The August 12 Field of Dreams Game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees was the most watched Major League Baseball game since 2005. So Commissioner Rob Manfred and his team are all happy and content. Here’s my report card on MLB’s handling of the event:
Ticket Lottery – F
Communication – F
Parking – F
Bleacher Seating - F
Souvenirs – F-
Environment/Experience – A+
The Game – A+ (I’m a Sox fan)
The ballpark holds 8,000 people. The fine residents of Iowa, according to MLB spin, were going to be well represented because it was the first MLB game to ever be held in Iowa. Then the Sox and Yankees fans were to get a share of the tickets. Unnamed others were to claim the rest. MLB was never transparent about how many of the tickets went where. All I know is the White Sox got a share and only 400 of the tickets went into a lottery for season ticket holders. Reportedly, only 1,000 Iowans got tickets. Manfred must have a lot of “people.”
Oh, the lottery. MLB kept delaying when they were going to announce the winners. First it was this day, and then that day. It ended up that we found out we were going exactly one week before the game. We found a place to stay because so many people did not get tickets that they cancelled reservations. Our B&B host had four cancellations so lost a lot of money.
The military slang FUBAR applies to the mess MLB made of the event. Besides the lottery held in the skunk works, the communication about the event was horrible. The website stunk. It wasn’t until the day before the game that MLB updated the website with a map of the grounds. Concessions were a big secret until the last minute as well.
Parking was stupid. It took 1.5 hours to go three miles. And, they closed down the single road in to cart out some dignitary in a tinted window SUV with a police escort. We poor flunkies just sat on the road. Some nice resident along the way had coolers out with water. Getting out was no better than getting in. MLB must have given the traffic staff lessons in rudeness. I’ve never heard so much yelling.
After the long wait to get to the parking lot, we made the trek to the movie site. It was a trek. Communications about what we could take in was unclear. The website said medical and diaper bags. Somebody we met saw somewhere that small bags were okay. Our parking neighbor got sent back with her cross body bag. When we got to the entrance most of the people had small bags.
Souvenirs were a fiasco. The lines were up to 1.5 hours long to make purchases. And MLB ran out of stuff. Really? What was hard about this? Three trailers with souvenirs for 8,000 people?
Whoever MLB hired to do the “environment” knows how to plan an experience. The movie site was a happy place with lots of Dads and kids playing catch. The walk from the movie site to the Field was pure fun. The White Sox Ghost Players were on the path and there were tons of photo opportunities. All among the beautiful Iowa corn.
Once we climbed onto the bleachers, which reminded me of high school, we were smashed among each other. Apparently, MLB thinks the average American has a 16-inch wide butt. My husband, Steve, is a normal size guy, but he’s tall so needs leg room. I am small (so I get penalized). The guy next to Steve was huge and sweaty. The guy next to me was even bigger. C’mon MLB, size the bleacher section correctly.
It really was a dream when Kevin Costner emerged from the corn talking about it being perfect. “Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” And then there was Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run for the Sox win. Talk about perfect.
My conclusion is that MLB should stick to what they know and leave the event planning and PR to people who know how to put on large-scale events. Let’s hope they’ve learned something so that next year’s event won’t be FUBAR.