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VOLUME 1, NUMBER 32    <>   MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2000

buyer up!

If you regard the prospect of spending three hours watching grown men wave a stick at a ball as the ultimate in boredom, this column is not for you. But for the sake of those whose hearts go pit-a-pat at the unmistakable sound of polished ash meeting leather, the Call offers the following aperÁus on the local state of our national pastime.

To the delight of even diehard skeptics, the baseball season is heating up and San Francisco is on a roll. PacBell continues to delight. To a man or woman, out-of-town guests utter the de rigueur comment that now must come with all airline packets, "It looks just like an old ballpark!" Nevertheless, Pete Magowan and his staff have plenty to keep them busy next winter. The hallways suck cold air in from the wide open front entrance like a sumo wrestler slurping soba. The state-of-the-art scoreboard, with its incessant speedboat races and celebrity trivia, is a perpetual source ofÖ some overpowering emotion that I canít quite identify. In fact, the scoreboard itself triggers deep-seated responses, as eyes are forced to sift through a visual cacophony of overshadowing ads to find out the ERA of the pitcher who just stepped onto the mound. But just to be present at this time in baseball history is a privilege, right?

In the midst of the euphoria over winning games in a winning stadium, has anyone paid much attention to the Giantsí new systems for providing eager fans with tickets? With PacBell Park nearly sold out from the day its doors opened, conventional channels avail naught. Itís still possible to get a seat, the Giantsí PR puffs. Say you wake up one morning with an overwhelming urge to go to a ballgame. Not to worry. Five hundred tickets have been set aside for day-of-game sales. All you need to do is show up four hours before the game begins, to receive a numbered wristband. Stick around for an hour, to hear which wristband, drawn at random, will be first in line to purchase tickets. Wait another hour for the ticket windows to open. Of course, the Giants add, "Ticket availability and locations are always subject to availability."

TIX.jpg (16705 bytes)Or you can go the splurge route and visit the Giantí Double Play Ticket Window, where nonattendees sell their tickets to grateful fans. Amazing bargains occasionally appear. This week a couple with $1,100 could nab a couple of Premium Field Club seats for the Cubs game on September 3. But most pairs run in the $100-200 range, to purchase tickets that cost their original owners $40Ė50 for the two. Itís unclear what happens to the surplus. An Examiner story written in June, when the service began, says, "Season ticket holders can list their seats for resale on the web at face value or above, with the Giants taking a 10 percent cut of the sale price." The receipt for recently purchased pair bore the notation "ticket value: $61.00; handling, $47.90." Bureaucratic euphemism? Perhaps. The receipt also carried the heading "bass tickets," while the teamís web site announces, "For your convenience, all transactions are handled by the Giants." The Giants didnít respond to a request for elucidation.

Nevertheless, the free enterprise system is still alive and well in this city. The dot.com world itself has stepped into the breach. Not only does our hometown Mr. Fix-It, Craigís List, list a variety of Giants tickets. A site maintained by Helder Balelo also offers a wide range of seats and prices.

Play ball!