Fan Free Agency – Why Not?

Albert Pujols has just inked a deal for a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s BILLION with a “B”. Major League Baseball ownerships are making money hand over fist. Millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars are being invested in stadiums. In the world of Major League Baseball, business is good.

But how has this left the fans. The realignment of major league baseball has caused a riff from a former fan of the Houston Astros. This fan, a supporter of the National League and a student of the game who does not believe in the designated hitter has decided to announce his “fan free agency.”

I love this idea. As fans we are constantly at the whim and bend of our team. However, hundreds of dollars each year are spent on stadiums, tickets, concessions, gear, and other ballpark novelties. When our teams make decisions that have a clear negative impact on us as fans, why not move forward and announce your free agency?

Obviously as fans we should not expect multimillion dollar payments to us as a consumer, but why not negotiate for our “fandom” through the following means:

Improve our Seats: Make the promise to fans that if the team in below five hundred at the trading deadline, and the stadium is less than 50% full, that as fans we can move to the lower bowl of the stadium at no additional charge. I am not asking for Diamond level or even club seats, but a nice 22nd row seat along the right field line, instead of the nosebleed seat that is left littered with oxygen tanks by fans that have made the trek to the summit of the stadium. Imagine how this could improve the fan experience in places like Florida, Oakland, or Kansas City.

Promise me Memories: This is the curse of being a Reds fan. My entire life, my team will have to live up to the grit and determination of the Big Red Machine. As a fan, I am asking that a couple of times each season you bring back one of the members of this team and have them throw out an opening pitch, sign a few autographs, and take a picture. I am not asking for one of the big boys every week (Rose, Bench, Morgan, etc…) I am thrilled with a Don Gullett or Bill Plummer.

A Cheap Shirt or Hat: Alright, I spent by $50 to get into the ballpark, I have splurged for some ballpark food costing me an addition $25 at best for my family of four. I have two kids with me and they want a souvenir. I want a $10 souvenir that my kid can wear, and a ball park pin is not going to do it. I want a hat or t-shirt for $10… no more… no matter what. I want it available at all souvenir stands in the stadium and online. I am a working man and need to keep my total ballpark cost under $100.

Give the Ball to a Kid: Each time an inning is complete, I want to see the baseball go to a kid in the stadium. To a kid, this ball might as well be a solid piece of gold. To this day, I have the Barry Larkin foul ball displayed in my home that I caught when I was eight years old. It is a small price to pay to make a great memory for a kid.

A Diamond Encrusted Team Jacket: Alright, this might be a little expensive for the team, but hey, this is a negotiation. We can come to an agreement…. I might except rhinestones encrusted…

None of my demands would cost an organization a great deal of money. In fact, teams would get a greater return investment from me as a fan. I will continue to buy tickets to the games; I will watch them supporting their television contract, I will buy their products. These seem like reasonable demands for what you are getting in return.

James Roy is a lifelong fan of Cincinnati Sports. He spends his summers roaming from ballpark to ballpark watching and supporting Major League and Minor League Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @jimmy_roy.


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