Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sincerely, George McCaskey, Senior Director of Ticket Operations

Yesterday I received a very strange piece of correspondence from the Chicago Bears.

Before we get to the letter, a little background.

I have been a season ticket holder of the Chicago Bears for well over ten years now. Out of all of those years I have seen a total of two (2) playoff games, both humiliating defeats. I have been rained on, snowed on, sleeted on, frozen, baked and sunburned. The old Soldier Field was literally the very worst venue in all of professional sports. I will admit the new Soldier Field is a vast improvement, but you still cannot go to the bathroom after the first quarter or before the onset of the fourth quarter. Well you can, but you will miss major portions of the game.

I blog, bitch and gripe about the awful job they did on the traffic patterns around the new Soldier Field (if it is possible, it is WORSE than before). Everything done is about one thing - making money, the fans be damned. I suppose it has been that way forever, but now I am just noticing it more.

But I still like going, socializing, having a few beers and relaxing outside before and after the game. And nobody is holding a gun to my head to make me go.

When the Bears were renovating Soldier Field, I knew the time was coming for me to draw my "line in the sand", so to say. That line is at a PSL or Personal Seat License. For those not in the know, a PSL is a one time fee you pay for the right to purchase tickets for that seat. In other words, for certain seats, you may not purchase season tickets for them unless you first pay the PSL. In the good seats at Soldier Field, the PSL's are $10 thousand each. For the lame seats in the upper and lower end zones, the prices were not as steep, only $750 to $1500 each. Those numbers may not be exact, but they are fairly accurate. However, some end zone sections and the entire upper deck on the west side are not PSL sections, they are more traditional sections where you simply pay the ticket price for the ticket and come on in. The PSL can be bought and sold on any open market, or transferred in a will or by other means.

I had really crappy seats at the old Soldier Field. I vowed that if I got a letter from the Bears saying I had to buy a PSL that I would simply shitcan it and they would never hear from me again. But I didn't. I got a pair of seats on the aisle, right on the north endzone. The seats are 5,464,387 feet up, but I was in. In a few years I applied for another pair and got those. You have to remember the waiting list was very small for Bears season tickets - the wait for my first pair was 8 years, the second pair only 2 years. So now I am the proud owner of four season tickets. It is fun to get four guys together and go down there and tailgate and enjoy the day down by the lake.

I have to think that there are thousands of fans like me that simply were NOT going to pay that PSL fee. And so now I get this bizarre letter from George H. McCaskey, Senior Director of Ticket Operations. OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH the ticket guy...

Dear Season Ticket Holder:

This letter is being sent to you because you have
non-Permanent Seat License (non-PSL) seats assigned to your season ticket

As you know, only PSL seats are transferable. Since the "new" Soldier Field opened three years ago, many non-PSL season ticket holders have contacted us, inquiring about making an exception to the rule. Because PSL purchasers were promised that only PSL seats would be transferable, we have not been able to make such exceptions.

Now we are offering all non-PSL Season Ticket Holders the opportunity to buy PSLs for their seats, so that they may be transferred, just as the original PSL seats may be transferred. We're calling them "Seat-specific PSLs" because, unlike an original PSL purchaser, you have had the advantage of actually sitting in the seats in game conditions before deciding whether you want to buy PSLs for them.

You may wish to purchase Seat-specific PSLs to make sure the seats remain in the family, to put them in the name of your business, or to sell them to whomever you wish on the secondary market. Seat-specific PSLs make that possible.

YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BUY SEAT-SPICIFIC PSLs. If you do not wish to purchase PSLs for your seats, your seat location will not change. You may continue to enjoy Bears games from the very same seats you've had in the new Soldier Field for as long as you wish, provided you meet payment deadlines and you and your guests obey stadium rules and regulations.

The enclosed question-and-answer sheet and application contain the pricing information, payment schedules, and other information for the purchase of Seat-specific PSLs. Of course if you have other questions, please feel free to call one of our Customer Service Representatives at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

Thank you for your consideration and Go Bears!


George H. McCaskey
Senior Director of Ticket Operations

Honest to god I had to read this letter about twenty times before I could understand why it was in my hands.

If you have ever sat in that west upper deck for a Bear game, you will quickly come to the realization that you are not at a board meeting of Boeing or GE. There are a lot of rabid football fans, mostly just normal guys trying to blow off some steam, and the majority are intoxicated to the gills. Not that being intoxicated at a football game is a bad thing.

It is just that I find it borderline ridiculous that they are trying to sell PSLs to people who are intentionally sitting in the crap seats to ESCAPE THE PSL. I would think they will sell approximately five (5) of these. The price you ask? Affordable?

For the seats that I own, one pair would cost me TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS PER SEAT and the other pair would be ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER SEAT. For those mathematically challenged that is a total of SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS. Who in hell is going to do this?

So is this just some type of gimmick for the Bears to try to make more money? Do they regret the fact that the west upper deck was not PSL to start with? Is this the first step in making the entire stadium PSL? I think it is a combination of all three.

The letter has some interesting clues if you think about it.

As always, the team (any pro sports team) is pissed because scalpers are making money off the tickets.

"...sell them to whomever you wish on the secondary market."
Oh, it is so very difficult to sell tickets on the "secondary" market. Have the Bears ever heard of eBay? Why do they never do anything about all of the black guys surrounding Soldier Field on gameday buying and selling tickets? It is the same old tired b.s. about how we can't resell the game tickets.

What is so hard about transferring ownership of non-PSL seats anyway? Your kids just keep paying the invoice and nobody cares. It is widely known that if you look at the season ticket rolls at Lambeau Field for instance the average age of the ticket holders is approximately 142.

So what advantage do I possibly have by giving the Bears SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS? What do I gain from this transaction? Can somebody please tell me? I am dying to know.

My thoughts are that this is the first step to introducing the acronym PSL to the fans in the west upper deck. I bet within 5 years they will want PSL fees from everyone. But they promised us they wouldn't.

And that will be the day I stop going to Bears games.


Carl from Chicago said...

The logic behind this letter is so twisted it is almost Orwellian...

GQ said...

Hmmm are they still doing this it seems shady, and this guy's scheduled to run the team right?

Dan from Madison said...

I haven't received anything on the subject since this post a very long time ago. After Virginia dies, I am sure there will be a fight between the family and other board members as to who gets the team. Most of us Bear fans are praying for an outright sale to an outside party to get the team back on track. What we have now is total chaos.