Thursday, February 27, 2003

New ballpark pity parties

Real fans of the Reds don't whine


Real Reds fans don't bellyache about not getting a ticket for Opening Day.

They know Opening Day is like New Year's Eve. For amateurs.

Real fans don't care if four $50 tickets to see the first regular-season game at Great American Ball Park on March 31 are going on the Internet for $1,390.

They aren't making plans to boycott the stadium. They're planning to attend the ballpark's open house to take the free tours March 22 and 23. Because they're

real fans.

They know the Reds are playing 81 home games during the ballpark's inaugural season. (Eighty-three, if you count the March 28 and 29 preseason exhibitions with the Cleveland Indians.)

Real fans show up throughout the season. Not just one day in March.

All-weather fans

Real fans get their buns roasted during a day game in August and their rear ends frosted shivering through a night game in early April.

They follow the team day and night. Not just on Opening Day.

Those are real fans.

Yet, since Opening Day sold out in an hour Saturday and countless thousands were shut out, nonstop pity parties have been thrown for so-called "real fans."

Their complaints make them sound like real whiners.

• The Reds should have reserved the 14,000 Opening Day tickets that went on sale Saturday for Hamilton County's taxpayers. They're footing the bill for the $280 million stadium. They're the "real fans."

This is a local-yokel complaint. It assumes people in Warren, Butler, Kenton and Dearborn counties don't buy anything in Hamilton County. And never root for the Reds.

• The Reds never should have sold the tickets over those new-fangled inventions, the telephone and the Internet. They should have done business the old-fashioned way. Sell the tickets at the box office. Make people camp out overnight. They could stand in line on ice and snow in a hard-hat-only construction zone. They'd do this because they're "real fans."

Hogwash. The box office scenario just gives an unfair advantage to the outdoorsy types on scalpers' payrolls.

Everyone's invited

These complaints sound like they're coming from a bunch of backward goobers. They give real fans a bad name.

That's easy for me to say. I didn't waste two hours on Saturday with one hand on the phone and the other punching a computer keyboard.

My wife did.

She didn't get a ticket either.

She was one of 720,000 visitors that morning to the Reds' Web site.

If just one-third of those cyberspace visitors show up at the ballpark's March 22 and 23 open house, the Reds will be swamped.

"We're geared up to handle 150,000 people over the two days," said Reds chief operating officer John Allen.

"Everybody will get a chance to come down and kick the tires," he added.

"It's on our nickel."

The Reds, not Hamilton County's taxpayers, are paying for the open house. The team's arranging 45-minute tours of the facility and staffing the place with 750 tour guides.

This doesn't sound anything like what happened when the cheapskate Bengals held an open house for Paul Brown Stadium. That event turned into a nightmare of long lines, too few fan-friendly guides and no free souvenirs. The only thing people left with was a bad taste in their mouth for the Bengals.

The Reds will have freebies.

"Everyone will get a free program," Allen said.

And a commemorative trinket of some sort.

He would not say exactly what.

"I want it to be a surprise."


Real fans love surprises.

E-mail or 768-8379.

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