This post has nothing whatsoever to do with the blog’s themes or purposes, but it’s my blog and I’m going to use it for a little First Amendment freedom of expression.
Yesterday’s visit to State Mutual Stadium for a Rome Braves game displayed local team ownership’s unbridled greed and preference for a regime of rules over true customer service. It was mind over matter; the polo-shirted police state didn’t mind and we fans didn’t matter.
Here’s the scene. It’s 87 degrees. There is a patio reserved for fans using the private suites. We have suite tickets. The suite, however, is overcrowded, by about double. One step into either adjoining suite’s outside seating area invites armed security — that’s right, a man with a gun reminding us that we have to stay penned up in our suite. The game started 45 minutes late. It’s 45 minutes into the game. Clearly, obviously no one is coming to use the adjoining suites. They remain off limits.
Sooooo, we walk out onto the sun-drenched patio. Ah! A tent with bistro tables. Unoccupied! Shade! Did I mentioned the armed “guard,” strategically positioned at the Bud Lite tent? Did I mention that any sentient being could reason that no one else was coming out to the game this day? That’s right, we have to leave. “Rules,” moonlighting police man says, flatly. “No shade for you!”
We were told, “No” no fewer than on three occasions, yet not a soul ever asked us if they could help, if a compromise might be found. But oh so prompt was the bill for the soft drinks at game’s end. Every can, every ice cube accounted for.
A word about “security.” I doubt State Mutual is on the list of terrorist targets, yet we waded through three levels of “security” to get to our “restricted area.” Clearly, the security is about no one without a proper set of tickets getting up to the promised land, which is in reality a lackluster collection of dorm room-odored, dorm room-sized boxes. It could not have less to do with true security.
Now none of this would bother me all that much if I were ignorant, if I could naively return to open seating and the pleasures of minor league baseball, which, despite the Rome Braves gestapo, remain abundant and pure. But I know too much. I know that the city provided ownership with rights of way, infrastructure and tax breaks to get the team, which, make no mistake, is a for-profit corporation. I know the local paper provides in effect free advertising for more than 142 days out of each and every year (the length of the season). At minimum, the team logo appears on the front page every day — win, lose or DNP due to rain. No other local business gets that kind of free publicity, all under the guise of civic pride. (I don’t blame the paper, by the way. Local support for the team is incredible.)
I’m done. I feel better. See you at the game. Maybe we can look for shade together.