Over the weekend I caught up with a friend of mine, Mark, who has worked in ticket sales for various sports teams throughout the city. For the past couple of years, we routinely get together, watch the Phillies on TV, sip some bourbon and shoot the shit.
On Sunday, we watched the new look Phillies in a weekend sweep of the Braves. What should’ve been a meaningless April baseball game was anything but. However, what we both noticed was just how many people sat solo in the ballpark. The focus of this particular game soon became less the game and more the people who we could find spending time alone.
“Crazy thing is they’re probably season ticket holders too,” he joked. But it was no laughing matter; according to my buddy, who has sold everything from single-game ticket sales to premium seating, those solo fans likely shelled out big bucks to sit alone.
“You don’t know how many calls we get from people who buy full season plans for one,” Mark said. “People who literally call up to make installment plans to reserve one seat. It’s a thing, man. We get those calls all the time.”
I didn’t believe him, so on Monday, I called the Phillies and Eagles ticket offices to inquire. Sure enough, if I wanted to, I could reserve a ticket for one for the season. In the case of the Phillies, the representative I spoke with even offered to pro-rate the three games missed from the home opener into full season plan just to get me in the building.
Pretending to be someone who was concerned by image, I asked the representative if this was a common thing. Though he wasn’t able to provide an exact number of just how many single-seat season plans they have, he did confirm my friend’s claim – even adding in a few more tidbits of insight.
“Sure, it’s normal; you don’t need to feel bad about doing it,” said the Phillies representative. “We get people buying seasons for one all the time. A lot of times, you know it’s a lot of retired people where it’s just them and coming to a game gives them something to do and they’ll just buy one ticket. But we do get a lot of calls from people who just love baseball, but can’t find anyone that would go with them so they’ll purchase just one ticket. Really, [it’s as easy as] you just talk to [one of our] full season sales [representative] and they can take care of all of that for you.”
Maybe I’m naive and this is something that everyone knew, but to me, this came as a complete shock to me. I’ve always viewed sporting events as a group activity, having someone to tailgate with, fist bump when a big play happens, and challenge to a hot dog eating contest on Dollar Dog Night. Perhaps single seat season ticket holders are purists of the sport and readily prefer to see a contest live.
But for every one of them, there’s an equal number that just don’t have anyone to invite.
I’ve lived in Philadelphia all my life and am well aware of the “no new friends” vibe we give off. Shit, you can barely get a smile from someone while walking down the street so I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to be a transplant from another city, town or even country and attempt to break through.
The level of cliquey-ness here is just insane.
Like New York is a city that never sleeps, we are a city that never leaves. How many of us have parents living less than an hour away, have friends from grade school still in the neighborhood, or have a weekend duo, trio or foursome that we do everything with – EVERY time we go out?
I’m even guilty to some extent. I have three friends I’ve known since high school that I group chat with regularly. Both are from neighboring high schools not too far from my own that I only live about 30 minutes away from.
I was on a Reddit forum from a while back and the whole thread was about just how hard it is to meet people here. Some people within the forum even noted that they had to go above and beyond and change the way they’d normally behave, just to stand out.
But other people made great suggestions like joining sports leagues and meetup groups as an easier way to break the ice, but if you’re naturally a shy person then that only becomes a nice thought.
So I offer this tiny suggestion. Let’s all do our part in meeting some new people, Philly. Who knows, you may inspire someone to up their season ticket plan and invite you to a game or two.