Ticket issues delay fans at Rangers home opener

Posted Friday, Apr. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON - Bad bar codes printed on tickets kept some Rangers fans from seeing the beginning of the game on Opening Day at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

While there were no problems in the parking lot after the team adopted new policies for tailgating, long lines did form at the gates to the ballpark itself when the barcodes on the tickets weren't being read by the electronic scanners used by ticket takers, the team said.

Eventually the ticket takers decided to handle the problem the old fashioned way -- by tearing the tickets by hand. Easily 1,000 people were waiting in line at the home plate entrance.

Brian Louden of Houston said he waited 45 minutes to get into the Ballpark, finally getting inside in the bottom of the first.

"I've been to sporting events all over the world and I've never seen anything like this," said Louden who entered through the home plate gate. "It just didn't move. I think they could have a decision sooner to start tearing tickets and let everybody in sooner."

Dodge Saner of Keller, who is attending his fifth consecutive Opening Day game at Ranger Ballpark, was dismayed.

"No organization whatsoever," Saner said. "I'm excited for Opening Day but this is insane."

Fans at other gates didn't report as long a wait, saying it took 5-10 minutes to get inside.

Before the game, out in the parking lots, all was calm.

A year ago, Rusty Thompson arrived got the last parking spot in Lot B and felt lucky to get a space.

This year, Thompson arrived at the same time, about 7:15 a.m., and was the first in the lot. The first pitch wasn't scheduled to be thrown until 1 p.m.

"It was kind lonely out here," said Thompson who lives in Dallas.

It was dramatically different than Rangers Opening Day last year when the parking lots were jammed with tailgaters and fans had to park a half-mile away or simply gave up and went home.

Tailgaters this year said the smaller amount of tailgaters was a direct result of the Rangers telling fans they wouldn't be admitted into the parking lot without a game ticket. Last year, thousands of ticket holders had to park a half-mile or more away because 10,000 to 20,000 people without tickets showed up just to tailgate. The new policy is designed to prevent a repeat performance.

But the new policy provoked a split decision among fans.

Some like Thompson and his friends Coby Wooten and Doug Mackey, both of Fort Worth, were disappointed their friends couldn't join them.

"We had friends who wanted to come out but they stayed away,' Wooten said. "I think that hurts the fans experience a little bit."

Others like Johnny Arrellano of Fort Worth were relieved.

"It helps keep the riff-raff out," Arrellano as he grilled sausages on a small grill. 'You don't have as many drunks. You don't have as many problems. I had no problem getting in here today."

Despite the threats of checking tickets, there were no signs that parking attendants were enforcing the rule.

At one of the Cowboys stadium parking lots, fans were paying $15 and zipping into lots.

"It's going pretty smoothly," said Kent Drake of Arlington. "The traffic is nowhere near as bad as last year. Of course, the fact that the Rangers aren't coming off a World Series might have something to do with that."

Once Ranger fans got inside the ballpark they were welcomed by a new row of seats has been added behind home plate -- shortening the foul-ball space behind the catcher -- and a wall has been removed as part of a renovation of the Capital One Club.

There also were some new gastronomical delights.

The Rangers have expanded their offerings of oversize food, including a Beltre Buster burger that includes 24 ounces of beef and 8 ounces of bacon - enough food for at least four people - for $26.

Several new versions of the 24-inch Boomstick hot dogs are also available, as well as a 24-inch quesadilla named "Murph-a-dilla" after outfielder David Murphy

Phillip Palacios, Bryan Wang and Diane Knauf of Arlington all decided to try the Boomstick with jalapeños, chili, cheese and onions.

They had no plans to take on the Boomstick but changed their minds when they walked by the concession stand behind home plate.

"We took one look and said 'Oh God, we gotta try that,'" Palacios said.

Many fans were content to just gawk and take cellphone photos of the Texas-sized entrees.

"That is one giant hotdog," said Dawn Manor of Arlington. "I can't believe someone is going to eat all of that. I think I would get seriously sick."

John Staley of Dallas, stopped in his tracks and said "What the Hell?" as he saw the display of giant dogs, quesadillas and burgers.

"That is just gross," he said. "But I'm sure my sons would be all over this."

Staff writer Drew Davison and correspondent Travis Brown contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter:@fwhanna

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