Mac Engel

And here it comes: Fans are irate at Rangers’ ticket pricing plans for new ballpark

Texas Rangers announce playing surface for Globe Life Field

The Texas Rangers announced that their new ballpark Globe Life Field, which opens in 2020, will have a synthetic turf instead of natural grass. The decision is likely to irk many fans.
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The Texas Rangers announced that their new ballpark Globe Life Field, which opens in 2020, will have a synthetic turf instead of natural grass. The decision is likely to irk many fans.

When the Texas Rangers polled their season ticket customers on what their biggest priority was for seats at the new stadium, the message was no personal seat licenses.

The dreaded PSL is the bane of every single season ticket customer all over this great nation. The Rangers delivered. There are no personal seat licenses for season ticket customers at the new place.

The point has been either mostly ignored, or lost, as part of the new process of moving to the new stadium. Props to the Rangers for not resorting to this standard grotesque extortion.

“That point was loud and clear so we backed off personal seat licenses,” Texas Rangers executive vice president Rob Matwick said.

As much as we Texans champion not having a state tax, we do enjoy the luxury of high property taxes. The moral: They’re going to get your cash somehow, someway.

The new exciting price plan for Tax Hike Friendly Park, which will open in 2020, is being slowly introduced to season ticket holders themselves. The initial reaction on the part of season ticket holders is what you would expect: Disgusted and outraged.

PRICE HIKE

Chuck Noteboom, who said he has been a season ticket holder since 1993, was told by the ballclub that his $60 tickets per game will only cost $200 each in the new place.

Ladies and gents, the air conditioning that you so covet is not free. Never has the petty and juvenile “I told you so” felt less rewarding.

“I ended up (moving) 25 feet further from home plate for a 25 percent increase,” Noteboom wrote in an email. “So much for 25 years of loyalty.”

If that sort of price increase doesn’t make you want to go out and buy a season ticket plan, wait ‘til you hear the good news from long-time season ticket holder Dan Waller.

“They pressed me for an answer last week and I told them no,” Waller said in a phone interview. “I can’t do it. I knew an increase was coming, but not this. They want to sell these seats to corporations.”

Waller, who is an attorney in Dallas, has been a season-ticket since 1979, when the team played at old Arlington Stadium. He made the move to four seats when the team moved into the Ballpark in Arlington. He currently has eight seats, all in the best part of the park, the high-rent areas, a few rows right behind home plate.

He said he paid $95 per seat in the “old place.” To have the same seats at Tax Hike Friendly Park, he said the Rangers are asking $300 per ticket. This includes two parking passes per game, and all the food and beverage. It also includes admission to the Homeplate Club, which is a suite that will be underground.

Waller said the club offered him three options: four years, six years and eight year packages. The four-year plan would increase at 3 percent every year; the six-year plan increases by 2 percent annually, and the eight-year by 1 percent.

“Management raised ticket prices by 400 percent and they want a mortgage,” he said. “They built JerryWorld for a baseball game.”

When Arlington and Dallas Cowboys Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Jones opened AT&T Stadium in 2009, the cost for what is essentially a 100,000-seat venue was $1.2 billion.

The Rangers will open a venue that seats 40,000 with a price tag of what is now $1.2 billion.

“You are offering a seat and hoping people will pay $1.6 million over eight years,” Waller said. “I completely understand business and that rationale, but there is a level that you are not going to attract a fan.”

Matwick said: “We have heard from the fans in the high-dollar area. We have never been able to offer this before. The idea of this seat is to, ‘Leave your wallet at home.’ This is not a universal seat. A lot of corporations use these to entertain people. We only have about 2,000 or so of these. There are going to still be a lot of great seats at the ballpark.”

This high-rent area targets businesses and corporations that have large entertainment and client-relations budgets fixed into their expenses. This area is not about a fan.

The problem, visually, comes when the business buys the seats and then don’t use them.

Turn on a New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers game during the year, and you will often see the best seats are unoccupied. The seats are paid for, and essentially discarded.

By comparison, the New York Yankees offer a ticket for their Delta 360Sky Suite for $510 per game. That hurts to type. The Field Level MVP seat is the fan-friendly $310.

Per Waller, the Rangers did tell him that building this new facility gives them the best chance to attract new players.

Here is what attracts the best players: The largest check. Every stadium in MLB is a palace, too.

RANGERS’ RE-SETTING THE NEW NORM

The Rangers were braced for this sort of reaction; when a team moves into a new stadium, there is always a price increase, and fan outrage over the new ticket plans, seat relocations, etc.

In 2018, the Rangers’ average ticket price was $26.94. That ranked 20th in MLB. There was no way that was remaining after moving into a new building.

“You have a feel for prices in our industry, and we talked to the clubs in our market. We talked to the Mavs and Stars,” Matwick said. “We have to be affordable for everybody. We are looking at $9 tickets. We are looking at $15 tickets. We need to have a seat that attracts all customers.“

Some people who pay good money to watch the Rangers are mad, and I can’t blame them.

We love sports, and sports keep asking us to spend more and more. And we do. Someday, sports fans will mandate a market correction but that is not today.

The Rangers are banking that there will be customers who fill the place, and will just grow accustomed to paying whatever price so they can enjoy a climate controlled setting to watch their favorite team play ball on a natural grass surface.

(turns to editor ... “Artifical grass? Surely they would never do that.”)

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.

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