Pomp, circumstance -- and empty seats.
Over the last two years, sports fans in the New York area have grown accustomed to those three things coming together as teams open lavish new stadiums to a public that's less than enthused to fork over huge chunks of their money for the right to spend even more of their money on beer, t-shirts and other goodies at the stadiums.
As mentioned in Sunday's wrap of their win, the Giants played to more than 5,000 empty seats on Sunday. Even though we knew that there were tickets on sale for the game, it boggles the mind that the Giants were unable to find enough people who cared enough to spend some dough on a chance to see them play a game. Not just the first game of a new season and the first game in a new stadium, mind you, but any game whatsoever.
For years, the Giants had hundreds of thousands of people on their waiting list for the chance to buy season tickets and never ever even offered the chance to buy individual game tickets. Now they do and they can't even sell them which lumps them in with the Jets, Mets and Yankees as teams that have somehow found a way to set prices that offend people who don't blink about paying more for just about every item under the sun than people in the rest of the country.
As Gary Myers of the Daily News points out, the sections of unsold seats at the new stadium don't show up on TV which gives the Giants and, presumably, the Jets a leg up on the Yankees and Mets when it comes to PR nightmares. In the stadium, though, the empty seats stick out like sore thumbs.
"It's heartbreaking," running back Brandon Jacobs said of seeing the empty seats.
If the Giants are going to continue to pay tribute to the memories of the people who died on September 11th, they should probably hold a little seminar for their players on the meaning of words like heartbreaking. As painful as it might be for the Maras and Tischs to admit it, not selling a bunch of overpriced seats simply doesn't qualify.
It's clear that we're looking at a sea change in the way that the public consumes sports. We had already reached a point where staying at home with HDTV and the internet makes the argument for spending money on tickets a hard one to make, but now it is impossible in the face of PSLs and insane markups on the seats that might actually show you a better view of the game than the one you get on the couch. Throw in the growth of the secondary market and it's a shocker that there are still people who think it makes sense to buy season tickets at all.
Lest anyone think that better days are around the corner if the Giants and Jets win some games, we point out that the Yankees are still playing host to a lot of patrons dressed like empty blue chairs in the prime locations of the stadium. This is the new reality and all the local teams are going to feel the effects.