ONEOK Field: Only premium seating

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After a brief visit to a nearby church's Easter egg hunt (where we bumped into Tasha Does Tulsa and her family, and where my four-year-old picked up only one blue egg and decided he was done, and my nine-year-old decided she was too old to participate), we headed downtown for DrillersFest and a sneak preview of ONEOK Field, the new stadium for Tulsa's minor league baseball team.

The stadium, financed by downtown property owners, both willing and unwilling, is an attractive facility with a stunning view of the downtown skyline. The ability to look in on the game from the street is a very nice feature. You'll be able to keep an eye on the game while waiting in line for food or watching your kid on the outfield playground. Shagging for foul balls ought to be the best it's been since the days of old Oilers Stadium next to the Fairgrounds racetrack pits, and since Elgin is a public street, Mr. Lamson won't be able to chase the shaggers away.

When the move downtown was first being discussed, I wrote that it would be great for downtown, particularly the Blue Dome and Bob Wills Districts, but maybe not such a good thing for the Drillers. Today's visit reinforced that concern.

As I was waiting in line for hot dogs (which became hamburgers when they ran out), I noticed that the seating below the concourse was labeled "club seating." Above the concourse are the luxury boxes. Both are types of premium seating. So where, I wondered, is general admission? Where are the cheap reserved seat sections?

In going from about 11,000 seats to about 6,000 seats, they've eliminated the middle-class seating section, the part of Driller Stadium where you could have a great view of the game for less than the price of a movie ticket. In ONEOK Field, $8 is the minimum for sitting anywhere near the infield; $10 if you want to be between 1st and 3rd.

You can still get a $5 ticket, but in ONEOK Field that entitles you to sit on the grass way out in the outfield. For $7 you can sit at a picnic table behind right field. For an indication of how much action you'll see in right field, know that my 3rd grade little league coach put me -- when he let me play -- in right field and hoped a lefty wouldn't come up to bat.

At the old park, you could pay reserved seat prices and sit behind home plate, up a ways, but in the shade and sheltered from rain. A couple of sections further down the foul lines, you still had a great view of the field for general admission prices.

The seven Tuesday home games will be cheap at the new park -- $3 off any available seat, and hot dogs, pretzels, pizza slices, and soft drinks for $2.

It was said, when the Drillers' move downtown was first being discussed, that the old stadium was just too big. Was the real problem that the old stadium has too many good seats at cheap prices, not enough incentive for fans to pay for premium seating?

Hopefully, the Drillers' new, more upscale clientèle will spend more in the park and before and after at the areas eateries and watering holes.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 3, 2010 11:48 PM.

A happy place in Kansas was the previous entry in this blog.

Ways my kids delighted me today is the next entry in this blog.

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