I don’t usually aim for “newsworthy” material–there’s enough drama in my life already–but I have to pose this question. Since when is price gouging legal?
We went to the Face2Face concert (Billy Joel & Elton John) last night, and it was a normal ride into South Philly up until we got to the parking lot. We have Phillies Sunday season tickets, so usually we pay $12 to park. (It was $11 last year and $10 the year before. As far as I can see, the ballpark hasn’t changed an iota. If someone DARES tell me, “Expenses went up; we have to pay our ticket-takers more”, listen bub: I didn’t get a raise this year, and I was told to “just be happy you still have a job.” Same goes.) Last night we pull up and hear, “$20, please.” Uh, excuse me? Looks like the same ballpark parking lot we’ve been frequenting for 5 years now. Why the sudden one-time uplift in pricing? Okay, fine. Whatever. John hands over the $20 and we’re in.
Now granted, we didn’t read the website ahead of time to see what was permissable to bring into the ballpark and what wasn’t, but when we go to a ball game, it’s fine to bring in a drink (or three) and a sandwich, as long as the drink container is sealed, it isn’t glass, and it’s not beer. I can see the sense in that; baseball is played during the summer when it’s hot. People need to stay hydrated, or they pass out. When you go to the ball games, you have the option to bring your own food or buy theirs. Theirs is pretty good so sometimes we take that option, sometimes we don’t. It’s nice to have a choice.
Anyway, we’d stopped on the way for hoagies at Corropolese’s (shout out; OMG, that was the best Italian hoagie I’ve had in a while) and picked up some bottled water. I didn’t open mine so I brought it to the gate so I wouldn’t have to buy a $4 bottle of water. Cost-saving, right? Not really. I got to the gate and when they checked my bag, they said I couldn’t bring in outside food or drinks. I had to surrender a full, sealed bottle of water, as did the lady ahead of me. Kind of disappointing that I couldn’t bring a $1.39 bottle of water so I could buy their $4 bottle of Dasani. It’s the same water.
Mind you, Citizens Bank Park only shows concerts in the summer. It’s not like they put on a show in December when you DON’T need the water so much. It’s either hydrate or call the medics when I pass out. The water costs the same at the ball games (when it’s optional), so fine, whatever, I’ll deal with it. But we walked up to the stands, thinking I’d buy John a birthday beer, and the same Michelob Ultra that costs $6.75 during the ball games now costs $8.50! Pardon me, but isn’t that the exact same beer we’d buy at a baseball game? Nothing looked different about it. The label wasn’t printed on 24K gold. It wasn’t served to me by a Hooters waitress or a Chippendales dancer. (The guy at the stand was funny, especially when we balked at the price, but I’m sure Citizens Bank Park had nothing to do with that.) We passed on the beer and spent $8 on 2 bottles of water instead. Judging by the crowds around us and the supremely irritating vendors who kept trying to sell beer DURING THE SHOW, we were in the minority. (Hey dude, why don’t you ask me to pass the beer to somebody when I’m not paying $97 to see someone sing, okay? And dude in the middle of the row, how about you drink a little LESS so I don’t have to keep getting up so you can go drain the main vein every 5 minutes?)
And I’m sorry, but Bud Light for $8.50? What did the planners at CBP smoke for lunch? That stuff is beer-flavored water, and they want $8.50 for it? I think not. I wouldn’t even drink it for $2, but every beer they offered was $8.50, regardless of brand (or quality).
The worst part of it is, there was no option. If I wanted water, I either bought theirs or I stuck my head under the fountain for the warm stuff outside the ladies’ bathroom. (‘Nuf said.) Why is it we have options at the baseball games but not at concerts? It’s not like people get more or less drunk at one or the other. Trust me, there were a few folks who were well overserved in our area.
Oh, and don’t let me forget about the $10 margaritas. We didn’t even go near those stands.
I’m going to try to word this into a thoughtful, well-crafted letter to the operators at Citizens Bank Park. What I witnessed last night was nothing less than legalized price gouging.
Oh yeah, and one hell of a great show by Billy Joel and Elton John.
Something else on that “you can’t” sign outside the ballpark: cameras. Yeah, right. We saw flashes going off all over the place. Mine included. You’ll get my camera phone when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands. And let’s not talk about that after-hoagie brownie I smuggled into the ballpark. Neener, neener, neener.