Commentary, Sports

Long Beach fans scramble for game tickets

All of my most memorable moments at Long Beach State have happened during sports games. I remember my first time in the Walter Pyramid attending a men’s basketball game. I remember standing in the student section when men’s volleyball defeated UCLA in 2018, the “oh shit, this team might be the real deal” game. (That team, of course, was the real deal, as they went on to win back-to-back championships).

And of course, I remember my first game at Blair Field. The game itself was not important, it wasn’t even a conference contest.

There is something special about leaving campus to enter the city and cheer on your college team with members of the community on a Tuesday night.

Finding street parking, walking down Park Avenue against traffic, provides you with a sense of Long Beach that the campus simply can’t provide.

It was this sense of community that was lacking during the COVID-19 sports season. Yes, we still streamed Long Beach State games and offered support via social media, but as vaccines became more available, fans pestered comment sections asking when they could return in person.

When Long Beach State athletics made the long-awaited announcement that people would be allowed in limited attendance to the remainder of home games, the community virtually rejoiced. Alumni and students alike took to social media and voiced their hopes to attend one of the few remaining games left on the spring schedule.

With the city only allowing 33% capacity, fans were preparing for the race for tickets. The families of student athletes received first priority at all venues, meaning that athletes would be surrounded by those closest to them for their last few games of the year. This also meant that Bohl Diamond at Blair Field was the only stadium that could accommodate selling tickets to fans. And with only three home series remaining, the race became even tighter.

Once athletics released the ticket-selling schedule, the race for tickets became less of a race and more of a maze — for students at least.

The schedule for tickets prioritizes Beach Athletic Fund members who are season ticket-holders and have donated money to the athletics department in the past year. These members get all of Thursday to purchase tickets, and the more money you’ve donated, the earlier access you have.

If you’re not a Beach Athletic Fund member, that means you fall under the general public category, and you get Fridays (the day series begin) to purchase tickets, but the system in place still prioritizes those with an abundance of money. The only way to attend games is to purchase a four-person pod for the entire weekend series, which totals to $240 for the pack, roughly $20 a seat per game.

I personally don’t know any students who would be able to afford this option, and some alumni don’t seem fond of the package either.

“The raising of ticket prices, closing off the grass pavilion, along with no concessions, is the reason we watch Beach Vision at the bars,” said Long Beach State alumnus Dave Cohen, class of 1992. “[The weekend package] is not a smart move. We will not buy a full weekend. We’ll join our friends outside left field.”

Even for those with the means to afford a full weekend of Dirtbags baseball, they have a small window to buy their tickets.

Megan Kerr and her husband have been season ticket-holders at Long Beach State for several years, and were among the crowd of loyal supporters eager to return to Blair Field. Since they already purchased their season tickets, they were waiting for their chance in the tiered schedule for the series against UCSB.

“[Athletics] sent out a notification via email of a few-hour window that we could call in to get tickets. It was a workday afternoon so my husband missed the window and they were sold out.” Kerr said. “They didn’t mention future games, so we are assuming we’ll be notified when the tickets for the next home stand become available. We’ll be on the lookout for it now.”

Considering there’s only two more home series this year, Kerr and her husband have limited time to come up with a game plan. If money isn’t an obstacle, then time and work seem to be getting in the way.

It seems nearly impossible for students to participate in this scramble for tickets — so where does that leave us?

Thanks to the athletic department, we still have a chance to cheer on the ‘Bags through our face masks, 16 chances for each game day to be exact.

For current CSULB students, there are eight two-person pods available for each game in the four-game series. For the Long Beach v. UCSB series, students were notified Tuesday that tickets were available via LBSU’s Twitter and Instagram and were able to log onto a student ticket portal. Through the site, they were permitted to reserve a ticket for themselves and a guest for a $5 refundable charge, which was refunded once the tickets were used.

My advice is to put @LBSUAthletics posts on notifications if you’re hoping to score some tickets. There are 16 student tickets available for each game in a four-game series and, with two remaining home series, that leaves a total of 128 student tickets, barring any game cancelations. The roughly 40,000 enrolled students can figure that out.

Sadly, it feels as though students were included in the plan for attendance only as an afterthought. While I understand the sentiment of rewarding the loyal program donators, the schedule for ticket sales seems to prioritize people with more money and down time.

Selling single game tickets instead of weekend packages could leave more room and tickets for students and alumni who simply can’t afford to spend the $240. Those who are willing to spend all three days at Blair Field will most likely be attending games next season as well, while graduating students may be facing their last year in the city, and their last chance to see the Dirtbags as students.

Attending a game at Blair Field is a right of passage for Long Beach State students, one that seems out of reach for most of us, at least until next year.

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