Vincent Prego remembers shelling out $2 for decent seats to see Toronto's newest sporting franchise - the Toronto Blue Jays - play ball in 1977.
Yesterday, the factory worker stepped away from the Gate 9 ticket window at Rogers Centre holding a $95 season pass that gives him unlimited access to 500-level nosebleed seats.
It's not a bad deal, considering he expects to see 20 games, but he still thinks the modern-day Jays brass could take some cues from their predecessors about how to woo fans. "It would help if they lowered the prices for good seats," he said.
That was just one idea coming from people who lined up to shell out between $14 to $210 to watch the Jays face the Boston Red Sox last night. From ladies nights to cheaper booze, fans said management could do better than the odd Twoonie Tuesday to convince Torontonians to spend their evenings at the ball game.
Not that Jays officials aren't trying new things. On Tuesday they're borrowing a tactic used by the NBA, holding their first Tweeting Tuesdays, allowing fans who use Twitter to communicate with some of the team's players and other fans. "It's a way of raising awareness through people's desire to connect," said Anthony Partipilo, vice-president of marketing and merchandising.
They also invited season ticket owners such as Don Wright to come see the Jays' pregame batting practice. But Wright grew uneasy as he and his 12-year-old son, Max, watched the minutes tick past the 4:15 p.m. start time. The last time they showed up at one of these promotions - a pregame barbecue - it ran so far behind they ended up being shepherded into their seats with empty stomachs, he said. "They have a faux culture of listening to their fans."
Prego, on the other hand, wishes he could live like a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. For $30 (U.S.), they get seats in the right field bleachers and unlimited food. The same amount in Toronto leaves you hungry.
Fans who had no complaints tended to be younger, including 27-year-old Daniel Devellis of Markham, Ont., who paid $57 for his ticket to the Jays' game last night against the Red Sox. "What are you going to get for 57 bucks these days?" he said. "You can't even fill up a tank of gas."
"I'm not going to lie, I paid $100 for the season opener," said Raphael Torres, 29, who lives in a condo near Rogers Centre. But he said it was worth it, and it's no more expensive to watch the Jays than it was for him to watch the Yankees when he lived in New York, he said.
There's just one big difference with the Jays, he said. "They lose."
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