Alan Gordon, a 37-year-old Phoenix ophthalmologist, is an Arizona Diamondbacks loyalist. He waited eagerly for managing general partner Jerry Colangelo to complete the deal-making that eventually brought the Diamondbacks to town and says, had it gone to a ballot, he would have voted for an increased sales tax to build Bank One Ballpark. He shares two season tickets in the club section, which, at $50 apiece, means it cost him $1,600 to go to 16 games with a friend or family member.
But after learning on Sept. 26 (during Fan Appreciation Weekend, which closed Arizona's inaugural season) that the Diamondbacks had decided to raise prices in 1999. Gordon blew a fuse. He's a silent majority fan, the kind not often heard from, but now he's talking, and we think he deserves to be heard.
"My $50 seats are going to $55," says Gordon. "The $25.50 seats are going to $35. I'm lucky. I have some disposable income. But the everyday fan has been priced out of baseball, yet the Diamondbacks keep pushing.
"It started with the stadium tax. I think fans would've voted for it, but, no, they ram it down our throats without a vote. [ Maricopa County citizens were assessed $238 million in taxes to build the BOB.] The ballpark is wall-to-wall ads. We call it ' Bank One Billboard.' That's all revenue [reportedly $150 million per year] for the team. Not a minute goes by during a game when there's not some announcement about a promotion sponsored by some company. Someday we'll hear, 'Tonight's seventh inning stretch is brought to you by....'
"Then there are the prices in the ballpark. After a public outcry, the Diamondbacks finally allowed fans to bring in a small cooler, but it's only for plastic water bottles. So you pay for the $4.25 hot dogs, the $6 beers. That's after you pay 10 bucks to park your car.
"And you're watching a loser. [ Arizona's 65-97 record was the third-worst this season.] I understand that winning teams don't happen overnight, but how can you raise prices when there's no expectation you'll be putting a winner on the field next year? The Diamondbacks say they did it because they need to spend to stay competitive. Are we stupid? The increase is to make more money.
"Then they have the audacity to ask for half of the 1999 season-ticket money by Oct. 30. So they can use that money to make even more money. Pure greed. I know most season-ticket holders will return, or the Diamondbacks will get some new ones. But if it means anything, they've lost me."