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Nationals Ticket Promotion in Poor Taste



By Mike Silva ~ February 29th, 2012. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

I have travelled to an opposing ballpark to watch the Mets play. I purchased Red Sox tickets in 2006 when the Mets were in Beantown. In 1999 and 2002 I went to the old Veterans Stadium for a Phillies/Mets series; I did the same in 2006 for an August series against the Nationals at the old RFK.  I have tons of friends and family that do a yearly sojourn to Camden Yards to watch the Yankees. The same each year when the Mets visit Citizens Bank Park. In some cases, the visiting team appeared to have a large enough contingency that it skewed the crowd in the visitors favor.

Earlier in the month the Washington Nationals introduced a “Take Back The Park” initiative, in which they would sell tickets to three games against the Phillies on May 4, 5 and 6, only to people with Maryland, Virginia or DC addresses, in an attempt to prevent Phillies fans from filling the stadium.

A group of Phillies fans were refunded the deposit for their tickets, but have lost out on a deposit for a bus they intended to rent for the ride down to DC.

It’s understandable that Nats fans don’t want Phillies fans in their stadium. Some of my worst ballpark experiences have been a result of that fan base invading Shea Stadium or Citi Field. The Mets have made a point to beef up security during those series, although it doesn’t nearly have the same juice the last couple of years.

With that said, I wouldn’t feel good about the Mets denying anyone with a PA address from entering the ballpark. Want to prevent the opposition from filling the stadium? Show up to the ballpark in droves by buying tickets. A good team on the field would probably help, as well.

Washington was 20 of 30 last season in attendance. Perhaps renewed optimism under Davey Johnson will change that this year. How bad would it look if Nats fans don’t show up on the non-Philadelphia game days? It would validate the pettiness of the promotion. I also fully expect to see that scenario.

It’s a cheesy promotion and the Nats actually have done what many would think to be the impossible: display less class than Philadelphia fans.

***

For the lawyers in the audience, is this legal? It appears it is. I wonder if MLB will get grief for allowing an exclusive promotion even though it doesn’t appear to violate anyone’s rights.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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12 Responses to Nationals Ticket Promotion in Poor Taste

  1. Stu B

    “it doesn’t appear to violate anyone’s rights.”

    I’m not a lawyer, but doesn’t it infringe the rights of those without the appropriate addresses from buying tickets?

    And maybe it’s because the Mets are desperate to sell tickets, but there’s also a HERNANDEZ code for folks who bought tickets via StubHub. Maybe it’s not really a presale at all!

  2. DCGirl

    The Nationals have made it perfectly clear that this is a pre-sale promotion to local residents. When the pre-sale is over, sales will be opened up to everyone.

  3. Mike Silva

    Stu

    I know they are doing a ton of different promos – I would check to see what the price differentiation is….

  4. Mike Silva

    DCGirl

    Then what’s the point? I doubt that Nats fans will purchase this 3-game series in droves.

  5. Todd Boss

    Last time i checked, the Lerners owned the Washington Nationals, so presumably they can decide who they want to sell tickets to.

    I was at the opening day phillies game last year, when literally 90% of the stadium was drunken obnoxious Phillies fans who had been overserved for hours on a bus ride down, who cursed loudly, fought with each other, hurled insults at Washington fans (or, other fans who didn’t wear a Roy Halladay jersey that day), and who made that day one of the worst stadium experiences I’ve ever had. To say nothing of the fact that they booed the home team on its home opener, hurled non-stop insults at Jayson Werth and generally made that day an embarassment.

    If i’m the washington nationals owners, i’m doing everything In my power to prevent that scene from ever happening again, since i’m sure he lost many a paying customer and fielded many an irate email/phone call from his season ticket base. Myself included.

    so, if a couple of baseball bloggers who aren’t even from the two cities in question want to call them classless without this context? I’d say you’re just unaware of what really is going on here.

  6. Stu B

    Mike, I’m not checking any prices now. I’ll get my tickets close to the last minute on StubHub at below face value. That way, I don’t put any money in the Wilpons’ pockets and I can sit in the Delta Club for a reasonable price.

  7. Mike Silva

    Stu, I suspect that is a strategy that a majority of fans will employ.

  8. DCGirl

    I have to agree with Todd Boss. The Nationals are rebuilding a fan base after 34 years without a hometown team (as a fifth-generation Washingtonian, I never counted the Orioles as my team). At every game I’ve attended since the Nationals arrived in DC, there have always been fans of the other team. People from other parts of the country move here for jobs, and they enjoy the opportunity to see their hometown teams play here. My husband and I routinely buy tickets to see games with friends who are Saint Louis and Pittsburgh fans. Depending on what team the Nats are playing, Nats fans may be outnumbered. I’m thinking of the series against the Yankees at RFK Stadium in 2008, for example, when I was the rare red shirt in a sea of pinstripes, my husband being a lifelong Yankees fan. Diehard Nats fans understand that it’s going to take time to build the kind of fan base the team and the city deserve.

    Every other team’s fans are polite and respectful, and I’ve had some great conversations with them in the stands. And, up until two years ago, the Phillies fans were not bad. What happened was that a former executive of the team went on the radio in Philadelphia and encouraged Phillies fans to come down to DC for opening day that year. That’s when the godawful bus trips started. The Phillies fans arrive three sheets to the wind before they even walk in the stadium and the behavior goes downhill from there.

    As a fan, I understand that the pre-sale for one (count it, one) series against the Phillies is PR move on the part of the team, which has been roundly criticized by local fans after the radio appearance and invitation by our former executive. I also understand that giving priority to local fans for one series is not going to instantly fill every seat at the stadium with Nats fans. I also understand that all the DC area people who rooted for the Orioles in the years that DC didn’t have a team aren’t going to change 30+ years of loyalty. Ultimately, we need a winning team to bring the fans in, and I think that this could be the year when the DC area embraces the Nats in a way that it hasn’t up till now.

    All I want is to not be booed, heckled, and jeered by the asshat in a Phillies tee-shirt sitting behind me because I’m wearing a Nats tee shirt and cheering when my team gets a hit. I want to be able to ride the subway to and from games and not be backed into a corner of the subway car and insulted by a pack of drunk Phillies fans. My husband and I attended one game last year where we sat on a curb outside the park for close to an hour to let the Phillies fans clear out of Metro because it is genuinely scary to be in an enclosed space with them after their team loses.

  9. Mike Silva

    DC Girl

    I agree with you 100%. As I mentioned in the piece, some of my worst experiences at Shea/Citi were when Philadelphia comes to town. Everything you said about the Philly fan base is correct. I think my point- and you actually agreed with it in your post- is this presale promotion is not going to prevent what you described from happening. They can still buy tickets on eBay and Stub Hub and other mediums in the secondary market.

    It makes the Nats look petty and I think it does you, the fan, a disservice.

    As you said, it takes time to a build a fan base (Washington has a history of baseball mediocrity, which doesn’t help, of course), and you do it by putting a good product on the field.

    There was some justification to the intent, I just don’t think it will matter, and the double whammy is it makes the organization look petty and bush league; something I don’t think the Nats fans want or deserve.

  10. DCGirl

    It doesn’t make the organization look petty and bush league to local fans, and the local fans are the ones who matter in this promotion.

  11. Kurt Smith

    It’s a shame that Philly fans in general get such a horrible rep from some ass clowns that make the trip to DC. I live in the Philly area and most of the Phillies fans are perfectly nice people.

    As an Orioles fan who endured some obnoxious Yankees fans at Camden Yards, though, I fully appreciate how Nats fans feel.

    I think the GM for the Nats was just trying to do something to show whose corner he was in but it backfired on him.

  12. williamtheconquerorworm

    Don’t worry. Phillies fans will have lots of opportunity to buy tickets, from scalpers in the DC VA MD area who will snap them up and flip them on Ebay for a neat profit.

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