Bar code problem keeps some fans waiting, but parking seems smoother

Posted Friday, Apr. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- A year ago, Rusty Thompson arrived for the Texas Rangers' home opener just in time to get the last parking spot in Lot B -- and felt lucky.

This year, Thompson arrived at the same time, about 7:15 a.m., and was the first in the lot, almost six hours before first pitch.

"It was kind of lonely out here," said Thompson, of Dallas. "But I'm not complaining."

Last year, parking lots were jammed and fans had to park a half-mile away or simply give up and go home because 10,000 to 20,000 people without tickets showed up just to tailgate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

To combat the problem, the Rangers announced that fans wouldn't be allowed into parking lots without a game ticket. That appeared to prevent a repeat of last year's problems.

While the crowd left happy Friday after a 3-2 Rangers win, the new parking policy provoked a split decision among fans.

Some, like Thompson and his friends Coby Wooten and Doug Mackey, both of Fort Worth, were disappointed that other 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 riffraff out," Arrellano said as he grilled sausages. "You don't have as many drunks. You don't have as many problems. I had no problem getting in here today."

Paul Fullerton of Gatesville also applauded the new parking rules. As he smoked a brisket for his friends and family, Fullerton said he had little sympathy for those who wanted to tailgate.

"They can go over there to those private lots, pay $30 and party all they want," Fullerton said.

Despite threats that tickets would be checked, 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," Kent Drake of Arlington said. "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."

Arlington police cited no major problems with game-day traffic and reported no arrests.

Faulty bar codes

While there were no problems in the parking lot, long lines did form at the gates to the ballpark when electronic scanners couldn't read the bar codes on several thousand tickets.

Rangers spokesman John Blake said the problem affected people with partial season ticket plans.

"The code was askew and thus not picked up by the scanners," Blake said. "This caused some delay at the gates, but the delay did not seem to be extensive because of this. The gates were never closed."

The ticket takers handled the problem the old-fashioned way -- by tearing tickets by hand.

At one point, about 1,000 people were waiting in line at the home plate entrance.

A few fans said it made them miss the start of the game. Brian Louden of Houston said he waited 45 minutes to get in, finally entering during 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 made a decision sooner to start tearing tickets and let everybody in sooner."

Fans at other gates didn't report waits that long, saying it took five to 10 minutes.

A feast of changes

Once Ranger fans got inside, they could witness recent changes firsthand. A new row of seats was added behind home plate -- shortening the foul-ball space behind the catcher -- and a wall was removed as part of a renovation of the Capital One Club.

There were also new gastronomical delights.

The Rangers have expanded their offerings of oversize food, including a Beltre Buster burger with 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 partake of the Boomstick but changed their minds when they walked by the concession stand.

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

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

"That is one giant hot dog," 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 Davidson and correspondent Travis Brown contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter:@fwhanna

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