In a first of its kind, the Oakland Athletics have announced that they will scrap their season ticket plans for the 2019 season. The Tampa Bay Rays management should keep a close eye on this potentially ground-breaking strategy.
As first mentioned on sfgate.com on July 30, the A’s will present fans with new and different opportunities to enjoy A’s games. Described by A’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Giles this way:
"“From access to every game to special member concessions pricing, we’re focused on maximizing the value proposition for members. We are inviting our fans to truly become members of the A’s.”"
“Members” will have general admission access to every game, but can pay more to have reserved seats. Cheap beer and hot dogs come as part of the plan. This announcement makes me wonder if the Tampa Bay Rays front office was paying attention. With the Rays building a promising young team, optimism is growing in the area for what this team could do in upcoming seasons. What better way to bid adieu to Tropicana Field than to try something new?
What could All Access look like at Tropicana Field for the Tampa Bay Rays?
Let’s face it. Tropicana Field has a love/hate relationship with Tampa Bay. Either you love it or you hate it. It’s that simple. Regardless, for all the games I’ve been to in the summer months, I can’t remember one time when a fan was walking in from the parking lots, felt the first blast of air conditioning come blowing out the doors, and exclaim some sort of thankful blessing. Unfortunately for the Rays, convincing fans to make that drive and walk into Tropicana Field has been a real challenge. It’s time to get creative.
What if the Rays sold season tickets for their weekend games which included all access to all other games played at the Trop? A simple wristband during weekday games lets you roam the ballpark and watch from, say, the Budweiser Porch in center field. Need to expand the casual areas to watch? Tear out sections 147 – 150 in the outfield and replace them with in an artificial turf berm so fans can lounge on the ground and watch.
What if you did the same thing for all 81 home games? Maybe you don’t like to be strapped down to a chair in the stands. You want to socially roam around the outfield areas, drink a few beverages and enjoy the ambiance of major league baseball. Buy the knot-hole plan and watch as much baseball as you want, you just don’t get a seat.
Give the Oakland A’s credit. They are willing to try something new and different. They, too, see a team that struggles to draw fans but are putting an improving team on the field. Let’s face it. The Rays are going to move in a few years to a new stadium, most likely in Tampa. They should be making one last ditch effort to build a reliable fan base willing to come out and watch a game live.