This morning, single game tickets (including Opening Day) went on sale for fans who had pre-registered their e-mail address. The Indians announced that within 11 minutes of the 10 a.m. on-sale start time, the home opener had sold out. This left a lot of fans who were hoping to score tickets enraged and/or disappointed. Especially since some fans went onto the Indians’ site right at 10 a.m. and were already told tickets were gone by 10:02 or 10:03.
Let’s talk a little bit about this, and about the home opener in general. I know it’s splitting hairs, but tickets were technically on sale before 10 a.m. this morning. Starting last Thursday morning at 10 a.m., season ticket holders were able to purchase Opening Day tickets (and other single game tickets as well). Then last Friday morning, tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. to Progressive employees. I’m guessing they probably capped those first two on-sales, to leave some tickets available for this morning. But it’s tough to tell how many tickets were actually available as of 10 a.m. today. Season tickets holders usually receive a password in advance of their on-sale date, just like the registered fans did for this morning. This year they did not – they had to log into their account in order to buy Opening Day tickets, limiting how many they could purchase (and preventing them from sharing their password).
Since I have a 20-game plan, I was able to go in and buy tickets for my dad and I last Thursday morning. I will need to sell plasma in order to pay the credit card bill when it comes due, but at least I was able to score some tickets. We’re sitting very close to where we sat for Opening Day 2014, but I paid about $30 more per ticket than I did last year. We have pretty nice seats, but I heard that even nosebleeds were going for a pretty nice chunk of change.
One of the other elephants in the room here – the Indians removed quite a few seats this offseason during the construction project. I’ve heard varying numbers about the decrease in total seats, anywhere from about 5,000 to 7,000. It likely plays in to why the price was so steep for Opening Day, the whole idea of supply and demand. For the rest of the weekend (when they’ll probably be lucky to draw 10,000 fans, particularly if the weather is bad) removing all of those seats will once again look like a more reasonable idea. Why keep them if nobody’s really sitting in them? But for premium events like the home opener, it creates a scarcity. Just imagine if the Indians were lucky enough to make the playoffs; we’ll be seeing this all over again. Part of this also plays back to the fact that the Indians would rather sell more season ticket packages. That’s why they make single game prices so cheap within season ticket packages, and it’s why they get an Opening Day on-sale date 4-5 days before everyone else.
So why does the home opener become such a big deal? Why is it so important to go to that game, compared to the rest of the opening series (the last two games of which, will probably see sparse attendance)? Part of it is simply tradition – you’ve gone every year, so you continue to go. A big part for me is that you’re so excited that baseball is back, you just can’t wait to get down to the ballpark. (Although I am planning to go the next day as well). And I think another part of it is that it becomes a big party. People go downtown early, the stadium is full, everyone is brimming with early-season excitement and optimism. It’s always more fun to be part of a sell-out crowd, as compared to having your own section to yourself.
There are some downsides though – first of all, it’s a ton more expensive than every other game. For what you’ll have to pay for parking and the ticket, you probably could’ve afforded to go to several games instead. And since the home opener is usually during the day on a weekday, it’s almost impossible to find free parking, since the meters are still running. While the large crowds can be fun, they can also be a burden. It’s wall-to-wall people no matter where you go, and usually most of those people have been drinking quite a bit. One year my dad and I went downtown early for the home opener, to beat some of the crowds and to have lunch before we headed to the ballpark for the 3:05 start time. At noon, I went to use the ladies room in one of the bars downtown and there was already someone passed out on the floor, three hours before the game was supposed to start. Opening Day is “amateur hour” in many ways – with people who drink too much and can’t hold their liquor, and with people who barely watch another Indians game all season. Plus over the past 10 years or so, most of the home openers have had some combo of terrible weather, a terrible game, or some combo of both.
But still, as much as I’d like to save the money and the hassle, I still jump at the chance to go to the home opener every year. Because at that point you’re so excited that baseball is back, you’d put up with almost any annoyance just for the chance to see it.