I’m a huge baseball fan. But, it’s only now that I will have the opportunity to go to an MLB game. The last time I was in America was years ago, before I was even a baseball fan, and it costs a lot with flights and tickets. It costs a bit more if your team are on the West Coast.
I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, there could never be another team for me. When I went to SF, I fell in love with the city. A couple of years later, I got ill. Cue sleepless nights with only baseball for company. The Giants became my team.
Since then, they’ve gone from downright terrible to World Champs 3 times and back to heartbreakingly awful. But, I’m still a Giants fan. I sleep with San Francisco radio station on every night, I sleep in my 50th San Francisco anniversary t-shirt. And now, in London, I get to wear my Giants shirt to an MLB ballgame.
Over the past few years, London has seen NFL coming to Wembley become a regular fixture on the sports calendar. Indeed MLB has seen regular season games start in Japan and Australia, even this year, the Dodgers and the Padres played some games in Mexico. It seemed that it was only a matter of time before MLB came to the UK for a London Series.
When it was all finally announced that MLB was coming to London, I genuinely felt a dread like I was facing the Leaving Cert again (Irish equivalent to A Levels).
There could only ever be two teams to bring the sport to the UK, World Champions, Boston Redsox and their biggest rivals New York Yankees. As a Liverpool FC fan, the team share an owner with the Red Sox, so I will obviously be cheering for them.
It will also be interesting to see what impact the Yankees have on UK clothing. I have long thought that the Yankees were more a clothing brand here than anything else. I wonder if that will change.
The Hunt For Tickets
I had registered for pre-sale tickets with MLB and with London Stadium. The MLB pre-sale tickets went on sale at 1000 on December 3. I can only describe the hour it took me to get tickets and completely stomach churning.
I had 3 screens open, one work computer, one iPad and my phone, trying to get tickets. I had already registered with Ticketmaster and had updated my password so everything was ready to go. Yeah… no!
The spinning wheel of doom, just kept on spinning. It took my 50 minutes even to get through to where I could choose tickets. When I did get through, I had picked 2 tickets in the £65 bracket for Saturday, then a notice from Ticketmaster came. My account did not exist.
I had to set up another account and the only two tickets, the site would allocate to me were 2 tickets at £340 each, £780 in total. Jeezus lads! I couldn’t afford that, I’m not sure there are that many that could.
The Ticketmaster site also had a couple of little snags along the way, you had to click through each price bracket you wanted to pay for tickets. When I tried to get two tickets at a cheaper price, I got nothing.
After trials and deliberations with myself, I decided I would be going to the games on my own. I managed to get a £65 for Saturday and a £35 ticket for Sunday. I managed to get tickets for both days.
A Word of Caution
A couple of things emerged from that day. Ticketmaster and MLB knew beforehand how many people had registered for presale. The Ticketmaster site definitely wasn’t able for the traffic. Realistically, people always complain about Ticketmaster. They are a nightmare at the best of times and their charges are ridiculous, both for punters and for gig/venue promoters. Both games are both sold out.
The other point that concerns me more is that the game, while MLB is trying to promote a new sport here, it is pricing the regular Joe baseball fan out of going to the games. Looking for tickets on StubHub right now, the cheapest tickets are £123.02 each
Two things to consider, Wembley is a bigger venue for NFL. It has a capacity of 90000. Three games a year mean 270000 punters. London Stadium capacity is 66000. That capacity is still bigger than Yankee Stadium (54251) or Fenway (37371). The London Series is a two game series, which if a regular season game, can be a bit of a throw away series, there’s not that many of them. Turn the London Series into a three game series. That means 196000 people could then go see them icons of the sport. Don’t forget, we’re not only talking about UK fans but the US fans that want to make the journey also.
Looking forward to Summer 2019
As bad as the ticket torture of December 3rd was, I’m really looking forward to Summer 2019. I might be going on my own but I’ve already arranged to meet up with a fellow San Francisco Giants fan beforehand. No doubt, there will be a Festival of Baseball. I’m looking forward to cheering on the RedSox, booing the Yankees, a bench clearing brawl and a lot of fun!