Our recent post about the excellent service provided by Reds’ employees drew some attention from around the ‘net. A reader emailed with more praise for the Reds, and I wanted to share it here. We bang on the Reds sometimes (although we’ve been uniformly positive about the new ownership, and I think that’s where the credit for all this should lie), but it’s good to point out that they’re doing some things right.

You will recall that we expressed our disappointment at the team’s new ticketing system, at least with respect to Opening Day. Well, our reader and his son were frustrated as well, with good reason, and the son fired off the following email to the Reds, just a few hours before the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown on Opening Day:

Subject: Opening Day Streak Stopped

Mr. Castellini & Mr. Allen,

I want to first thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I am writing you because this is the first time in 25 years that my father will not be attending opening day. For the last 17 of those years I have accompanied him to Caddy’s, GameDay, Head First and many other establishments. After eating “breakfast” at one of these fine establishments we would head to Fountain Square to watch the Parade.

Even as I grew older, I always enjoyed watching the parade because I was with my dad on Opening Day in Cincinnati. What could possibly be better?

Through the rain, sometimes snow, the tragedy of the death of John McSherry, and even paying way too much for tickets to the first game at GABP…my dad and I were at Opening Day. However, this year is different. Neither of us will be at the game today, and not because we don’t want to be. It has been 12 years since this team was in playoffs, but did that stop my dad and I from supporting the team? No, it did not; we were at EVERY Opening Day and numerous games throughout the seasons. Our streak stopped this year because of you two gentlemen.

The new ticket system for purchasing Opening Day tickets is completely unfair to my father and me. We are diehard Reds fans, but we cannot afford to purchase a season ticket package, and while we will probably attend 10 games this season, we should be able to choose which 10 games, not you. Yes, we entered the online lottery for the chance to have the opportunity to perhaps be able to possibly buy Opening Day tickets, but sadly, we did not win. So for the first time in almost two decades [XXXXX], Sr. & [XXXXX], Jr. will not be at Opening Day, but I can assure that every ticket scalper in the city will have handfuls of tickets that he will be selling for two and three times face value.

If this is the system that you feel best suits your organization that I can safely say that my father and I have most likely attended our last Opening Day. We will still listen to every game, especially with Marty and Thom now working together. (An excellent hire, along with Jeff Brantley – just added to the best radio coverage in baseball) Watch with the sound down when the games are on TV, but not being able to enjoy the atmosphere of Opening Day with my father is the biggest disappointment in my life in a long time. While that might seem trivial to some people, some of my fondest memories are at Reds games with my father, many on Opening Day. So I say thank you for those memories, but because of you two gentlemen I will never get the chance to make new ones with him, and if I am every lucky enough to have a son I will not get the chance to make those same memories with him and his grandfather.

Again, I thank you for your time in reading this letter. Good Luck today and throughout the season.


Roughly an hour later, John Allen had responded personally, after locating a couple of seats 13 rows from the Reds on-deck circle.

The father’s assessment: “My son and I had great day thanks to John Allen. He is a class guy.”

I love stories like this. After years of anti-marketing (“We can’t compete!”), I’m so happy to see the team I love make a concerted effort to keep the fans happy.

It’s a great time to be a Reds fan.

About The Author

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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22 Responses

  1. dfs

    I hate to be a kill-joy, but it’s gonna take a lot more out of John Allen than to give tickets to random fans who complain to him. Allen was part of the unholy trinity that is pretty much responsible for the last 5 years. Allen, Bowden and Linder sold the fans out. It’s gonna take more than a nice press story about a couple of freebies to make me forget.

  2. steve wolf

    the tickets were not freebies..we paid face value…we were not looking for “freebies”, just the opportunity to purchase ticets.

  3. Daedalus

    awesome story.

    if the reds want to sell these power packs to get opening day tix, they should be allowed to do so, but i also think they should let fans purchase which games they get to attend for the powerpacks. and make opening day part of the ten game package, not an additional eleventh game. and they should make more tix available in the lottery.

    it’s the law of supply and demand. i really did appreciate seeing a stadium packed full of reds fans instead of cubs fans.

  4. dfs

    My apologies Mr. Wolf. I certainly meant no disrespect in your direction.

    John Allen, on the other hand, can go pound sand.

  5. Mr. Redlegs

    You can’t allow the fans to pick the 10 games in those plans. I don’t know of any teams that do that. Otherwise, fans would pick all weekend games, or all games against the top teams.

    What’s the point of having a package if they allow you to pick th egames? Just buy individual seats for the games you want.

    The real point of the smaller package plans is to give you a few attractive games but also get you into the park on weeknights, or against the teams they don’t normally sell very well.

    Packaging these plans with the most highly demanded ticket–Opening Day–is not an idiotic marketing ploy . . . in most cities. But in Cincinnati, where Opening Day is a de facto holiday with tens of thousands of people wanting tickets available only 42,000, they’re better off with a lottery system for the tickets not consumed in the bigger season-ticket plans.

    Eliminating the camp-outs for Opening Day tickets was the right thing to do. That’s how the scalpers got possession of all the seats. And they’re not discouraging scalpers with these 10-game plans. They can sell the Opening Day tickets for such a profit they can literally throw away the other nine games.

  6. Mr. Redlegs

    I meant throw away the other 10 games. . . .

  7. greg

    Ever done crappy work for a bad boss before? I think that’s the case with John Allen.

    When the guy who’s pulling the purse strings is an idiot (Lindner) it’s sorta hard to do your job well.

  8. Mr. Redlegs

    I agree, Greg. I’ve always found John Allen to be a reasonable, approachable man who is (first and foremost) a company man. He’s a bean counter, and a pretty good one.

    He was simply out of his element running the baseball side of the front office. He’s not overtly imaginative but from the business standpoint he’s done some good work. That’s what the presidents of teams do–handle the business end.

    And in Allen’s case, he carries out the mandate of the owner. He’s very loyal in that regard.

  9. Chad

    I’ve never met John Allen. But evidence is beginning to mount that Carl Lindner put Allen in a position where he had no business being.

    Under Castellini, the entire organization just has a different attitude towards fans, and it’s so refreshing. I’m willing to give Allen the benefit of the doubt here.

    I disagree with many personnel decisions made by the Reds, but I’m very pleased with the direction of the organization.

  10. Daedalus

    there are always ways to get around the issues you bring up, redlegs, if you are able to think outside the box for a minute. you don’t have to give people free reign over the games they pick. you can give a range of games to choose from.

    it’s not a logistical nightmare, either. it’s no different than having a fan order ten separate games at once. i have ordered five or six games at once several times, and i know i’m not the only one. computers are fascinating machines.

    and frankly, if you actually looked at the games offered in the powerpacks, you would see that they aren’t all those bottom tier teams or weekdays – it’s a mix. allowing a person to pick a mixture would not change anything.

    so what if no one has ever done it before. you know what? no one paid people to play baseball before the reds did it, either. if everyone just shot down ideas because that’s not the way it’s been done, well, humans would be still living in caves.

    and you have to be on crack to think there weren’t scalpers there. did you see ebay? craig’s list?

    step outside the box once in awhile, redlegs. you’ll find the world out here much more pleasant than the bleak and pessimistic picture you always present to everyone.

  11. Mr. Redlegs

    Daedalus, the fantasy fan world you live in does not coincide with the real, logistical, working, day-to-day operations on or off the field of a professional sports franchise.

    At least I can read and comprehend:

    * No one said scalpers would be eliminated by the lottery. That’s impossible. But the lottery cuts down on their access tremendously.

    * No one said mini-plans only got you crappy teams on weeknights. What was said is all these plans–leaguewide–are purposed to get you in the seats for some of the lesser games, along with a few weekend enticements.

    I seem to recall you being a first-time mini-ticket holder in Washington. For those of us who have been season holders for a long time (I’ve had MLB 30-game season tickets since 1992), you come very painfully to understand the limitations, logistics, errors and machinations of ticket distribution.

    In short, it’s a bleeping nightmare for the ticket office. There are huge problems every day with season ticketholders—wrong game, wrong seats, misprints, stolen tickets, counterfeit tickets (a HUGE issue), lost tickets–you name it.

    As an individual-game attendee you just don’t see the hundreds of people crushing the ticket customer service area the day of a game with a ticket crisis.

    Season tickets–even mini plans–are designated to put you in the same seat for all those games. It makes the distribution process clean and easy. But no team I know of gives you the option of picking your games for a plan, or even picking from a selection, because of the logistics of dodging around other ticketholders for those games, other requests for the same packages, and trying to keep you–individually–happy with your game and seat.

    I don’t know if the Reds do this but most teams offer three options for mini-plans: Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. These are different teams on different dates. Plan C is normally a Sunday-only package.

    But if you start allowing people to pick the games in their plans, the logistical nightmares even with computers are such that it’s not worth it to the teams to handle, say, 5,000 individual plan requests in which they can’t possible give you the same seats and in some instances not even the same games. Just go buy the indidviual games you want; season tickets no longer are discounted compared to single-seat sales.

    But, hey, I’ve only been doing this for 26 years at the MLB and NFL level, so what could I possibly know?

  12. RickNMd

    I have to weigh in on this picking your games idea.

    In theory it sounds great but as someone who has been an Orioles mini plan holder since the late 80s, what’s the purpose? Just go buy the games you want to see. There’s no real advantage in being a plan holder unless you get a large package. Even then you don’t get a discount on the price.

    In fact, we got bumped from the lower deck to the upper deck for the playoffs in 1996 and 97 because MLB swept in and grabbed all the lower seats that were not held by 81 game plan holders. They do that at each site for the playoffs.

    In 6 of the past 10 years I’ve had to drive to Camden Yards before opening day to either pick up my tickets or make a correction. And I’m a longtime season ticket holder. I’ve had the same seats since the late 90s.

    We’ve even had times when someone was sitting in our seats and we’re both holding the exact same tickets. Computers are not exact in this process.

    So to allow fans to pick their games in their mini plans? That just seems redundant and pointless and likely a big hassle for everyone involved. Owning a mini plan is hassle enough.

  13. Chris

    I don’t know that the lottery system was unfair, but it was a very nice gesture by the Reds to take care of some long-time customers.

    As for Daedalus’s idea, I don’t think it’s even remotely workable. As Mr. R notes, the idea behind the mini-plans is (from the club’s perspective) to sell seats to less attractive games by bundling them with premium games; and (from the fan’s perspective) purchase at a discount, guarantee the same seats for every game, and get priority for post-season tix (we dream). If you allow every fan to pick his own combination of games, I don’t think you accomplish any of those goals, except possibly the bulk discount idea. Everybody will pick the marquee games, so there goes the “same seat” benefit, as well as the club’s principal reason for doing it (selling tickets to Tuesday night games vs. the Pirates).

    The club still gets some benefit from having more people “inside the tent” of season ticket holder-dom, but the logistical headaches and increased transaction costs would be too much.

    There’s a lot of variety in the mini-packs. With that, and the ability to share packages, most fans should be able to get what they want . . . except those who only want Opening Day seats. At face value.

  14. Chris

    If there’s no discount for mini-plans, I stand corrected, and there’s even less reason for allowing extra choice.

  15. Chris

    HEY! The Reds do have something like Daedalus was suggesting. Check out “Flex Plans”:

    You pick the games and the number of tickets used.
    Includes 20 vouchers per book, redeemable in any combination based on availability at time of redemption (i.e. use 2 vouchers to one game or 10 vouchers to one game).
    Great seat locations at a discount over single-game prices.

  16. preach

    Daedalus, the fantasy fan world you live in does not coincide with the real, logistical, working, day-to-day operations on or off the field of a professional sports franchise.

    Anyone else get a visual of Herve Villechez (sp) wearing a Ken Griffey Jr jersey with a bow tie ringing the bell in the Church of Baseball tower, pointing at Mr. Redleg’s comment above, and yelling “Da plan, Da plan”; or is it just me?

  17. Mr. Redlegs

    Chris, one of my huge beefs with season tickets or mini plans: no discount whatsoever off the face value.

    What you get (the priviledge of): the same seats, generally the option of buying Opening Day tickets, and should your team make the playoffs you have the option of purchasing the following:

    * Divisional games, $35 to $110

    * LCS, $75-$150

    * World Series, $90-$250.

    That’s PER SEAT, PER GAME.

    The post by RickNMd is absolutely correct. MLB bumps everyone from the lower bowl except full season-ticket holders so it can place MLB corporate sponsors, and give an allotment to each MLB team. Obviously, the teams don’t need all those seats but the full-season holders generally get shoved from between the dugouts to the outer reaches, and those holders get sent upstairs.

    It blows because, among other reasons, it’s the teams that take the brunt of the headaches from their fan base.

  18. Mr. Redlegs

    But the caveat to the flex plan is “availability.” No problem to see the Brewers. Big problem to see the Redbirds on a Saturday.

    Can you only redeem those vouchers on game day at the ticket office? That had been tried. It failed.

    The great thing about the flex plan voucher idea is if you want just one seat, you’re almost guaranteed getting into most any game you desire and with an awesome seat.

    Good sniffing, Bloodhound Chris.

  19. Daedalus

    redlegs, people are getting tired of you insinuating that others are stupid. you were a sportswriter – not a president, not a policymaker, not a soldier, not a professor, not a CEO. the sports fantasy world you live in does not coincide with the real, logistical, working, day-to-day operations of real life, where people think about how to improve things and overcome obstacles rather than just throw their hands up, say “that won’t work,” and give up.

    i hardly think that out of 81 games people are going to have trouble finding 10 to go to. but if they want to see st. louis and they can’t use their vouchers, nothing is stopping them from buying a ticket outside the package. i have a 20 game nats plan, yet i’ve purchased tix to four other games already. in addition, i am allowed to exchange a limited number of tix for other games, so there is some flexibility there. there was an A plan and a B plan, which is not much of a choice, but it was a choice. don’t tell me i don’t know what i’m talking about.

    the point is that doing this and allowing opening day to be part of the package would give the opportunity for more real fans to get tix to opening day, and people like steve wouldn’t have to suffer the disappointment of breaking a long standing family tradition. that was the whole point in the first place.

    thanks, chris, for the info. guess someone already thought of flex plans! i’m really impressed with the variety of ticket packages you have to choose from. the reds must be having plenty of “nightmares.”

  20. Daedalus

    Speaking of Reds treating their fans well, check this out. Someone emailed the Reds about blackouts in Lexington, the Reds contacted Fox, and it looks like they are going to resolve the problem.

    I think we may just have the most fan appreciating front office in baseball.

  21. Mr. Redlegs

    Daedalus, I am a sportswriter and my bosses and my 26 years of intimate experience with the people, stories, history, news events and thematics of sports pretty much says, yeah, I know my field just like the presidents, policymakers, professors, etc. know theirs.

    Again, nothing else was stated or implied by anyone except you. Nor is the comparison relevant to . . . baseball.

  22. Jay

    While I am happy that this fan and his dad got to go to Opening Day, I still HATE the new ticketing system that screws folks like these two and myself out of a chance to go to Opening Day. It’s a 3-hour drive for me, so season tix are out of the question, and the craziness of my job prevents me from getting one of the mini-plans. But I always block out the first week of the season to make a game or two.

    I want to go to Opening Day. I want to take my son to Opening Day and to experience the parade and all. But the new ticketing system is screwing me out of that chance.

    That – and the fact they’ve jacked up the prices as well as combining two sections into one and bumped up that price significantly – has caused me to not be a big fan of the new owners. Sure, they are making strides, but when they hamper my ability to make it to the games, it’s kind of hard to be a fan of them (the owners).