Pitt better meet/exceed expectations early, because the frustration over parking and construction will only make it that much more likely people opt not to turn out for games.
Sorry to be late on this matter. I don’t handle the tickets and parking passes in my group, and since I don’t live in the ‘Burgh I did not know about yet another Northside giveaway to the Rooneys. In this case, the huge chunk of parking near Heinz Field for an unnecessary amphitheater. This eliminated some 800 prime Gold parking spots. Amazing ripples across the entire spectrum.
My group has been parking in Green 22 and then Green 23 since 2000. A bit detached from most of the action, but convenient in terms of getting in and out of the Northside. Especially since our group is almost all out-of-towners, and often at least one of us is running late or has to get home with some haste. It was also useful since our seats are on the Allegheny Avenue side.
Now we find ourselves with most of our parking relegated to the Red 5 Garage and one spot in Red 7B. The first thought was that we might go “old school” with the whole parking garage — tailgate in there. Just like everyone did when we were in Oakland with Pitt Stadium.
Problem is, Alco prohibits grills and glass bottles in the garage. Not sure how strictly this is enforced, but given this is Alco and a Pitt game — not a Steelers game — I expect rather stridently.
I think everyone understands that space is limited with the removal of some key parking, there would be some problems and frustrations.
The way that Pitt has handled it, however, has been mind-blowingly stupid.
It starts with the lack of any warning or advanced notice. No letter in advance laying out the problems. No explanation as to what the options are, and especially the possibility of splitting up parking passes. That’s really the big thing. No one knew until they received their parking passes in the mail, and then they had to call the ticket office/athletic department/Panther Club to find out what the hell happened.
Instead of any bracing, you get season tickets and parking passes — especially in a large group — and find out that you are scattered all over the stadium parking lot.
There is absolutely no excuse for not giving any advanced notice. I fully expect an apology about it at some point. An empty, hollow, useless, and meaningless apology only about the lack of notice. Not for anything else, though.
They had to know there would be a huge backlash. Part of the reason for the popularity of going to football games is the tailgating. For many of us, football season is one of the only times we can get together with old friends, just hang-out and be.
Tailgating before hand is almost as important as the football game. Bill Simmons may be playing a lot of the same notes after all these years, but he hit it right when talking about the NFL and the pain of going to live football games (and is already beating this into the ground). It also applies to college football as well.
This isn’t about the economy. It’s about the fact that it’s more fun to stay home and watch football than it is to sit in crappy seats to watch any team ranging from “lousy” to “mediocre.” It just is. For many fan bases, here are the two choices every Sunday:
Door No. 1 (more expensive): Traffic, parking, long walk to stadium, lousy seats, lifeless state-of-the-art arena, TV timeouts, dead crowds, drunk/bitter fans, more TV timeouts, hiked-up concession prices, PDAs with jammed signals as you’re searching for scores, even more TV timeouts, long walk to car, even more traffic.
Door No. 2 (less expensive): Sofa, NFL package, HD, fantasy scores online, remote control toggling, gambling, access to scores, seven straight hours of football, cell phone calls, beer and food in fridge, no traffic.
I can see going through Door No. 1 once a year just to remind yourself that going to an NFL game sucks. But eight times a year? Unless you had good seats, or unless this was your only excuse to get out of your house and get plastered, why would you? It’s a blue-collar sport with white-collar ticket prices.
As far as Pitt goes, the ticket prices are fine. Even the parking pass isn’t too expensive on its own. But then comes all the mandatory donations, and clearly you have to pony up big to keep a group of any size together in the lots. I know plenty of intentional moves to ruin tailgating happen all over the place. That doesn’t make it acceptable.
My group is spread from Harrisburg to Cleveland and places north and south of Pittsburgh. We have families, jobs, all the crap that keeps us from just popping in the car and going some place.
When we put up the money in March or so for season tickets, it isn’t just buying tickets for the games. It is each of us making a commitment towards getting together with one another in the fall on set dates. Those home dates serve as the lodestone for getting together. Set days that don’t allow the excuse to cancel and argue to do it on another time.
We plan for it. We start to bring our kids so they can experience the fun. The activities before the game. Playing some games in the lot with them. Taking them in and conveying the joy of being at the game and the love for Pitt.
I’m sure Pitt’s braintrust put a lot of thought into this, and concluded since tailgating is important better to at least give large groups at least one outside spot. Of course, they appeared to put no real thought into the best way to do it. Sending people scattered throughout and making it an absolute pain to get to one spot.
That also doesn’t begin to address the other concern. By giving people only one (or maybe two) spots in a regular lot and assuming others will come to those spots they are going to make the parking lots that much more crowded with people relative to space. Rather than 2-4 people per car in the lot, you suddenly jump it to 4-8 or even more. Space becomes more compressed.
Noise is up. More aggravations. Frustration. Then toss in some alcohol.
I can’t help but think that the Pittsburgh police are going to be dealing with some shorter tempers in the lots.
I really am surprised at how dumb this whole thing appears to be. After years of trying to make Pitt games at Heinz Field more fan friendly. Trying to drown out the hardcore naysayers still bemoaning the lack of an on-campus stadium, they do what they can to make the experience as brutally frustrating and painful as they can.
This brings me back to Pitt on the field. If Pitt stumbles in Utah. If they can’t beat Miami on Thursday night. Suddenly they are 1-2. They are out of the rankings and the next game is FIU? What happens then?
Fans still pissed about the extra barriers to tailgating. To getting to their seats. To simply trying to get to the stadium. For what? A team that appears to be failing to meet expectations?
Pitt has sold a lot of tickets this year. Expectations are high. If they don’t meet those expectations and you toss in the complete fuck up that is this parking situation, what happens to those ticket sales in 2011?
I’m not trying to be negative or look for the doomsday scenario. It just looks like this is set up to put even more pressure on the football team. Whether they realized it or not.