Saturday, August 18, 2007

Game day

Another NFL season has arrived across the country and in Buffalo. And that means one thing -- everyone is walking on eggshells about talking about the experience of going to a game. But there are two basic facts about games that are never mentioned, one of which applies to the whole league, the other just Buffalo, perhaps because the city's hold on an NFL team is a little tenuous.

1. It's an old complaint. How long have exhibition games featured fully priced tickets, as if the games count? Forever? Well, maybe the 1970's or so. Does that make it any better? No. The players and coaches are scared to death of getting someone hurt, so the starters play as little as possible. The only exception is the third preseason game, which is something of a tune-up for more than a half. Otherwise, it's filled with players who soon could be joining you in the stands of NFL games, rather than suiting up. Great value, eh?

At least the Bills designate one preseason game as "Kids Day" and charge $10 a pop for them. Better that than empty seats. Otherwise, you could pay about $72 for a great seat to the game -- a game in which no one remembers the final score after Tuesday.

2. Cars are charged $15 to park at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Ever wonder where that money goes?
Once you get in the gates, you are on your own. There is no one directing traffic. The lines of cars aren't exactly even, which can lead to inefficiency in the form of wasted space.

More important, security isn't exactly everywhere. All right, it's virtually nowhere. The times I went last season, it wasn't exactly an atmosphere for children, unless you like your chlidren to watch people be carried upside down and forced to drink beer out of a keg. Then there's the matter of broken glass was scattered about the grounds by the time I left. I felt lucky the tires were OK by the time I reached the parking lot.

I'm no prude; I don't mind people have a good time and tailgating. But I wonder how many potential customers get lost along the way after going once.