Friday, December 15, 2006

Is The Gouge On?


Nats320
For the second time in 10 Days, The Lerner's have surprised me with little moves, never announced, that, in the long run--not only take extra cash out of my pocket, but yours as well.

Last week, I commented that when I checked online at Nationals.com and My Account, it came to my attention that The Washington Nationals are forcing ALL FULL SEASON TICKET HOLDERS to buy the upcoming March 31st Exhibition Game against the Baltimore Orioles at RFK Stadium. Yes, its a Charity Game, and I have gone in the past, but I should not be TOLD to buy that game, or anyone else for that matter, when its a game that does not count in the standings--its meaningless. So, why take a chance of pissing off your MOST LOYAL CUSTOMERS. 40 Game and 20 Game Plans were not told to buy this game. Quite a few fans read that post and some made comments.

Yesterday, I received my 2007 Season Ticket Renewal Package in the mail, with complete details. During the Inaugural Season of 2005, Parking for both Season Ticket Holders and Drive Up Daily Game Parking was $10 for everyone--no difference. Which for Season Ticket Holders, was a total waste of time purchasing the Parking Plan in advance. If you missed a game, The Nationals will not let you use a parking pass for any other game. They are game specific.

So--to help alleviate this problem in 2006, and put a few extra dollars in MLB's hands and the New Owners, after the sale of the team--Parking for Season Ticket Holders remained at $10 per game--Drive Up Daily Game Parking went up $2 to $12. Fine. It wasn't much of a difference. An odd price though, but I lived with it. The African Queen and I tend to take Metro mostly on the Workdays and Drive In from Alexandria for all other games.

Last fall, I asked Management whether it would be possible to buy a Partial Parking Plan, good for "X" number of games, not DATE EXCLUSIVE, that Sohna and I could use on any game where we may want to drive to RFK. Or, if we so desired, gave Multiple Parking Passes to friends attending any one game. We were told that the team would look into a "Partial Plan" but the Date Exclusivity must remain in place, because there is only so many parking spots at RFK (8,000 the last time I checked). The Nationals fearing that more folks might drive in on a certain date, with the generic parking passes, and overload the lots--thus turning people away from the gates.

Although I find that reasoning a little short sighted, I appreciated the fact that The Nationals would consider a "Partial Parking Plan" for Season Ticket Holders. Never in 2 seasons have I seen the entire parking lots at RFK SOLD OUT. Not once.

My Season Ticket Information Packet stated that for 2007, Season Ticket Parking will now be $12 per game, but no mention what the Daily Drive Up Cost might be. Or, whether there will be a Partial Plan. MickNats and I exchanged Phone Messages and Emails over this--wanting to know all the costs.

So-I emailed my ticket rep and asked what the daily rate would be, and what happened to the possible partial plans. This was the reply:

"We did raise the parking to $12 per game for season ticket holders. The game day price will be $15 per game. Unfortunately we will not have partial parking plans available."

$15!!! $15!!! I actually had to read that twice, then get the African Queen to read it again, for clarification. I was stunned!! All at a time, I thought the parking cost would just remain the same, just like most other ticket costs. I thought the Lerners were trying to attract fans, build a fan base--not make it more costly to attend. And, once again, Season Ticket Holders, those that are the most faithful and attend the most reguarly, are being singled out to PAY MORE--no matter whether you take The Season Parking Plan or do it Ad Hoc.

If Our Washington Nationals can't offer a Partial Plan, fine--but $15 to park at RFK is getting a little greedy. At a time when the team is dumping salary to rebuild for the future, lowering ticket prices to all but the most expensive seats, and flat out stating we will not compete, in all likelihood in 2007--The Nationals raise Parking at RFK to count up some additional cash. I would have to be completely shortsighted if I didn't expect some drastic price changes beginning in 2008 on South Capitol Street, not only for parking, but ticket prices as well. But, really, is this necessary, right now?

DC UNITED, still today, charges just $10 for the very same lots. Since its obvious The Washington Nationals will not control virtually any of the Parking Lots on South Capitol Street--is this a last stab to get as much as possible? What about the floated rumor that Fans can park at RFK in 2008 and take a free shuttle bus to the New Stadium? Does anyone think this will endear them to the idea? Not me. Its a very troubling sign.

Shades of Danny Boy in Landover.

Is The Gouge On??

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a fan that drives to every game and doesn't attend enough games to make the full parking pass cost effective, this DEFINITELY has me worried. $15 to park at a baseball game is too much. I thought $12 last season was too much. If they're not going to spend on players this season (which I'm fine with and fully support), they could at least take it easy on the fans.

Usually a new ownership group gets a honeymoon with the fanbase. Of course, the easiest way to end that honeymoon quickly is to start charging the fans more. It would be nice if they're going to wait until the new stadium for better players, they could wait for higher prices as well.

--JohnnieDamon

Farid @ The Beltway Boys said...

To me, getting nickel and dimed to death is far more painful than having ticket prices raised a significant amount. What's the old saing -- 'Death by a thousand knives?'

About the only thing the Nationals can do to lose me as a fan would be to screw the fan base. It seems that the Nats will begin the season with a $40 million dollar payroll. Why then, would they short-change the fans in the parking lot, or at the concession stand, etc.

If the Lerners keep the payroll around $85 million or so, then sure, rip us off all you want. But at $40 million????

mszimmy said...

UGH! This is so annoying. Like JohnnyDamon said already, we drive to every game (it's way faster than waiting for metro to take us back out to New Carrollton). I didn't see the reason for the $2 increase last year, and another $3 increase this year is just stupid. What are they going to do next? Tell us we can't bring any food or water into the stadium, so that we have to buy everything there? So far, I'm not too impressed with the Lerners.

Screech's Best Friend said...

MsZimmy: If Ownership decides to NOT ALLOW fans to bring in food in 2007--that will piss me off more than ANYTHING ELSE. The African Queen and I don't eat JUNK FOOD--which is pretty much all that's available at RFK. The Food issue would destroy so much of our enjoyment.

I like Mr. Kasten alot, fearing The Lerners alot more

PS--Did you get anything in the mail?.

mszimmy said...

When I read your blog, the first thing that came to mind was the food issue. They basically let you bring in anything you want right now, which is awesome. If they start limiting that, it would be awful. The food isn't that great to begin with, it's bad for you, and it costs too much. Hopefully the food situation will not change.

We haven't received anything yet, but we haven't been home yet today. I cannot wait until it gets to us!!!

El Gran Color Naranja said...

It's an old trick to lower (or actually usually maintain) ticket prices but raise parking. Parking revenues can be assigned to another corporation and the team can look like it is more lacking in funds than it is. Actually they can do this with any money generator but to show Nats revenue and not include ticket sales would be asinine. (though Wayne Huizenga did that with the Marlins...of course he is an ass...

Paying for parking at a stadium has always vexed me. Wasn't the parking put there specifically so people can go to your stadium? Do you honestly believe other modes of transportation (cabs, horses?, walking?) are viable alternatives? In major metro areas I can see a case being made but every venue does this for every event....

Eddie Cunningham said...

Although parking fees won't affect me that much since I normally take Metro to games, I'm disappointed in the Lerners. Keep in mind there are many fans in the D.C. area who would not dream of rooting for the Ravens over the Redskins yet still consider the Baltimore Orioles their "home" team despite all that Peter Angelos has done to prevent baseball from coming to Washington. In other words, the Nats' fanbase is currently shallow and needs to GROW. Pissing off die-hard season ticket holders like SBF is the last thing the Nats should do.

And speaking of Angelos, I should say one (surprising) thing in his defense. The Orioles under his watch have tried to keep ticket prices down and the Birds are one of the few teams that do NOT charge extra for "premium" games (whenever the Yanks or Bosox are in town). The last thing this town needs is another Dan Snyder...

Screech's Best Friend said...

Eddie: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. It makes no sense to me that The Lerners are making every effort, when it comes to money, to alienate, their most passionate followers--at a time they need to BUILD The FAN BASE. I really don't understand it.

And, its true, The Orioles are a cheaper option on a daily game basis. Sohna and I can park at a Baltimore City Lot for $10, one block from Camden Yards and sit in seats comparable to ours for the same price or less. Of course we have to drive there also, but its such a GREAT PARK!!! Its worth the drive--sometimes, just not reguarly, or on a worknight.

Eddie Cunningham said...

Of course, the Lerners could argue that D.C. is a more expensive town than Baltimore, but the Orioles are legitimate COMPETITION for their fans dollars. The Ravens currently are not, so Danny Boy can afford to gogue Redskins fans as much as he does. (Although I would not be surprised to see SOME fans switch colors from burgundy and gold to purple and black if the Skins' decline continues and the Ravens' request to be put on DC local radio stations is granted.)

On another subject...have you seen the new paintings depicting the finished new stadium? I love the cherry blossoms in left field! (Too bad I still see no plans for a Walter Johnson statue.) The only mistake I see is the Canadian flagpole in center field. If the Nats were to play the Blue Jays or some other team from a foreign country, MLB protocol requires both flags to be flown at the same level. In other words, the two side flagpoles would be used and the center one would be empty.

Oops! Nearly forgot to post the link!

Eddie Cunningham said...

One more thought. One of the biggest complaints about RFK was the concessions, and because of this, the Lerners went to great trouble to get lots of different food vendors and add a new "food court" on the balcony overlooking the front of the stadium. I would imagine that the Hard Times Café would not be happy to see me walking around with a sub I bought from Santucci's Deli at Woodmoor Shopping Center. They already prohibit fans from bringing soda or alcohol into the stadium. So I can understand them if they decide to prohibit food. (They should remember though that THEIR COMPETITION allows it.)

But the parking fees looks like it is being penny wise and pound foolish. If the Lerners are doing this because they need to increase their revenue flow while they are at RFK, they should come right out and say so. But they need to do everything in their power to hang on to the die-hard faithful, ESPECIALLY the ones who are currently season ticket holders and who ACTUALLY GO TO THE GAMES.

Maybe I should include this in the Hanukkah card I plan to send to the Lerners. (I'm not Jewish, but I know they are...)

Screech's Best Friend said...

Eddie: Those were some FABULOUS COMMENTS, especially about the Hannakah Card. Terrific. And, Actually, I had downloaded all the new CGI Renditions of the new stadium and am going to blog on it next. Those pix are fabulous. As I have said for some time, If the glass and stone works as well as NEW WEMBLEY STADIUM, outside London, this field will ROCK!!

Your comments are GREAT!! I really appreciate them.

Brandon Kriner said...

WHOA! The 50% increase in parking fees over two seasons is shocking. And you're right, it's not like space is a premium at RFK.

I think this plan is going to backfire on the Lerners because it will simply cause people to take Metro or carpool. Hey, people are used to SLUGging to work, why not to Nats games?

Most of the Nats fans are from the suburbs so why not set up impromptu SLUG sites? If you put 4 people in a car it's only three bucks and change per carload.

*Sigh* This is depressing.

Anonymous said...

How do I post here as other than anonymous. It seems like I have to have my own blog to post here under my own name. Is there any other way to do it?

MissChatter said...

Maybe it's so the parking money-takers don't have to deal with all those annoying $1 bills :-) Of course, if that's the case, they could just drop it back down to $10. I was irritated enough last season to find the price raised. And now again?!

Simon Oliver Lockwood said...

It might be the case that they are trying to prep the fanbase for the dramatic increase in parking costs that will occur once the new stadium opens and there isn't the 8000 spot parking lot right next door.

I can imagine that parking at the Navy Yard in 2008 might be $25 for the privilege of putting your car on someone's front lawn. Not to mention the extra $20 to the friendly gentleman who offers to "watch" your car for you when you're at the game.

MaximusToo said...

Well, the $5 seats where you can basically move wherever you want are going to make this attempted bilking a wash for me.

I am going to email Kasten and let him know this sucks. You should too.

Stan.Kasten@nationals.com

I actually got a reply last time I emailed, so it is a monitored account, even if not read by Stan himself.

Anonymous said...

You forgot the $20 "processing fee".

Enjoying the blog -