Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Covering Seats for Intimacy and Profit

Salem's newly-named ballfield will have seats at the ends of each of its general admission sections covered with tarps (above), reducing capacity to 4,968. Ryan Kalish (below) is one of two Red Sox who wears red socks>

If somebody takes you out to the ballgame Thursday night--the opening day at the newly-named Lewis-Gale Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark--you'll notice a couple of distinct changes. One will be the park's color scheme, which is now Red Sox red and blue and the other that four sections of seats are covered with logo-laden tarps.

The color scheme is easy to explain; the tarp not so much, unless you're a cynic. My guess is that the management has blocked off a whole bunch of seats it could have sold on opening day, but even worse is that it is moving the fans in the crowd into each other's laps. The business reason here seems clear: the effort to move fans from less expensive general admission seats ($7, same as last year) to more expensive reserved ($8, which is new) and box ($9, which is $1 more than a year ago), even as capacity is diminished by 1,074 seats. The potential is there to shrink general admission even further by covering more seats, one club official said.

I don't like tight crowds and on most nights in Salem, you can spread out, chat with the people in your party and not have a kid with a long horn blowing it into your ear. None of that will be a given this year.

Short Pants

At media day today, I noticed that most of the Red Sox minor leaguers wore their pants in the fashion of the parent club's players: like pajamas, drooping down over their spikes. There were two exceptions, a newly-arrived Hispanic player whose name nobody seemed to know and Ryan Kalish, a four-year veteran outfielder from New Jersey. Ryan says he likes the knickers length of pants because "I like to be unique" and "the longer pants feel slower."

Ryan says the Red Sox organization allows players to wear the length of pants they like, but other organizations--he cited Cincinnati and Baltimore, whose Class A Frederick Keys will open against Salem Thursday--require players to wear the old-style knickers (which I like much, much better).

In any case, knickers or jammies, cheap seats or expensive seats, I hope to see you at the ballpark soon.

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