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Take me out to the $2 ball game

on May 14, 2009

Jane Campbell, 75, will not let the economy ruin baseball for her.

The senior adjusted her green and gold Oakland Athletics hat, clutched her tote bag and took a glance to see if the Fremont train was coming. She’s been a fan of the baseball team for more than 50 years and was on her way to the Wednesday game against the Kansas City Royals.“Fluctuate?” she said when asked about the trends of Oakland Athletics baseball ticket prices. “It’s on the rise. They’re always on the rise. Always.”

That’s a perception Zach Glare, marketing manager and the Oakland Athletics organization has been looking to change for about a decade. “Baseball is still affordable,” insisted Glare.  At least on Wednesdays.

For ten years, The Oakland Athletics have offered $2 tickets and $1 hotdogs for Wednesday games. But during these economic hardships- the popular promotion has taken on a new meaning- and a renewed appreciation.

“It’s been part of the A’s culture and experience,” said Glare. “It’s part of our values- we don’t price anyone out.”  On any other day, a fan can sit on the Plaza Outfield for $18, and in the Plaza Reserved for $9.

Promotions like $2 Wednesdays have allowed families to continue attending Oakland Athletics games.

Promotions like $2 Wednesdays have allowed families to continue attending Oakland Athletics games.

The promotion is successful, according to Glare. It helped sell out a Boston Red Sox game last April and fans looking to purchase discounted tickets against the Yankees this August will find that they are gone (and have been since shortly after opening day in April, according to Glare.)

Although the promotion may be nothing new – they have doubled the number of $2 seats to 9,000 seats. Economic conditions have helped fill them.

“For three dollars, you can have a bite to eat and watch a game. No where else can you do that for three dollars,” said Glare. “Anyone can afford to go to an A’s game.”

Campbell acknowledged- like many others waiting impatiently at MacArthur Bart Station wearing Jason Giambi jerseys looking for a trip to the Coliseum–that without these types of deals, she wouldn’t be going to many baseball games. Also, her son gave her a 10-game gift package for Mother’s Day. Other’s weren’t so lucky.

As the home team took the field in their familiar green and gold hats, the Plaza Reserved filled up quickly- mostly with families.

“It’s exactly why we came,” said Roger Urroz, 35-year-old from San Leandro who spent $10 to bring his two sons, a daughter and his wife to last night’s game.

For Urroz, fanaticism stopped when fatherhood began.

“With kids, I can’t bring them all at once. I used to have season tickets three children ago,” he said.

“It’s not just the ticket prices but then I have to feed them all. But if they keep doing these promotions, I’ll come out with m family. I need the discounted prices.”

Urroz spread relish and ketchup on a few hot dogs and distributed them among his family before finally prepping one for himself.

Long lines for $1 hot dogs is not a rare occurence Wednesday nights at the Coliseum.

Long lines for $1 hot dogs is not a rare occurence Wednesday nights at the Coliseum.

As part of $2 Wednesdays, the Oakland Athletics teamed up with BART to offer $1 hot dogs as well. Families have long criticized Major League Baseball for not making it affordable to bring their families. A bottle of water will cost 4.50. A hot dog can go as up to $8.

Vendors go up and down the aisle. “Churros!” one yelled. Another vendor walked around the seats undisturbed with a box full of popcorn. People busily unwrapped the dollar hot dogs stacked like a pyramid on their laps.

Fans are limited to 10, although there are loopholes to that policy. Many make multiple trips and it’s common to see fans in the Plaza Reserve using boxes – instead of plates, to hold their hot dogs.

“This is crazy nuts,” said Bill Rose, 36, into his cell phone referring to the long line. ahead of him. “I’ll see you in about 30 minutes,” says Rose before hanging up on his wife.

The UPS Manager works at Mountain House and since his finances are “wrapped up in a mortgage,” never comes out to many A’s game. “But you can’t beat the $2 ticket. That’s why I’m here.”

He sacrificed three innings to finally get to the front of the line.  Oops. They were sold out.  He opened his cell phone. “I want to find out how hungry she really is,he said explaining his next call.   By that time the score was 1 to 0, Athletics were down.  The A’s went on to come back and win 7 to 2.

No matter.  It was the experience that most fans enjoyed. And the price, they said, was right.

Campbell the 75-year-old fan cited price tickets for certain seats in Yankee Stadium as a sign of the disparity between the sport Americans love to play but can’t afford to watch.
“It’s a crime,” Campbell said. “You know how much money it costs to get into those seats? It’s criminal.”


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