By Mike Steffanos
I received an email yesterday from Jill Brennan Lessard, one of the many Mets fans who is unhappy with the team's decision to go to a ticket lottery to distribute tickets for opening day and the Yankees series. The tradition for years was for diehard fans like Jill to camp out in the February cold to earn the right to purchase some of these coveted tickets.
Let me say right off the bat that there is probably no completely fair way to distribute tickets to these games. I'm sure that some fans who are unable to camp out and don't know someone who does are grateful for the small chance that the lottery affords them. The problem is that the system is rife for abuse, and more tickets seem to be finding their way to non-fans who are only looking to make some money scalping them to real fans.
I wish the Mets would reconsider this decision. I'd rather see those tickets go to fans who make the commitment to camp out than to scalpers who have set up thousands of hotmail accounts. Major League Baseball has a terrible track record with their most committed fans. I'd love to see the Mets do better. Things are going good for the team now, but that certainly hasn't been the case for most of the last two decades. Fans are being shut out today who supported this team and showed up at the ballpark through untold losing seasons. It would be a good gesture on the part of the club towards these fans if it took their concerns seriously.
I know there are some out there who think I'm some sort of communist because I truly believe that major league baseball owes something to its fans more than your local dry cleaner owes its customers. Yes, baseball is a business, but it enjoys a level of status and privilege that regular businesses don't. Baseball is still America's game, and there is no one among the current crop of owners who had anything to do with this. Don't get me wrong. For the most part, I believe the Wilpons have an excellent track record of treating Mets fans with respect. Even when the team wasn't being run well it wasn't through lack of trying. I hope they will take a look at the concerns of the fans about the ticket lottery.
This latest flap also underscores what I now believe to be a mistaken decision on the part of the club to build a relatively small ball park in the greatest city in the world. If there is a chance to add some more seats to this design they should do so in an effort to accommodate some more of their fans -- not because they have to, but rather it is the right thing to do. Keep running the team as well as you have the last couple of years and there will be no need to create some artificial "demand" by cutting 10,000 seats out of the stadium.
Okay, that's an argument for another day. In the meantime, Jill asked me to link to the petition she has on-line against the ticket lottery. If this upsets you as it does Jill, please take a moment to sign her petition. I also include links to posts by Jill on SNY's forum and the Mets.com forum where she explains her feelings:
Good luck, Jill.