampshire. I was thinking we'd show up, pay a couple of bucks and pretty much have our choice as to where we wanted to sit. Boy was I wrong. We got there and learned that the game was sold out. Tickets to a college hockey game were $22 each, but the scalpers wanted more, and that wasn't even for good seats.
While at the game I bought a beer. The kid at the counter, who was obviously a student, carded me. He was probably half my age, assuming he was old enough to be selling beer, which I doubt. He said he was required to card everyone who orders beer, and had just checked the ID of a guy born in 1922. To get a beer, I had to pull my drivers license out of my wallet and watch him type my number into the register. The irony wasn't lost on the kid who sold me the beer. After the game, he and his underage buddies were going to a keg party.
Paul Munsey is the editor of Ballparks.com.
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