Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Season Tickets are Aggravating? WHAT!?!? My Response

The following is my response to this post by ThePensBlog. My thoughts in black text with white background.  I did not take the time to fix the many spelling errors in the original post.

I just got home from today’s Penguin win over Columbus, a day after the huge win over Tampa Bay the afternoon before, and I realized something I never thought I would ever admit. For the first time in over a decade, I wondered if my season tickets were worth the aggrivation. Let me explain.
I knew this post was going to frustrate me based on the second to last sentence.  Really?  Season tickets -- aggravation -- in the same sentence?  Wow.  Moving on...

I have been a Pens season ticket holder since 2000, when I was a law school student. Over the years I migrated from a half-season to afull-season, from $28 per seat tickets to Mellon Arena to $67 per seat tickets at Consol Energy Center.
Miss the days of affordable tickets.
Let me first say, I have been a diehard Penguins fan for most of my life. Through the highs of Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby and Malkin to the long winters of Konstantin Koltsov, Kip Miller, Josef Melichar and Milan Kraft, I’ve been there through it all. In fact, I took more pride in being a fan when the on-ice product was questionable; not only was there shared misery among the truest of true fans, but the Penguin front office always made me feel truly valued. One year, I received an unexpected $100 gift certification to Penstation in the mail from the team, just to thank me for being a partial season ticket holder. I was blown away.
Agree with this paragraph, sounds about right that Pens management would send out a gift certificate.
As the finances of the NHL and the deteriorating condition of Mellon Arena made the games somewhat wanting, we were promised things would get better on both fronts, a promise we never doubted the Penguins management was working towards. But with their work largely complete, I cannot help but wonder if we’re better off in terms of the arena and fan experience.
Here's where it gets interesting.  Questioning the CEC and fan experience.  Let's continue.
Like I said, my tickets have gone up from $28 per seat per game to $67 per seat per game, for a view that is basically the same (and Ihave two seats). I am a member of the demographic the Penguins cherish- theyoung professional under 35 years old. Despite a mortgage, student loans, car payments, credit cards and everything else, I willingly shell out $6,000 per season for tickets (not counting the playoffs), plus plenty more in food, drinks and merchandise. It’s easy to conclude I spend about 10% of my annual income on my Penguins experience, which I never questioned because I enjoyed the games so much. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I am thoroughly unimpressed with the experience of games at Consol Energy Center.
Setting the mood.  Ultimately, no one is forcing this person to continue buying these tickets and he is making sound like a burden that he chooses to spend 10% of his income on the Pens.
First and foremost, the arena was clearly designed to cater to corporate interests, with all of the bells and whistles on the first level and in the boxes. I’ve sat in some of the boxes, and I’ve even sat in Suite 66, and there’s just no comparison, which is fine. I don’t need bells and whistles to enjoy a game. But just getting around the upper level is inexplicably difficult for a new arena, and I really have to wonder what the designers were thinking.
The crowd is immovable, mainly because the corridors are way too narrow for any reasonable amount of foot traffic. Getting anywhere, especially if you’re trying to carry food or a beer, is nearly impossible. The lines for the bathrooms are ridiculous for a new arena, and the consistent lack of thought for traffic flow is painfully obvious. Navigating the crush of people leaving after a game is like running the gauntlet, with arena ushersstanding in the corridor yelling at people that the easiest way out isn’t the exit clearly designed to attract the most attention. It’s an embarrassing cluster you-know-what.
I understand where he is coming from with the first few sentences, however any arena or sports venue nowadays is going to be designed for corporate needs.  Those are the people who own the boxes and/or buy the $150 tickets.  Sports are a business and business is all about making money.  That being said the Penguins are one of the best sports organizations at catering to the everyday fan.  I also agree that the upper level is somewhat difficult to navigate, however think back to the Civic Arena where there were spots up near Section E where only two people at a time could fit through.  Now that is worth complaining about.  The Consol Energy Center is a huge upgrade as far as walking ability.  I agree with the statement on the restrooms, as they are such a pain in the CEC.  If you know what street you are leaving on, exiting the arena is a breeze.  Find a door, walk down the stairs, and you're on the street.  There are signs all over the place saying which exit is where.
Speaking of the ushers, it’s feast or famine with them. My seats are in the front row of the upper bowl, and I’ve had more problems there this season than I had in a decade at Mellon Arena. I’ve gotten into verbal altercations with fans that parked themselves in my seats and refused to move even after I show them my season tickets. I’ve had random fans (grown adults in suits) sit on the steps in the front row for periods at a time, creating their own seats while blocking everyone around them. When I look for an usher, all the way at the top of the section, getting their attention is impossible ifthey’re even around.
Today, it took me the full intermission to get a sandwich and a drink; I returned to my section about 30 seconds into the period. Right as I walked up, there was a whistle, so I started to head down to my seat. I was stopped by the usher, who didn’t think I could make it in time, so she made me wait for several minutes until the next whistle. While I stood there, fans in seats closer to the back were allowed to go while play went on; and in the process, I got bumped into and had a drink spill on the new jersey I bought a few days earlier. No apologies, nothing.
Can't comment on this paragraph, as I have no complaints with the ushers.
Another problem that drives me nuts is the lack of Wi-Fi availability in the arena. Mellon Arena had Wi-Fi, so it’s not a technical issue, and the Pens bragged all over the place about how high-tech Consol Energy Center would be. This is a problem because anyone who has been to a game knows that getting a signal is almost impossible at times. I’d like to be able to post a picture from the game to Facebook or Twitter (which would also be good PR for the team), but I can’t because my iPhone doesn’t work in there. But more importantly, as a member of the young professional demographic the Penguinsclaim to cherish, I need to have access to my email for work just about all the time, and the spotty reception has created serious problems for me. There’s just no excuse for failing to provide customer service to the standards of a local Starbucks in regards to Wi-Fi.
More often than not, it all leads to an in-game experience that has me tired, aggravated and annoyed before I even sit down. Add in the insanely loud music, which makes conversation almost impossible, and the only conclusion I can come to is that I now go to Penguin games in spite of Consol Energy Center, not because of it, and I do blame the Penguins management for that problem, and more importantly, for their clear lack of concern for correcting any of these issues.
Phone service is just horrendous in Consol and my phone's battery just dies as it tries to search for service to successful send out tweets.  And I'm assuming he's refering to pregame music which is indeed loud.  Hey, at least something is loud in Consol because the fans certainly aren't most nights.
This isn’t random bitching and moaning by some yuppie, even though some will likely perceive it as such. From talking with many other fans, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. But I have always justified the expense of going to the games by saying it was my one true indulgence, a real relaxation. Now, despite the exceptional product being put on the ice, I find myself more agitated than relaxed as I am propelled with the mob leaving the arena. The price of the fan experience has gone up over 200% since 2009, but I feel like the value has gone down exponentially. Worse yet, I feel like the Penguins management, the ones who valued me when they needed me to stand by their side during the darkest days of the franchise, has basically abandoned me.
I hope the Penguins address some of these problems before fans like me decide it’s way easier to stay home and watch the games, because there will be a day when the on-ice product deteriorates and they ask for our faith while they rebuild. I might be willing to tolerate the expensive yet frustrating game experience to see Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but don’t ask me to put up with it to watch the next Josef Melichar someday.
We’ve been through a lot together, good times and bad. Please help me justify spending my sports entertainment dollars on this team again. I want my experience of being a Pens fan back.
-A Loyal Fan
Here's where I have my beef.  He and I both experienced the X-Generation and the rebuilding, etc, and now we finally have what the Penguins management has promised us.  This was to be expected!  As the team got better, more and more fans started showing up.  This is not management's fault.  It's a simple case of supply and demand.  The Penguins have had close to 250 straight sellouts meaning that for 5+ seasons the demand of Pittsburgh Penguins tickets has exceeded the supply.  Many people would love to have this writer's seats.  If he is so aggravated with having to purchase season tickets, why not give up the rights and allow someone else to enjoy them.  Sure I'm fed up with bandwagon fans who have driven the price up on tickets and lowered the knowledge of the Consol Energy Center.  There is a chance that if the writer gives up his season tickets, someone with a lack of hockey knowledge will come in a dumb down the arena a little bit more.  After reading through this whole letter, I'm slightly confused at what he wants the Penguins to do.  Does he want another $100 gift certificate?  Because that's not going to happen.  Today, the Penguins can afford to lose 2 season tickets in the 200's.  Why?  Because they have a large waiting list and can easily fill his spot.  My advice to the writer of this letter: step down from your pedestal, stop thinking you're better than all the other fans who also put up with the rebuilding and enjoy Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury.  These guys love the city of Pittsburgh, they love the fans, they love the organization, and they love the people who pay their salaries (the season ticket holders).

I have mixed emotions about this whole letter and I don't want to come off as rude but had to get all of my thoughts out.  On one hand, I agree with some of the points that were made, but on the other hand there were just some random unnecessary complaints and it's not really clear what he ultimately wants done by Penguins management.

Update: Grammar and spelling police were out in full force after this post.  I had one misspelling, it is now fixed and I apologized for it.

1 comment:

  1. Man, people are such babies.

    "This isn’t random bitching and moaning by some yuppie..." Uh, yes it is, Mr. Law-School-Mortgage-Having Guy. You're a young professional flipping out about all the crowds and the lines and the noise and the OH MY GOD YOU'RE IN YOUR 30s! You don't like going to the games anymore because you spent all of your money on responsible things like houses and cars and when you get to the game it's too crowded and punk ass kids spill your beer!