So maybe you heard about it. The Championship round of the WBC was taking place in my backyard. Team USA, in its first semi-finals in WBC history, was going up against Team Japan, a former WBC champion, and it was happening at Chavez Ravine.
I told myself this was the chance of a lifetime. There are no guarantees in life, and this was my shot at seeing Team USA play in my home stadium. I was not going to miss it. You might have even seen my tweet to the world that I would be there. Alas, Vin Scully always reminds us about “the best laid plans of men…”
My first thought about how to get tickets was my go-to ticket agency, SeatGeek. If you’re not familiar with them, they handle tickets in the secondary market, and you can usually get a great price for the goods.
The way SeatGeek works is fairly straightforward. You purchase tickets, and they send you an email confirming the purchase…but there’s a rub. You must also await a second email telling you that your tickets are actually available. Until that happens, you and your credit card are in limbo. Nevertheless, in a small sample size, I’ve only had good experiences with them.
I chose tickets (they showed many available), made the purchase, and happily awaited my ticket email. And waited some more. About seven hours before first pitch SeatGeek let me know there would be no purchase after all because there were no tickets available. That’s the email you don’t want to receive (especially after sitting in limbo).
Why they can’t give you the tickets or simply say the tickets are no longer available when you click on “BUY”, remains a mystery to me. I hate limbo.
I went back online and thus began a seven hour dance of sturm und drang. I kept selecting tickets and then waiting 5 to 10 minutes to get the email cancelling the sale. “Play Ball” was fast approaching, and my hopes for attending the game were turning darker than the rain clouds over Dodger Stadium.
I figured USA v Japan would surely be a sellout or close. The virtual seats for the game on the SeatGeek website kept moving and jumping around as though tickets were actually being purchased and new ones were becoming available by the minute. I kept trying and striking out. I thought, “This is surely the hottest ticket in town.”
At 10 minutes to 5 (Game time was 6 PST) I got it! An email saying my purchase and tickets (yes, they said tickets) were confirmed, and soon I would receive another email telling me when they are available. At this moment skepticism and cynicism should have kicked in to keep me bound in reality, but I was too darn excited!
There was however, one overriding thought: it’s one hour from game time, it’s rush hour in LA, and I need to be at the stadium, like…NOW!
I jumped onto the Dodgers website to buy parking. It took a few minutes, but it was easy peasy. 45 minutes to go and the only thing holding me back was ….no tickets. Not really.
And then it was 30 minutes until game time and still no word from SeatGeek.
Twenty minutes from the start I finally get an update. The sale was cancelled! Sorry, just kidding about that ticket and purchase confirmation. And just like that, Crush!
I made the best of it all. After firing off a firm, but reasonable letter to SeatGeek letting them know I expected reimbursement for my parking purchase, I made some nachos, popped a cold one, and settled in to watch the game. And then I saw them…thousands, and I mean THOUSANDS, of empty seats.
All day that SeatGeek system was telling me someone else got those seats ahead of me. An hour before game time other ticket agencies were showing no tickets available. I figured it to be a sell out, but looking at the TV broadcast of the game, (away from the seats directly behind the plate) you actually had to search to find fans in the stands.
Where was everybody? Did 40,000 people stay way because of the rain? Really? Someone had all those tickets. Despite my efforts, I couldn’t get any. And yet…the attendance looked like a Dodger game from the final days of the Frank McCourt regime. There were five to seven thousand fans in a fifty-thousand seat stadium, and half of those were in the Japanese fan band.
Who was holding all those tickets? Heck if I know. All I know is I didn’t have one. I guess I came close, and yet, so far away from cheering on Team USA at Dodger Stadium .
In case you’re wondering, SeatGeek replied to my complaint letter and graciously offered to refund the money I paid for parking. In fact, they responded quickly and professionally. I was righteously impressed by their clear understanding of customer service.
Now if they would just streamline that purchase to tickets pipeline, they’d be onto something.