It was my fifth trip to Tropicana Field in the past four seasons, but me and my mother (quite a baseball fan in her own right) got to see the Rays and the Indians play Thursday afternoon. It was the ninth Rays game in the 2016 regular season and their seventh at home, but Cleveland won the game by blanking the hometown team 6-0.
Things have been better for the local baseball franchise, trying to stay competitive in a brutally tough division (the East division of the American League) against teams with better economies who, thus, can get better players. The price of attempting to improve the club has been passed on to us, the consumers.
We got the tickets a week ago, seeing a Rays “steal of the day” advertised during the first home series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Press level seats at the 200 level of Tropicana Field, usually $38, went on sale at half press if you got the tickets online through the Rays website.
When we got to the park, we noticed the price of various things had gone up. Last year, I got an all you can drink Pepsi for $10 that could be refilled free during the game. This year, the price is now $11, and you get a slightly smaller paper based cup as opposed to the larger plastic cups.
Jammed into the 200 level like sardines, I went off to the concession stand at 12:45, thinking I’d get back to my seat in time for the 1:10 first pitch. The problem is, on the first base side of the press level seating, there’s just one concession stand. On top of that, the people manning the stand are going VERY slowly. It takes a few minutes at a time for simple orders to be fulfilled.
At 12:55, the National Anthem is played. Hats (including mine) are self-removed from our heads (after a brief consultation with neighbors in the line to see what the proper etiquette is for such an event), and even the concession stand that I’m at has come to a halt. Nothing wrong at all with respecting the country, so I can’t fault them for that. By the time I get back to my seat with two $8 foot-long hot dogs, a $5 candy that my mother wanted, and a free Pepsi refill, it’s 1:15, and Chris Archer had already started throwing the first pitches of the game.
On top of that, finding the right seats, and finding people surrounding you to find THEIR right seats is an issue. I made sure we were in the right row and right seats after a bit of a debacle a couple of years ago. When I got back to what I thought was our seats, my mother had moved two seats over. A couple had come along and claimed that they were in the right row. Not wanting to pick a fight, I just stayed where I was the whole game.
(I looked up the seating chart last night, and sure enough, we were in the wrong row, just like two years ago when we were in the wrong section. My fault, no one else’s.)
It wasn’t the best of experiences, and I’ve had better there. However, when fans don’t go to a major league park, those who do go have to pay more, or so goes the jist. I just wish the jist was a little cheaper…