Buying tickets from the Atlanta Braves in 2013, a lot like buying tickets in 2003.
Opening Day of the baseball season. It should be a national holiday. At the very least I always take the day off work. It's a special day when every true baseball fan wants to be at the ballpark. So it's understandable that teams, including the Atlanta Braves, make tickets to that game more expensive than other games. It's also understandable, though massively frustrating, that the Braves make you buy a "ticket-pack" in order to purchase opening day tickets.
So armed with that knowledge I set about to purchase my five-game pack for the upcoming season. "Whoa, you're going to just five games," you might ask. No, I'll go to plenty of additional games, I just know enough about baseball in Atlanta to know that I need not pre-buy tickets to all the games I want to go to -- there will be (more than) plenty available at much lower prices.
With the announcement today that the Braves will be retiring Chipper Jones' number, I officially had five games that I would pre-pay to see:
Monday, April 1st v. Phillies - Opening Day
Thursday, May 30th v. Blue Jays - Freddie Freeman Bobblehead
Thursday, June 20th v. Mets - B.J. Upton Bobblehead
Friday, June 28th v. D-Backs - Chipper Number Retirement Ceremony
Saturday, July 27th v. Cards - 80s replica cap
Yeah, I like freebies... and toys. (And Chippah.)
I went to the Braves site, clicked on tickets, then clicked the 'Buy Tickets' button under the Five-Game Pack, then... then I searched for a link to buy tickets online. And nothing. So I went away frustrated thinking maybe I just didn't see it. I came back to the site later in the day, and after searching around again, finally decided to click to chat with a ticket person:
My first question to the ticket person, and her response:
Martin: Can I buy a 5-ticket pack online? I don't see where you can.
(Ticket Person): Hi Martin! You cannot buy a 5 pack online this week, but I would be happy to help you put one together. Do you know which games you would like to attend?
What!?! Can't buy tickets online? What year is this?
Being prepared, I copy and pasted the list of games I wanted to attend into the chat window and asked for Club Level. Of course, the only Club Level they have for the five-game pack is outfield club, which is in the outfield and crap. So I deferred to Terrace Infield, which are the seats underneath the Club Level, and more or less behind the infield.
It took at least eight or nine minutes for her to pull together the seats for each game, enter them into the chat window, and ask if that was okay with me. I admittedly threw a curve ball in there by asking for all even numbered seats, so two of the dates had to be searched for again.
In total the chat session lasted just over 22 minutes. That's 22 minutes of my time and a representative's time, and (A) I type fast, (B) knew exactly which games I wanted, and (C) knew generally where I wanted to sit, and had some idea about price. For most people I would imagine the process might be longer. I can't imagine how long it would take for a 10-game pack. The price, by the way, was $472, which includes a $6 handling fee.
This is the digital age, and I know the Braves have a sophisticated online ticketing system that allows you to select the games you want and even the seats you want. Why, again, is this not available now? The rep only tried to up-sale me once, with parking, so there doesn't seem to be a concerted effort to push people into more games or more tickets.
This overall ticket purchasing process was horribly cumbersome. There may be some people who like the personal touch, but I just prefer to enter the games, click the seats I want, and see if the total is something I would be willing to pay. That whole process, including entering my credit card info, probably wouldn't have taken half as long as this chat session took.
Part of this frustration is a desire to get decent seats to Opening Day, and the fact that I must spend the money and commit to at least four additional games to make this happen. And the irony of this entire post is not lost on me... the Braves fan complaining about buying tickets to see the Braves. I should want to go to every game, right? I like baseball, and I like Turner Field, but I would probably go postal if I had to hear "everybody clap your hands" 80+ times a year on the PA system which is turned up several times louder than it should be.
As I said in the beginning, I also know that cheap tickets from resellers, and special ticket deals will make the ultimate price of tickets to games throughout the season much cheaper than this initial cost. This is like buying a new car -- as soon as you get the tickets they're not worth as much as you paid for them.
The thought crossed my mind to just get tickets for opening day from a reseller, and then look for cheap deals throughout the season for the other games I want to go to. I'm also well aware that under $50 a ticket for lower bowl in any stadium is a pretty good deal, and I'll ultimately probably buy these tickets (I have 24 hours). But I'm annoyed by this process... as you can see.
I guess I just feel as though the Braves should make it as easy as possible to get tickets to games, instead of turning the technology dial back ten years and forcing you into ticket packages. Of course, these tickets are only a few dollars less than face value, so why wouldn't I wait? Overpay for Opening Day, then underpay for everything else.
What are you thoughts? Has anyone else had a similar experience? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? (Don't answer that last one.)
[UPDATE 1pm 2/20/13]
Apparently single game tickets for ALL GAMES will go on sale Monday the 25th of February at 10am. So I'm going with that option for Opening Day tickets. Maybe they'll have the online system working for that...
And actually, I just got an email from the "Braves Beat," which is the Braves email list, and if you're a member of that list, then you can buy tickets to individual games starting this Friday the 22nd at 10am. Go to the Braves.com home page, scroll to the bottom, then click the email icon to sign up for the Braves Beat email. Happy hunting.