Friday, September 14, 2007

Why I Love The Braves Organization

My friend Jenna and I went to Opening Weekend at Turner Field. Even though we froze, we had a fabulous time. And while we were there, we were reviewing the promotions schedule and decided to go ahead and buy tickets to Brian McCann t-shirt night (August 2).

That Thursday, I came down to the stadium straight from work. Jenna had left my ticket at Will-Call about 20 minutes before I got there, but Will-Call couldn't find took them nearly 15 minutes, and I finally got it from the guy who sits at the Will-Call drop off with the Dwight Schrute hair. When I finally got inside the gate, a guy three people ahead of me got the last shirt, and I was very disappointed. The promotions lady told me to try another gate, so I walked around to the other gates around Fan Plaza -- unfortunately, they were all out too.But wait! There are those quiet little side gates that faces Pollard St.! I was sure they would still have some, because so few people enter the stadium there!

So I ran down to the closest Pollard St. Gate and there was a giant box of shirts there, with a woman passing them out. Woo! I'm going to get a McCann shirt! But she refused to give me a shirt, and the girl beside me told me that the employee was quite rude and told her that these shirts were not for people already inside the park. I tried to talk to her, but she completely ignored me. I even offered to let her check my bag so she could be sure I wasn't trying to swipe more than one shirt! All attempts to speak to her got me a nasty look and no verbal response. The young man who was helping her apologized for her behavior and tried to offer me a foam tomahawk, but I already have three and don't need another one. I gave up and went to my seat, very disappointed. After I'd been in my seat for a few innings, I thought, "The promotion said 'for the first 10,000 fans in the park'. Which I was."

Some fans would have just snatched a shirt and walked away, but I'm not usually an angry confrontational person, and I didn't want to be escorted out by security and miss the game that we had been looking forward to for so long.

The next morning at work, it didn’t take much investigating to find the name, phone number, and title of someone in the Braves Executive Office who might be sympathetic to my story. We traded a few voice mails on Friday afternoon (I was in North Georgia with some friends and didn't have good reception), and finally decided to put a letter in the mail on Saturday, detailing my experience.

I made it clear that I was not writing the letter to ask him to send me a shirt. I didn't even care about the shirt anymore; I shelled out $25 and bought one in the Clubhouse store. I was just so disappointed that I have spent hundreds of dollars of my modest salary supporting the Braves this season between game attendance (I think my number will be 15 games at the end of next week, including a trip to see them in St. Louis), merchandise, concessions, two subscriptions to Chop Talk, and even brought 26 people to the park for my birthday in May. The games I can't attend live, I watch on TV.

The letter was a testament that I have been a Braves fan for life, and I don't anticipate that changing. But I can only hope that, in the future, the promotions staff will be a little kinder.

I do see how several situations worked against me that night. If I had left work early (which wasn't a possibility that day), I would have gotten a shirt. If Will-Call had had the ticket situation straight, I would have been in the gates at least 10 minutes earlier and would have gotten a shirt. If that particular promotions employee hadn't been so rude, I would have gotten a shirt.

Manager Man called me Tuesday morning to tell me he got the letter, apologized for the situation, then offered to send me some of the leftover McCann shirts. I told him that would be fine, but reiterated what I said in the letter, that I wasn't trying to get free stuff; I just wanted him to be aware of the situation, from a managerial perspective. He said he had looked me up in the system and saw how many tickets I bought this year (a lot, ha ha -- I usually buy tickets for the games when my friends go, and he saw my birthday group purchase) and wanted to know if I would like to attend a game "courtesy of the Braves". Yes, please!

A nice box arrived within a few days with a couple of T-shirts (in my size! lucky guess.) and last Saturday, he left me four Lexus Level tickets and four passes to the 755 Club at Will Call.

I love the Braves.

(See more pictures from the Free Game! here.)

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