The Nutting conglomerate recently decided to charge an extra 3 bucks for tickets purchased on game days. I skimmed a few articles concerning this matter. Most of the comments and reactions trended negative. No big surprise there. Honestly though, they can charge whatever they want. I'm sure they did some weak marketing research before implementing this new course of action.
As usual, my perspective is unique. During the 5 year stretch of limo nonsense, I went to a total of 36 Pirate games (I counted the ticket stubs). My boss and his girlfriend had Lexus club seats behind home plate - these seats were usually about $115 per ticket. So I'm figuring when it was all said and done (my salary, gas, vodka, the inevitable towing fees for the nonsensical vehicle of humiliation), they probably spent about $500 every time they went to see their beloved Pirates. Even more peculiar, they'd always leave by the 7th inning stretch. But this was always cool with me. If you truly need the "final score resolution" in a regular season Pirates game, you've got issues.
But here's my point... I went to 36 games. Guess how much I spent on all 36 tickets? The answer... yep, you guessed correct - ZILCH! I vaguely recall ONE occasion it took over 20 minutes and I almost forked out 5 bucks, but couldn't bring myself to do it. I either ended up getting a freebie or hung out with the other drivers in the fire lane. I honestly do not recall.
It basically became this weird game where I would try to acquire a ticket without even speaking. This worked about half the time. I would just stand there in between the home plate entrance and the box office with this "lost puppy dog" look. I never wore the suit & tie limo outfit. Usually it was just the typical jeans and a t-shirt. Every once in a while, I'd hold up my index finger denoting my desire for a ticket. Anyway, usually within 5-10 minutes someone would just ask me point blank, "Hey, do you need a ticket?" I would gratefully reply, "Ohhh yes, thank you so much. How did you know I needed one?" They'd fire back, "I don't know. You just seemed like you didn't have one."
Other times, I would get a little frustrated and ask people for tickets. Schools and church groups were the best targets because you'd see an individual handing out a massive stack of comp tickets. I might take a little heat for this but any group consisting of special needs individuals always had plenty of tickets too. Hell, they were going to eat them anyway. Why not ask?
So my point is this. Out of 80 excruciating home games, there are maybe a total of 5 to 7 which are difficult to obtain free entry. All the others are a complete laydown. If you pay big money for these tickets, it's safe to say you're some kind of "egalitarian schmuck." If you have the audacity to complain about the high cost of tickets, you need to rethink your general strategy to experiencing entertainment during a prolonged recession.
One of the coolest things about PNC Park is the experience, not whether they win or lose. Who the fuck honestly cares if this team breaks the .500 mark? Bob Nutting needs to take a lesson from famed pro wrestling icon Vince McMahon. In the early 90's, Vince realized the WWF needed to transition. He decided to correctly refer to his company as a provider of entertainment and downplay the "sports" angle. Truth be told, we all know it's staged. Duhhh? Instead, focus on the athleticism, production and bombastic story lines. Nutting should embrace this same marketing lesson. He should boldly go where no one has gone before. After all, he does kind of resemble a sensible Vulcan, or to a lesser extent, a prudent Romulan.
Nutting should be the first to "come out of the closet" in the world of small market sorts franchises. "Hey Pittsburgh fans, grow the fuck up! We're never going to field a winning team. We will never go to the World Series. I refuse to waste my money in this fashion. As far as I'm concerned, it's a bottomless pit and doesn't adhere to my traditional business models. This is my team and I'll run it as I see fit." But hold on, there's more... "Sure we're going to lose, but we've got a tremendous facility! Great views from anywhere in the ballpark. Strong promotional nights... fireworks, concerts, giveaways, etc. Even though the venue is only 30-50% full, this is a GOOD thing. You can walk around and take in some different vantage points. What other ballpark affords that possibility? Embrace the river walk or that all-you-can-eat promotion (disgusting). Watch the potato-shaped mascot/humans run for their lives! We will finish in last place, BUT WE DON"T GIVE A DAMN!" We'll be the most gracious losers ever! Try and top that one!
Nutting should take it in this direction. It helps deflect from the endless talk of another losing season and being regarded as the habitual laughingstock of the league. Admit your transgressions and embrace your shortcomings. It's 2010 and beyond. This ain't the 1950's anymore. Focus ALL your energy on providing a good time to your patrons. I've got news for you. It's just baseball. Nobody really gives a fuck anyway.
And hey, you could use the lyrics I created specifically for the 7th inning stretch.
Take me out to the Pirates
Where the hell is the crowd?
Why doesn't Bob Nutting give a damn?
He won't spend money to fill up the stands
So we'll root root root for the Steelers
Cuz football's not far away
For it's one, two, three strikes you're out
At the old ballgame.
This would play really well. The commoners would love poking fun at a billionaire and it helps to know that the owner has a self-deprecating sense of humor. It would bring a much desired sense of unity to the entire organization. Take my advice Bob. Usher in that new era. Take Obama's advice from the State of the Union last night - THINK BIG! THIS IS YOUR SPUTNIK MOMENT!