Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jury is Out on Year One's Enhanced Fan Experience

The Cubs opened up Wrigley Field for the 2010 season with a bang as they pounded out three homeruns, two of which came off of the Cubs' inexplicable nemesis, Doug Davis.

They made some nifty defensive plays.  Soto threw out Rickie Weeks trying to steal.  Every position player in the starting lineup had at least one hit.

Ryan Dempster had a decent start that looks worse in the box score because of a three-run homer allowed to Ed Hardy Braun.  James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, and Carlos Marmol managed to not let the game get any more interesting by preventing the Brewers from scoring after Dempster left.

Things went pretty well on the baseball field. The sun was out, the weather reports never included the words "wind chill," and we were pretty happy.

Off the field, it didn't appear that much had changed in the ballpark.  We heard a lot about how the Cubs were going to make every effort to make sure fans enjoyed their game experience at Wrigley.  There were going to be Wrigley Ambassadors that were going to be both inside and outside the park that would be there to assist fans in finding their way and ensuring that the various operations of the ballpark were performing up to the high standards of the best fans in the world (best measured as a function of amount of money spent on a ticket).

This was one day, so I can't say that the operation is a failure.  Nor can I say that my experience was similar to anyone else's.  I am simply relaying the experiences I had on Opening Day.

First, as we entered the stadium, my female friends held their purses open for someone to inspect them (translation: poke around in them with a stick), but no inspection happened.  They just walked right in and were handed their magnetic schedule. This was certainly convenient, but also a tad disturbing given the world we now live in.

We headed up to our seats and were stopped by the usher checking our tickets.  This is nothing new and to be fully expected.  Kris showed her ticket, the woman looked down and said "OK," and Kris went to head up the ramp.  The usher then said, "hold on" and grabbed Kris by one of her female parts that should probably not be grabbed by stadium personnel.  I'm sure it was an accident, but I'm not sure why she had grabbed Kris by any part of her body after having already checked her ticket and given her permission to proceed.  So that was weird, and definitely not an improvement from years past.

There were no obvious seating disputes in Aisle 424, unlike last year, but I don't know if that was because of increased help in the park or merely a coincidence, because I have yet to see what a Wrigley Ambassador looks like, and the ushers that normally checked tickets at the top of the ramp were also not there on Monday.  But I can't argue with the results so far.

I was also struck by the lack of vendors of any sort.  Normally, you can't take in a game without having vendors yelling out whatever it is they are selling.  I was actually hungry for a hot dog, but I never happened to see one.  Kris and my other friends also mentioned noticing a lack in vendors.  There were some, but few and far between.

None of these incidents wold have even raised an eyebrow if they had occured last year because instances like these have been common (maybe not so much the boob-grabbing) under the Tribune ownership.  However, the Ricketts and the marketing machine of the Cubs had promised sweeping changes in the relationship between the team and the fans.  When you raise the bar of expectations, the same old schtick suddenly becomes disappointing.

Again, I can not stress enough that I was not actively looking to point out flaws in the system, nor was I actively hunting down changes.  I wanted to watch the game and get re-acquainted with my Aisle 424 Summer Family. 

The product on the field looked good, so my game experience was pretty high and I also enjoyed having Julie (@aleagueofherown) and Angelene (@ataccini) as special guests in Aisle 424 for the game.  (Julie reported that she was a bit disappointed in the renovations of the womens bathroom, but she can delve into that further if she chooses.)

I'm curious what other people may have experienced on their first day in the park of Year One.  If you attended the game, feel free to share any stories, positive or negative, about your fan experience at Opening Day in the comments.  I'm just hoping none of the stories involve bathroom sex.

Photos from Sun-Times


Kris said...

I'm still feeling a little violated.

danieldschell said...

D Lee looks to be about 7'2" in the Anthem picture!

Aisle 424 said...

Kris, maybe the Cubs can offer you a free session with the team psychiatrist to help you get past the mental anguish.

Daniel, its just that Theriot and Byrd are 5' 2".

Anonymous said...

i actually felt like the vendors and the ushers were alot more friendly than they were in years past. i have no idea if this was just isolated or part of the "ricketts 'W'ay of life"

Anonymous said...

I have gone through the hiring process to become an Ambassador. There were two interviews and I haven't heard anything since. I am left to wonder if positions have been filled and those who have not been hired, also were not notified as such. Off to a bad start not letting those who attended the interviews know what the outcome is. In reading the snuffalupugus piece, I have my doubts. Please post if you see a Cub Ambassador. It maybe the only way I find out the outcome.

Aisle 424 said...

I'm sorry to hear you didn't get a decision, one way or the other. I'll definitely post if and when I ever spot the elusive Cub Ambassador.

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