One beautiful Wednesday in mid-June, I walked through the South Gate at Everett Memorial Stadium and joined the queue for the Meet the Team BBQ. As I was eating my meal, several of the front office personnel stopped to talk to me and called me by my name. After a few minutes the new coaching staff and players stepped up to the mike and introduced themselves to the assembled Season Ticket holders and MVP Club members.
To understand why this was such a novel experience, I need to explain that I was a Season Ticket Holder with the Seattle Mariners Major League club for almost 15 years and no one ever greeted me by my name. I was just a number.
In the middle of the AquaSox 2017 season, I attended my first minor league game at the behest of long term fan. Boy was that fun. On my right I saw children and families playing on inflatable toys and running in the park, people standing enjoying a beer or a dog and lots of employees walking around with smiles on their faces taking the time to chat with the assorted fans.
As I walked toward my seat, I scanned the open food vendors. The offerings were standard ballpark fare; hotdogs, pizza, hamburgers, popcorn and the like. What was most definitely not standard for my Major League jaded eyes, was the prices. Like the cost of the ticket, the cost of food and drinks was money I was willing to spend. My friend was right. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and with costs as low as 9$, the average family can afford to regularly attend a professional baseball game. The average game at Safeco Field cost me about $100 each; including ticket, parking (sometimes as much as 60$), food and transportation costs.
By the 3rd inning of that game I made my way to the Frontier Info booth (centrally located, I didn’t have to search for it) and was directed to the Season Ticket Holder Info booth where I picked up the information for costs/benefits and seat locations for the 2018 season.
Flash forward to September 2017. I had made my first payment and had selected my seat which I was able to do in person and by trying each location for my personal preference rather than at an assigned time over the internet. When I was at the AquaSox office that day, the general manager Danny actually stopped to talk to me!
A few weeks later I was invited to a World Series viewing party as part of my new Season Ticket Holder benefits. This was followed by a dinner at Tulalip Casino to watch our parent club open up their season. In May of this year, they had a Season Ticket Holder ticket book Pick Up Party with burgers and food provided. I was greeted by my name by most of the people there that day.
The coolest thing of all happened on the day following the Meet the Team BBQ on Opening Day for the 2018 Season. After getting into the park 30 min early, I got my traditional Opening Day meal of chicken strips/fries and water, I made my way over to my new seat. On the back of the seat was a small plaque with my name on it proclaiming it to be MY seat. Periodically throughout that game and the others I have attended since, my account rep and several others from the front office stop by to say hello, chat about the game and how I am doing that day.
It is absolutely refreshing and awesome to be treated as a PERSON. A person who is valued for the support you are giving the club and for who you are. It’s not the tangible things that are the benefits of this level. The Short Season Single A experience is not glamourous, fancy or surrounded with luxuries. Its something better and altogether more satisfying. It is an intimate, relaxing and above all fun way to experience what is after all a game. The way baseball was meant to be experienced before the corporate era and the business mentality had consumed baseball at the Major League level.
The game is still a game and I am no longer just a number. I love my new home in Everett rooting for the AquaSox!