With a new homestand starting today, it’s time to talk about the lines. HOLY SHIT, the LINES.
It’s approaching a year since the Sox have gone full capacity, but it still seems like the gates are only prepared for 8k fans to show up to EVERY FUCKING GAME. It’s a major pain and shows how shockingly awful the parking / entry situation is at Sox Park. Last year, short staffed (and seemingly not ready for the crowds) I was a bit more forgiving, but this year it’s hard to look past the issues. Saturday vs. the Cubs was very concerning as they knew it was gonna be a full park. So much so they even sold STANDING ROOM tickets. There is no excuse for not being able to handle a crowd that you are INTENTIONALLY MAKING BIGGER. No excuse, none.
For years, YEARS, I have blamed the fans. You’d have a solid walk up crowd or maybe a late arriving crowd. Something out of the ordinary. “Hey, you can’t blame the organization for that!” But once they went full capacity in 2021 that excuse is null and void. You have to get people in the stadium in a timely fashion, especially if you are gonna sell SRO. Cash in all you want, but make sure that people are getting the level of service they are paying for. Can you imagine paying nearly $80 for a SRO ticket and it takes 35 minutes to get into the stadium? GTFOH.
That Saturday was especially concerning as there was no giveaway and it was the Cubs. Our buddy waited to park. Then waited nearly an hour to get in. How is that acceptable? I haven’t been to a ton of stadiums, but with the exception of Miller Park, I have never waited to get into a park for more than a few minutes. Wrigley doesn’t have these issues and they used to handle huge crowds all the time. Brew Hand Luke was in Detroit recently and they had no issues with getting people in the park in a timely fashion. Same with Toronto, but it looked like 17 people were at that series so that is less of a feat.
It’s really time to examine what is going on here as this isn’t making our stadium experience look any better. The team is in the spotlight (both good and bad) and while on this stage we should be killing it, showing people what the south side baseball experience is. Right now, the experience is waiting to park. Waiting to get in. Waiting to get a beer or brat. The food line seems to move quick, but it’s the least visited by myself so I can’t confirm that. I do hit the Jack Daniels Bar most games and that takes forever. It’s not even the workers fault, it’s mostly due to only having 2 places to get a mixed drink in the stadium. That blows.
You know what else blows? It doesn’t have to be like this. There are some great people on 35th and Shields that honestly care about the fan and the fan experience. So what gives? Last year, I was incredibly forgiving as we/they were in uncharted territory. They experienced staff shortages, and honestly, I understood that. They have a saying in business “adapt or die”. How the MLB is set-up, it’s not possible to die, but the amount of money they could be making is going down every minute an excited consumer is in a line outside of the park. And the whole point of this is making money right? There was an entire off-season to prep for this. It looks like they tried really hard to fix the parking (which seems like it’s still a mess) but entry seems the same. Why has nothing changed?
I don’t like writing these blogs without offering a solution, so here goes nothing. Season Ticket holders deserve their own gate. Yup, I said it. We commit for the season at least a year in advance, we 100% deserve special treatment. I’d even say it’s cool if partial season ticket holders could use the gate too. Reward the folks that support you. Plain and simple. That’s #1.
#2, if you have a bag or a purse, get in a different line. I shouldn’t wait for another person to get their stuff gone through. I was that “bring a bag” asshole for many years, but COVID forced me to leave it at home. And guess what? I’ve been 100% fine without having my bag of mixed tricks and treats. When I bring the girls and we need the extra stuff, we can wait in a different line. But when I am solo, the Sox should get me in there ASAP so I can get my eating and drinking on. I don’t even bring my chain wallet anymore. How much more do you think someone would spend if the first two experiences (parking and entry) were positive? I’d bet the over.
#3, I’d love to see a parking revamp. Might be the hardest thing to change, but equipping the attendants to accept cash or card would be a fabulous step forward. Having a solid idea on how to control it would work too. I feel like they might have a plan but the plan doesn’t seem to work with large crowds. So we need a new plan. Let’s get some good go getters and get them the tools to succeed. It always seems like there are plenty of folks telling people where not to go, why can’t they tell people where to go BEFORE they get to the wrong place?
#4, utilize the workers. One of the biggest things I think stops change and anyone making changes is that workers are not empowered to make a change. It either gets run up a chain to nowhere, or the worker doesn’t feel like their opinions matter. Y’all can say “But it’s seasonal workers, they don’t understand how it works.” And I’d say GFY, until a couple years ago the same ladies made my beef every time I ordered it. It’s Shirley now, who fucking rocks, but that’s besides the point. They know what they are doing. They get it, listen to them.
#5 and this will solve so many things. I know it’s hard to see past the present, it for sure is on the field, but please, please, please invest in your staff. Being short staffed has a simple solution, pay them more. Invest a few bucks into making money and you’ll make more money. It’s not a fucking joke. If that guy at the gate was making a few more bucks an hour, maybe more than minimum wage, he might be more apt to do more. Maybe he’d go above and beyond for his employer. Out west (before the huge minimum wage hike) In-N-Out Burger used to pay like $3 above minimum wage. And guess what? Their workers gave a fuck! The experience was way better than other fast food places. It starts at the top folks and that attitude trickles down. If you run a business cutting corners and trying to save as much as possible, that’s exactly what will get communicated to your paying fanbase. Let’s get it right this homestand White Sox!
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