Online sale leaves Rockies fans cranky
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER ” The problems with the Colorado Rockies’ last-minute World Series ticket sale left a bitter taste for fans who’d long suffered the team’s woes on the field and rejoiced in the phenomenal ride that brought them their first National League title.
But with success come dollars and buzz ” and that success squeezed thousands out of Coors Field before the series against Boston comes to Denver this weekend.
An online ticket selling fiasco ” which drew a critical editorial from the Rocky Mountain News ” seemed to make everyone forget for a moment about the Rockies’ amazing run. But now that all the tickets are gone, fans say they still love their team, though they’re less than thrilled with top management’s performance.
For years, and certainly most of this season, Rockies fans were accustomed to getting in at any moment, thanks to a team better known for losing records. Sellouts were rare, and residents could buy game-day tickets at local supermarkets. Seats in the center-field “Rockpile” section cost a paltry $4 ” leaving plenty for overpriced beers.
Even during the playoffs, seats weren’t impossible to come by ” and they were filled by locals.
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Now the retro stadium seems like a favorite local hangout that’s suddenly become a scene. Tickets to the three possible games at Coors Field sold out in about 2 1/2 hours online Tuesday.
The first sale, on Monday, had to be halted after officials said alleged ticket hoarders tried to game the system. The Rockies blamed an “external, malicious attack,” but they never explained to their fans what it was, and there’s no evidence the team sought any help from law enforcement.
Fans waiting for something ” anything ” outside the stadium booed a team spokesman Monday. They were back Tuesday, despite the Internet-only sale, hoping for a miracle: Perhaps the Rockies would revert to an original plan to sell some tickets at the box office.
There, at least, die-hards with a lot of patience and cold-weather gear could actually beat those “MIT kids” with supercomputers that some grumbled about.
Some fans talked about greed and how the Internet favored the “Hannah Montana crowd,” allowing the computer-savvy from anywhere in the world to snap up tickets and flip them for thousands of dollars online, maybe coupled with a night’s stay at a downtown hotel and a rental car.
Others worried that with too many outsiders ” including Red Sox fans ” getting tickets, the Rockies, despite their sprinkling of followers across the West, would lose their home-field advantage.
The team insists that more than 80 percent of Series tickets sold went to people with Colorado zip codes.
Even though ticket brokers can use multiple computers to buy tickets online, Dave Butler, CEO of Paciolan, which ran the Rockies sale, said the average purchase was for just over three tickets. He said that indicated that many buyers were regular fans.
Butler apologized to fans for Monday’s meltdown. On Tuesday, he said, the company was able to block computers that attempted to overload the site or buy as many tickets as possible by faking a code meant to ensure that an actual person was buying.
Some 750,000 people were online when Tuesday’s sale opened, but only about 16,000 got tickets ” roughly one lucky person in 50. Butler still thinks selling such tickets online is fairer and quicker than making people wait in long lines.
“Imagine if 750,000 people stood in line in the parking lot at Coors Field and didn’t get tickets?” he said.
Fans seemed able to separate their feelings about team management from their support of the players, whose payroll is about a third that of the Red Sox.
“I don’t think they can find any reason to hate the players right now,” Jacob Graber, 22, of Littleton, said standing among a happy crowd of fans picking up tickets at Coors Field Wednesday. Even so, Graber said he thought the Rockies should have sold tickets at the stadium with a limit of two to allow more fans a chance to go.
With nary an angry fan in sight, Rockies representatives passed out free bottled water Wednesday. Scalpers did business on the opposite corner.
In between arguing with one of the scalpers, Matt Vaughn said that he struck out trying to buy some $65 Rockpile tickets online and explained how he didn’t like the big business that professional sports has become.
But the 41-year-old software developer still loves the Rockies ” the players, anyway ” and their story, which he thinks will be told 100 years from now.
“Management didn’t tell these players to turn it on. They told themselves to do it,” Vaughn said. “The players did this.”