My friend Bill—a lifelong Cubs fan—wanted to get a group together to take in the Sox opener. Since I live a 15 minute walk from the park, I was enlisted to score the seats. We were hoping to avoid the “convenience fees” and sanctioned or unsanctioned scalpers hawking tickets online.
Thursday, March 3rd—the day before tickets officially went on sale—Bill emailed me a link to a Ticketmaster pre-sale deal. Clicking around I quickly ascertained that six seats together could not be had. In fact, no seats in the outfield boxes where we wanted to sit seemed available. After perusing Stubhub and being put off by the mark up and handling, convenience, and other nameless, but very real surcharges, we decided to take our chances the next morning. I’d wait outside in the cold like a true fan.
I got to 35th and Shields around 9:00am, an hour before the box office was to open. Only five or six bundled-up people were idling around the ticket windows, along with a helpful elderly employee handing out season schedules. It was a sunny morning in the 30s so waiting around for an hour could not be classified a true hardship. After half an hour the line lengthened to about thirty shivering souls.
At five minutes before 10, the helpful usher spread us out between about eight shuttered ticket windows. I was first in line before Window #3. Behind me, an old codger couldn’t contain himself. He kept going up to the schedule posted on the wall in front of us and pointing out the Sox-Cubs game he hoped to get seats for in July. He said he’d been a Sox fan for over fifty years and couldn’t wait to get in there and give the Cubbies hell. “Been a Cards fan almost as long too. So I’m gonna go and yell at Jason in the outfield for leaving us,” he promised, talking about new Cub-for-life centerfielder, Jason Heyward. I told him I wished the crosstown game went back to being an exhibition and that Interleague Play was repealed but got no reaction whatsoever.
Then the window opened and the harried woman behind the glass spent a fruitless ten minutes trying to fill my request. After asking several of her colleagues for assistance, she was only able to locate a couple obstructed-view spots, instead of the six outfield box seats I asked for. I thanked her for trying and walked back west up 35th Street and home to get back on the computer.
Two minutes after logging on to Stubhub, I found six seats together in left field for a mere $25 over their list price. It made me wonder, and not for the first time, why sports teams even bother to list set prices for their games, when—between the hidden fees and scalpers’ cuts—hardly anyone will ever pay them. It certainly does little to perpetuate the nostalgic, old-time aura which Major League Baseball has peddled since time immemorial.
Irregardless of all that—as some wise man once said—me and my friends will be at opening day to see the Sox take on the Indians. And even though a couple of them are Cubs fans we all expect to have a good time because it’s the beginning of baseball season and who wouldn’t be happy about that?