— Days Without Shea —

by Kingman on July 19 at 9:14AM

WallaceMatthewsFinally, a major news outlet wrote the story we’ve wanted written.

Newsday’s Wallace Matthews did a piece today about how current Met partial season ticket holders are getting SHAFTED in the Citi Field plans. Loge13 members have asked other journos to follow this story but Matthews did it. Good for him.

Newsday tells the story through some Saturday plan holders from Loge, section 8 (What is it about the Loge section?). The story is absurdly similar to our own:

Henry Goldman can remember a time when the Mets were so hard up for witnesses to their futility they would give prospective ticket buyers a tour of the ballpark before asking for their money.

"Back in the Eighties, when they were dying, they actually took us around and showed us the seats and asked us where we wanted to sit," remembers Goldman, who chose three seats in the loge, section 8, down the third-base line and just under the overhang.

Indeed the Mets were desparate for fans back then. I was in high school when my friend and I realized we should look into a partial plan. We went to practically every game we could (in general admission). If we cut back on the number of games, we could afford our seats. In November of 1984, we were escorted around a snowy Shea Stadium and had our pick of seats. We settled on Loge 13, just under the overhang, as this was the best vantage offered to watch Keith Hernandez.

For the past 25 years, Goldman, 79, his wife, Janet, and either their daughter Lisa or his grandson Jake occupy those same seats every weekend the Mets are in town. From there, the Goldmans have a fine view of the construction of Citi Field and, they fear, the end of their weekends at the ballpark.

"It doesn't look like there's going to be any place for us in that new stadium," he said.

Henry Goldman's fear stems from the stated policy of the Mets ticket agents stationed throughout Shea Stadium that the partial season ticket plan he and his wife have enjoyed for a quarter-century will no longer be available at Citi Field.

"Being senior citizens, we can't afford to go to every game," he said. "Weekends are our time to go. If we can't get that plan anymore, we're finished. We won't be able to go."

EXACTLY! This is the heart of the matter. Thousands of fans like the Goldmans, Kingman, Ron Hunt et al chose partial plans ‘cause that’s what we could afford. many of us have been there for almost 25 years and more. Between tickets, concessions, parking, etc., we’ve collectively invested millions of dollars into this team. What do we recieve for this loyalty? A mandate to buy a full season plan – right now – to have just a chance of getting into Citi Field.

Forget about if you think Shea is an eye sore. Forget about how pretty Citi Field will be. This treatment of fans is simply wrong. It should be corrected by the Mets front office. This year. This summer.

But it won’t be. The message to perennial fans: thanks for being there in the bad times. Enjoy watching the good times…on TV. This is business and you either accept it or move on (or write a blog). But business doesn’t have to be conducted this way. For Met fans old enough to remember the Payson era, the Bill Shea era, they know that business leaders can make business decisions that benefit fans (even at the expense of annoying a few nuns). 

Citi Field is indeed a throwback to the old Ebbetts Field: just as O’Malley disenfranchised loyal fans in the name of progress, the Mets ticket office is now doing the same to the sucker successors of the Boys of Summer boosters.

From the drastically reduced seating capacity -- 42,000 as opposed to the current 55,000 -- to the apparent elimination of affordable ticket plans like the one Henry Goldman uses, to the hard-sell announcements that issue from the video screens between innings, "informing" fans that only Shea full-season ticket holders will receive priority when it comes time to shell out for seats in the Mets' new crib, it is clear that Citi Field will be fan-friendly only to New York's wealthiest fans.

The Mets are getting the deal Walter O'Malley wanted 50 years ago, the one he wound up getting in Los Angeles. But they are doing it in reverse, downsizing the number of seats in order to increase the number of luxury boxes, and thereby vastly increasing revenue while decreasing the average fan's chances of seeing a game live.

It will work out fine for the Wilpons and fine for their corporate sponsors and fine for the well-to-do clientele they are so avidly courting. As for the rest of us, well, they have a seat for us, too -- in our living rooms, watching the Mets on SNY for the relatively modest monthly cost of a cable tier.

 Henry Goldman's calls to the Mets' ticket office have drawn little in the way of encouragement.

"We've been spending our weekends here for a long time. We suffered through some bad teams and now that they're getting a new ballpark, we don't know if we are going to be able to go. We've been loyal to them and we get absolutely nothing in return."

We in Loge13 have also written to the front office and had a dialogue with them. But their stance has not changed. They say they might have partial plans in Citi Field – a decision that will be made only after they figure out how many seats are left over. However, we were also told that we have no seniority over anyone else, even if we (or the Goldmans) have been with the team through the ugly days.

"It seemed like they were a lot more friendly to us back then," Goldman said. "And we stuck it out, when the team was bad, through the deterioration of Shea Stadium, everything. "We're still there, but it just seems like they don't care about the little people anymore."

It certainly does. A few months ago, I wrote some columns detailing the plight of businesses in the Iron Triangle of junkyards, foundries and factories across 126th Street from Shea Stadium. Since then, Mets officials customarily greet me as follows: "Hey, how are your buddies in the junkyard doing?" As if displacing businesses and residents is some kind of joke. As if their lives and livelihoods don't matter, or at least not as much as the Mets getting a new ballpark.

Sadly, a lot of fans and the local media have fallen in line, having swallowed the canard that Citi Field will be good for everyone, even those who are being bulldozed, trampled over and kicked out to make way for it.

Sooner or later, a lot of Mets fans are going to realize what Henry Goldman has already learned: If you can't afford a season ticket, you will be about as welcome in Citi Field as a junkyard dog.

Well done, Wallace Matthews.

[July 20, 2007 5:15 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Bob Bobster said

Back in the 70s and early 80s, before I moved out of New York, watching the Mets was cheap and easy. They televised almost all of their games - for free - on Channel 9. If you wanted to see a game in person, no problem! With 55,000 seats, it was a rare event that you couldn't buy a ticket. And you could even bring your kiddies, bring your wife! Grandstand seats cost $1.50 or less right into the '70s, and box seats weren't very expensive either. In other words, it was easy to be a Mets fan then.

No more! Free games on TV seem to have vanished, ticket prices have soared...and in CitiField getting tickets won't be cheap or easy. Such is today's baseball. I guess when average players make millions per year and stars make much more than that, the team has to squeeze every nickel it can out of the fans.

[July 22, 2008 3:10 PM]  |  link  |  reply
caryn said

Thanks for this. It seems like you and I are the only ones who are following this - I just wrote about it yesterday:


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