Today Neal and I will go to the Giants’ last home game of the year. Been a better year than I expected, with one sensational highlight: I saw my first no-hitter.
I got my first season-ticket package back in 1984. They sold partial plans in those days … mine was for 17 games, maybe 19, can’t remember. I got rights to the All-Star game, which was held at Candlestick that year. That was also the year I quit my job at the factory, which meant our family income dropped considerably until Robin started making the big bucks. So I didn’t renew my plan in ‘85. Don’t recall when I started up again. I do know that I managed to go to the 1987 and 1989 post-season games, and by the time they returned to the playoffs in ‘97, I’m pretty sure I was back to having some kind of plan (and went to that series, as well).
When the Giants moved to China Basin, I knew I couldn’t really afford season tickets. The prices were higher than at Candlestick, and you had to buy a full 81-game package. But then, just before down payments were due, a Berkeley professor got promoted to Dean, his class (20th century American Literature, I think it was) was open, and I volunteered to teach it, even though I was teaching two other classes at the time. They gave me the job, I decided the extra money was just about right for baseball, and the next thing I knew, I had my season tickets in the upper deck directly behind home plate.
And for ten seasons, now, I’ve been sitting in those seats. Seen some great moments, many of them Bonds-related. The best was probably Game Five of the 2002 World Series.
The ticket prices haven’t risen much. This year, I paid $36/pair per game, which among other things is less than what you’d pay if you bought them as single-game tix. I wouldn’t call it a bargain, exactly, but certainly better than some teams offer, especially considering my seats are halfway decent.
The first couple of seasons at the new park, my seats were never empty. Any time I couldn’t go, I had no trouble selling or donating the extras. After the novelty wore off, it got harder to sell them off, but I still had plenty of chances to check out games with family and friends, who were always glad I had the tix. What really hurt was when the team turned mediocre … then I not only had problems selling my extras, I had a hard time convincing anyone to go with me when I could make the game.
Which leads me to 2009, and by extension, 2010. I was gone for most of a month this season, which cut into the number of games I could attend, but also, even with the team’s improved performance, I didn’t notice much of an increase in the interest of the people I know. I wasn’t able to go to as many games, and sometimes I’d feel like going but didn’t look forward to dragging myself alone to a night game, so I’d sit at home and enjoy Kruk and Kuip on the big HDTV. I sold more tickets than I had for a few years … somewhere out there, people were interested again … but overall, it was a tough season for a season ticket holder who has been unemployed since May.
It’s not like I’m destitute. We’ve haven’t lived on my paycheck for 25 years. In fact, while unemployment checks are a comedown from what I was making at ARC, I actually make a little more now than I did when I taught at SF State. Still, there’s no denying the fact that we have less extra income than we used to.
And so … at some point, I’ll have to decide about 2010 season tickets. I like to be able to go when I want to go, I’ve got a long streak of Opening Days to maintain (been to 30 in a row), and, most important, I want to go to every post-season game the Giants are in. The only way to ensure all of that is to get season tickets. Well, that, or hit the secondary market and pay exorbitant prices on a per-game basis, but perhaps spend the same or less money over the course of a season.
For … and this amazes me, but numbers don’t lie … I did some calculations last night. I took the cost of my season tickets. Then I subtracted the amount of money I collected over the year from the tickets that I sold. I then took that number and divided it by the number of games I attended. There are flaws in this “system,” but it at least gives a ballpark figure of how much I paid for each game I went to in 2009.
I spent $100/pair for those games, $50 a seat.
That’s way too much money to spend on a baseball ticket.
At the least, it gives me an idea of how much I could spend on the secondary market and still keep costs down. As an example, you could probably buy my seats for around $25-30 a piece on the secondary market … less for some games, more for others. I could go to 40 games this way, and spend about as much as I would if I got season tickets. Or I could go to 25 games, save some money, sit down in the good seats once in awhile.
Let me calculate this. 25 games, $40 a seat, 2 tix per game … that’s a lot per seat, but I’ll pretend I’m sitting in the lower deck all year. That’s also enough games to take in a couple on every home stand. The total cost would be about $1000 less than if I bought a full season-ticket package. And the truth is, I’d probably average a lot less than $40/seat for the year. The money I saved could go into a post-season savings account, for the occasional year the Giants were actually good and I had to spend lotsa moolah to get into the park for those games.
A thousand dollars a year, probably more. Thinking of it that way, it’s hard to justify another year of season tickets. But then, I say this every year about this time.