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Sports Corner

Save big bucks on sports tickets

The new paradigm of seating
Photo: SFGiants.com

Craigslist and Stubhub did not exist back on Oct. 10, 1988, the day I showed up at Shea Stadium in Queens with extra tickets to the day’s Mets vs. Dodgers playoff game. It’s a long story best accompanied by cheap drinks, but the previous night’s game had been rained out, and “friends” left me holding their tickets that I had bought but they hadn’t paid for.

I attempted to sell the extra tickets in the Shea Stadium parking lot. A friendly-looking guy approached, showed me some money, then showed me his police badge.

He arrested me for ticket scalping. That sucked big time, and worse, all my tickets were confiscated. I had to buy — scalp — a ticket to get into the game, and the rotten icing on the cake was the Dodgers won.

These days, the methods for buying and selling sporting event tickets are multiplying faster than E. coli. And, oddly, people sitting in the same cluster of seats in the same stadium for the same game with the same dollar amount imprinted on their tickets will, most likely, have paid very different prices.

For folks who don’t want to sink a lot of time into earning a Ph.D. in buying discount tickets, there is an interesting new ticket purveyor: Scorebig.com. Scorebig takes advantage of a little-known phenomenon of sporting-event sales: when a game is advertised as sold out, usually it is not really, truly, actually sold out.

Teams often hold back tickets, intending to give them to players, employees, friends, community groups, advertisers, and anyone else they’re trying to please. These tickets often go unused. Enter Scorebig, which promises up to 60 percent off face value. Unlike Stubhub or buying tickets through team websites, Scorebig does not charge any fees.

Scorebig is potentially very useful for less-popular games, for grabbing a block of tickets for an office outing or birthday party, or for snagging seats right up next to the field for a deep discount.

But just like the possibility of out-of-towners nabbing a hotel room with a bay view for next year’s America’s Cup (not gonna happen), Scorebig is not meant for highly anticipated games.

Another drawback is that Scorebig is clumsily emulating one of the facets of the Priceline model, in which you choose your class of hotel room (or ticket), but not the specific hotel (seat). Priceline ranks hotels by number of stars; Scorebig ranks seat sections by number of stars.

The starring system for AT&T Park seems a bit arbitrary, in which Scorebig’s four-star seats encompass the entire arcade, the upper-deck box seats, and the lower-bowl seats way out in the left-field corner. To me, the left-field corner seats are a bit like Sara Palin’s Alaska: I can see Russia from there. I’d be p.o.’ed to wind up there rather than the arcade. Oddly, across the bay at the A’s stadium, Scorebig’s breakdown between five-star seats and four-star seats is much more logical.

Also, if you’re going with little kids whose views can be blocked by adults strolling the aisle in front of you, know that you have no control over which row Scorebig is going to assign you.

Once you choose your game and your star-level of section, then you enter a price. Whether Scorebig accepts your price or not is the result of an algorithm that is beyond the purview of this sports department to elucidate.

For the less-popular games, Scorebig is likely to save fans lots of money. This will be especially satisfying for fans who aren’t going to get all apoplectic about their exact seat location.

And it might provide peace of mind to know that in using Stubhub, Scorebig, or SFGiants.com, you’re not likely to be arrested.

Strange, Dreamlike Opening Day

Reality is in the eye of the beholder. Giants opening day was free at AT&T Park. How’s that, Steve? The catch was that the Giants were playing the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, and the action was being broadcast on AT&T Park’s center field scoreboard and myriad TVs.

A few thousand fans drifted in and out of the stadium. Thousands of free hot dogs and orange foam No. 1 fingers were given out. Fans were permitted to stroll on the warning track that encircles the field, to go in the dugout and the clubhouse, to purchase beer, more hot dogs, and knickknacks. All the while the game played out on the scoreboard, eliciting cheers and groans in the 9/10ths-empty stadium.

Most sports fans have had dreams like this. I’m there, but the team isn’t. I’m eating a hot dog. There’s a mustard stain on my satchel. Everyone else is very friendly and happy.

In the dugout, fan John Craighead noted, “It’s once in a lifetime. We probably won’t be back in the dugout.”

The seagulls were in midseason form, swooping low above the field-level seats, squawking after discarded greasy bits and poop-bombing fans without respect for orange-and-black garments. Fans retreated under the overhang, leaving the choice seats to the buzzing gulls.

In the ninth inning, when Pablo Sandoval smacked a two-out double to the gap in left center, a cheer erupted and all eyes focused past left center to the TV scoreboard, and for a moment it was almost as if Sandoval were cruising into second base before our eyes.

Steve Hermanos is the author of O, Gigantic Victory! Baseball Poems: The 2010 Championship Season. He is also a real estate agent at 2200 Union Street. E-mail: [email protected]
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