Before this spring, I had been to exactly zero professional soccer events. If I am able to procure tickets to the United game versus Philadelphia at 7 p.m., my attendance numbers will have jumped exponential to two.
I loved seeing the team play David Beckham this spring, enjoyed the fans’ energy coursing through the halls of the dilapidated field, and as I only do when successfully procuring the amazing $10 Nationals tickets, had the rare nortion that I wasn’t getting ripped off. So why is my attendance at Saturday’s game an “if”?
The bulk of the advantages of city living lie in convenience, and that includes access to events like pro sporting events. Whereas when I lived in Silver Spring the most accessible pro sports games were at the Verizon Center, a 15-minute walk to the Metro and 20 minute ride away. Meanwhile, living in the Capitol Hill area puts one within easy striking distance of the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS teams. Where I live now, in Hill East (neighbors with United’s Clyde Simms, no less), is almost as close as one can live to where an MLS team plays.
So naturally, when I decided to buy tickets for United’s July 2 match, I preferred to travel to the stadium box office and avoid $5.30 in convenience charges per ticket (and since I don’t have a printer, the still-present inconvenience of retrieving those conveniently purchased tickets from will call prior to entering).
But when I went to the stadium at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, the day before an important battle with the Eastern Conference leader, there was not one ticket window open.
There were some employees around, and though they tried to be helpful, the conclusion I reached is that I was wasting my time trying to buy tickets on-site. Alas, I must return tomorrow if I both want to join Barra Brava — the heart of United’s energetic fan base — and save $10.
Ticketmaster points me to United for box office hours, D.C. United has this to say: “If you can’t purchase tickets ahead of time, the best way to buy on the day of a match is at RFK Stadium. Ticket windows at the Main Date, Gate A and Gate F open four hours before the start of a match.” So the ticket office is open for a total of 60 hours a year? Why make it difficult for your neighbors to buy tickets? We already have to put up with death-defying fans biking on Independence Avenue, can’t affordable tickets at least be more accessible?
The RFK workers I spoke to while biking frantically (OK, leisurely) around the stadium insisted that a box office was open, but there wasn’t much evidence, either at the stadium or on the Internet, to support that.
That’s not to imply I won’t be attending United’s game on Saturday, but I will maintain that I won’t ever be paying convenience charges when I live a couple thousand feet from the stadium, though the team and Ticketmaster seem to be trying their damnedest to make that happen.