Friend, colleague and stadium shell game expert Neil deMause has been flexing his journalistic muscles by keeping up with the Yankee Stadium ticket beat(down), and generously salting his reports with a few choice quotes from yours truly. Following up his initial report for The Village Voice, last week he unearthed some choice euphemisms from Yankees’ chief operating officer Lonn Trost, who’s emerging as the face of villainy in this debacle:
Team COO Lonn Trost’s response has essentially been “RTFM,” but recent days have revealed some undocumented features. First off was Trost disclosing to WFAN’s Mike Francesca that the stadium’s 1,886 standing-room tickets will go for “around $20″ a pop — and that holders of $12 bleacher seats will for the first time be free to roam about the stadium at will. While this is no doubt because Yanks execs wanted to ensure that Bleacher Creatures are able to get to the new stadium’s many premium-priced concessions areas, it makes for one weird pricing scheme: Fans will, in essence, be levied an $8 surcharge for not having a place in the outfield to rest their tuchuses between purchases of $10 caesar salads.
The plot also continues to thicken regarding the seats behind the foul poles that offer obstructed views of the field — or as Trost neologized, are “architecturally shadowed.” Trost told Francesca that foul-pole seats will not be offered as part of season ticket plans, but rather only on a game-by-game basis; they won’t be marked “obstructed view,” however, which is apparently allowable under state law, which requires that obstructed-view tickets be so marked, but doesn’t define what “obstructed” is.
Neil then goes on to cite my ticket group’s experience regarding those “architecturally shadowed” seats and finds that we’re hardly alone in that treatment (a topic that’s made its way around the area dailies). Big surprise.
Over at Field of Schemes, the site devoted to his efforts to keep up with stadium shenanigans (following his book of the same name, which is now in its second edition), Neil details a year-old exchange between Trost, Francesca and his then co-host Chris Russo, unearthing some hollow words from the Yankee organization regarding the infamous relocation plan:
Mike Francesca: Are some people getting relocated, getting hurt? Are there some guys who’ve been loyal season ticket holders who are gonna get hurt in this move?
Trost: We hope not. We spent substantial time coming up with a relocation program, and the relocation program will probably be public in about six weeks. The program basically says, we will put you in a comparable location, and you have the choice of taking it or not. If you don’t want it, and elect to go down, or up, or move, we will do that also.
Chris Russo: You will take care of them.
Trost: We will take — and understand, this is most likely the largest and hardest relocation program in the history of sports. … But the philosophy is try to give—
Francesca: And you’re going to take care of your people in the bleachers, and take care of your people who are in the upper deck, and the guy who takes his son once a week, or has his Sunday plan. You’re going to take care of that fan in this new ballpark.
Trost: The plans will be the same, or comparable.
That relocation plan actually took six months, not six weeks, to appear, and contained none of the guarantees about “comparable” seating that Trost promised to radio listeners. Noting that Trost has recently begun berating fans for “not reading the documentation,” jilted miniplan holder Jay Jaffe tells FoS: “Basically, he’s insulting his customers for failing to read the fine print.”
As for that fine print, here’s what I wrote in one of the comments:
It’s worth pointing out that not only did Joe Stalin’s Guide to the New Yankee Stadium Gulags (a/k/a the Relocation Guide) contain none of the guarantees about “comparable” seating that Trost promised, it included the following, note in response to Question 8 in the FAQ on page 33 (“How will seats and seat locations be assigned in the new Yankee Stadium?”):
…With respect to existing “B” Plan and Partial Season Plan Licensees, the Yankees will attempt to assign seat locations in accordance with the Licensees’ seating preferences as expressed in the Licensees’ Relocation Program Questionnaires. However, please note, unlike existing Full Season and “A” Plan Licensees, under the Relocation Program, “B” Plan and Partial Season Plan Licensees will not receive reasonably comparable seat location assignments. All seat location assignments for existing “B” Plan and Partial Season Plan Licensees will be made in accordance with the Licensee’s preferences as reflected in the Relocation Program Questionnaire submitted by the Licensee. All seat locations will be determined by the Yankees, subject to the pool selection process. Please see pages 36, 38 and 40, respectively, for more information. (emphasis in original)
Got that? WILL NOT RECEIVE REASONABLY COMPARABLE SEAT LOCATION ASSIGNMENTS! Will receive unreasonably incomparable assignments. No wonder Trost is berating us for not having read the fine print, because he as much as said we were screwed, previous statements to the contrary be damned.
Capping it off, on Monday, Neil penned a brief Op-Ed piece for the free commuter paper Metro New York, one whose title may have caused readers to assume he was throwing his hat into the ring as the team’s fill-in third baseman (“Neil deMause: The solution to Yanks’ troubles”). Actually, it’s his modest proposal to remedy this whole fiasco:
There can be only one solution: The city needs to move as quickly as possible to put this whole sorry episode behind us by starting demolition. Demolition, that is, of the new stadium.
Think about it. The construction jobs that the Yanks were touting from the project have already been created, and the workers are home busily hiding their money under mattresses where the banks can’t get at it. Tear down the new building, and the locals get their parks back right where they’re used to them. Ticketholders get their old seats back. The Yanks can even keep their $350 million in new parking garages as a gift from us for being such good sports — while getting a mulligan on their final Yankee Stadium season, hopefully putting it off until after Jose Molina has retired.
Jay Jaffe, the baseball writer and Yankee fan whose blog posts about his ticket woes have helped spur Polegate, says, “I think it’s a great idea! Tear it down, except for the luxury boxes. Those of us who pay for our own tickets can go back to the great seats we’ve enjoyed for all these years in The House That Ruth Built, while the fat cats can hobnob without missing a thing, as they didn’t come to watch the ballgame anyway.”
I wasn’t initially supposed to get the last word, but I wound up with it anyway due to some overzealous editing. None of the quotes are as good as my little Wall Street Journal splash, but then what is?
UPDATE: Over at the excellent Biz of Baseball website, Pete Toms has a lengthy, link-heavy piece regarding the tarnishing of the Yankee brand as it relates to this whole stadium mess and the current economic downturn. A must-read.