I started writing this in April, but put it aside for lack of material! But, since then, I’ve had a few ideas. And, in talking with fans about the park have learned about what the people want. So, some of this is mine, and some of it I gathered from the collective. Please add additional points below, in the comments section.
As I noted recently, there is growing unrest in the porking lots. Folks are more frustrated with the lack of space, but mostly, with the $3. Rumor has it, it will be $5 next year. I’m not sure that’s true, but even if it’s not, folks that come often are growing weary of the $3 every single time. Plus, just try to get a credit slip if the game is rained out.
Suggestion: Sell pre-paid passes to season ticket holders at a discount equal to one game for every nine. Nine game plans get pre-paid parking for $3×8; 18-game plans for $3×16; and so on. Pre-paid and unused parking will pay for the credits, and people who go all the time will feel like they’re not getting gouged on the parking. Heck, you could probably even discount it $1 per game and make it up on the pre-pay. Plus, with less cash (wait, this might not be an advantage) around, you don’t have to worry about pilfering as much. And, if you’re really going to go to $5, let folks buy in at the old rate.
2. Batting Practice Party (season ticket holders)
It’s kinda cool, and the kids enjoy it. Some deep-fried hors d’oeuvres and free soda to go with happy-hour draft beer. The occasional home-run baseball. It’s all good. A recent improvement was the addition of a second date, which is handy in the case of rain, or if the teams don’t feel like taking BP (the party goes on, but it’s MUCH less interesting).
Suggestion: First, make sure all the ticket holders who want to come and are qualified get invited. For the amount of quality photographs taken, Cheryl Pursell should get to go to ALL of them next season, if she wants. Second, I would suggest that the “party” move to a designated area behind home plate, perhaps including section 112 or so. We’d have to be kicked out early so that the ushers could prepare the section, and there would have to be a portable bar moved in, but we’d be able to appreciate the skill and work that the players put in prior to the game. In the outfield I can’t see well, and I’m always a little worried about getting hit with a ball.
3. Majestic Clubhouse Store Discounts for season ticket holders
Folks who are at the park all the time spend more money at the store on IronPigs gear.
Suggestion: The more tickets you buy, the bigger the discount. 5% for 9-game plans; 10% for 18-game plans; 15% for 36 game plans; 20% for 72 game plans. C’mon. I’m not going to put them out of business. I already have all the hats…
4. More on the Bobbles
It still comes up. Over and over again. People are stressed about the giveaways, and that stress is creating problems for other suggestions (see below). Yes, you can buy a giveaway package if you’re a season ticket holder, but $150 is s a lot. And not all of us are 5-year plan holders (they get a giveaway pack free). But if we can find a way to calm the stress, everyone will be happier.
Suggestion: Find a way to provide some additional value-added for the sponsors so that they’ll be able to afford to provide for additional giveaways each time. I’m not saying 10,000 of them, but it should be more reasonable for someone to walk up, buy a ticket, and know that he/she’s going to get the giveaway without standing in line from 2PM. Oh, so you like that the giveaways are difficult to come by? I don’t think it creates pent-up demand, just makes more work for the ushers and the parking guys and creates unhappiness with the more casual fans. If giveaways are more available, there will be fewer people selling them on Ebay, and fewer people selling their seats for a profit on those nights.
5. Season Ticket Holder Entrance
In Reading, Season Ticket holders can enter 15 minutes early through a special gate, get the giveaway, something to eat, and find a nice table in the plaza to relax and eat before the game. In Allentown, club level ticket holders can enter 15 minutes early through a special gate, get the giveaway, get a table in the club, and relax with something to eat before the game. Sounds familiar, right? I figure they can’t open the plaza to season ticket holders at the main entrance to the Coke because the season ticket holders would exhaust all the giveaways and the more casual fans would never have a chance.
Suggestion: Make a Season Ticket holder entrance at the main gate, but make sure you have enough giveaways (see above). Let field level plan holders of whatever level (full-season? 36 games?) have at the ATT Plaza 15 minutes early. Everybody wins!
6. Take Care of the Ticket Holders
This was to be a separate post entirely, and I think I’ll repeat it prior to next season, but elements keep coming up, so I’ll try a brief version here:
I’m not familiar with what benefits might be available to different ticket holder plan levels, but as a four-seat 72-game club ticket holder, here’s what I get each year (these aren’t secret, right?):
Free gift when I pick up my tickets (coffee mugs this year), a coupon book, free preferred parking pass (this is only for 4-seat club), guaranteed giveaway (where appropriate, ie adult, child, etc.) through usually the sixth or seventh inning (at least), two batting practice parties (usually a Friday or a Saturday night), All Star Game ticket holder party, Yankee home games for free this past year, 222 game at the Coke for free, ability to BUY playoff or all-star or championship tickets ahead of time, ability to BUY concert tickets ahead of time, a modicum of advance Phillies or playoff Phillies ticket access, $15/seat “renewal” ballpark credit at seasons’ end.
Suggestion: Better communication with Season Ticket Holders. Email can get lost, and when stuff’s announced (letter with the tickets when I pick them up) the items aren’t always ready yet; then I have to remember to ask for them. The $15 ballpark credit was buried in the middle of an email about a myriad other things, then it wasn’t available the first time I asked for it. The method for better communication is through the ticket “reps.” These nice folks should act as a kind of “concierge” for the ticket holders. There should be enough of them, and they should be empowered to communicate and follow-up with their stable of season ticket holders to ensure that things are going smoothly, and to address any needs or concerns that the best customers might have. It should be their job to assure that the ticket holders are aware of the benefits, and have an opportunity to take advantage of them. We’re not only your best customers (for tickets, food and drink, and gear), but we’re ambassadors in the community for your business. Take care of us and we’ll take care of you.
(footnote: I know Justin left during the season, and in theory, could have been “on the way out” for a while. No excuse. If there were enough other reps, his group could have been picked up more seamlessly. All due credit to Ben, who picked me up and took care of all my goofy demands.)
I enjoy all of the above benefits; I do. Only the Phillies stuff is questionable, and that’s not necessarily something under the IronPigs’ control. What more could they do? Well, here’s a couple of things (hey, you’re getting a free “focus group” here, aren’t you?):
- an entrance (see above)
- a pre-season preview party or autograph session with players
- some kind of consideration with the parking (see above)
- a better discount plan for the Majestic Clubhouse Store (see above)
- a “ticket exchange” (we’ve been over this before) where tickets could be bought and sold under the control of the team
- ability to use unused ticket credits for weekend games, as well as maybe the playoff games. If you can only get as many trades as you have per game seats, then if will have a minor impact, but increase convenience.
- a “make a wish”-type benefit. Wanna be a Tilted-Kilt Ball Girl? Wanna run in the Pork Race? Wanna be in the Red Robin Hamburger Shuffle? Wanna play third base? (just kidding) Wanna deliver the lineup card? Wanna pretend you’re the Toyota Tyke on the Mike? Wanna be on the radio with Matt and Jon? (OK, we have that) Wanna be a “dirt dude?” Wanna help rake the field? (see, free labor!) I could go on…
7. Upgrade the Panels
There will be a “new” stadium opening in Moosic in 2013. Then, a totally new one in Charlotte in 2014. If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.
So here’s what we need:
- a bigger video board. I know it’s nice. But have you seen how bright and crisp they are at the MLB parks? We have the most people, we need the nicest board. Think 85% of the people aren’t watching the baseball? I bet 100% of people watch that board.
- ribbon the whole place. I looked at that scoreboard ribbon a bunch this season–mostly for pitching changes and substitutions. It worked great. There’s a space on the club balcony front fascia to put a ribbon all the way around. It would give the park a real MLB feel.
- better panels on the concourses. Nicer, bigger, and brighter TVs to keep up with the game(s) when you’re not in your seat. Especially at the bars. Oh, and make sure there’s a clean, HD video signal in there. There’s no excuse for blurry TVs in 2013.
8. Pregame Stuff
Well, we’ll visit this 80% entertainment / 20% baseball thing later on, but here’s something for the baseball crowd:
Suggestion: Make the TV2 pregame show available on the flat screens at the bars (Tiki, Trough, Club) WITH AUDIO. And, for the media department, make the pre- and post-game interviews available for podcast-type download.
9. Tailgate Friendly
Oh, I know there are some problems with this suggestion. Liability, expense, and all, but:
Suggestion: Take some of the grassy areas around the parking lots, and create more of a park-like setting. Perhaps a small pavilion, some fire pits, maybe some horseshoe pits, hibachis?
I know, I know. There are so many problems with this suggestion. But, it’s what I want. They could restrict charcoal to the fire pits and hibachis, and I would be more willing to bring a group to the park, and….oh, they’d rather not have the expense and liability, plus they’d like me in the park spending money. Got it.
OK, I’ve only got 9. Who else has one?