Last night, if you didn’t already know, I attended the Yankees game (I know…you’re shocked). Anyway, last night was also Mariano Rivera bobblehead night. The 4th and final bobblehead giveaway of the season. As was the case for 2 of the 3 previous giveaways, I and a few thousand of my closest friends arrived at the Stadium well before the gates were due to open at 5pm. 5pm came, they didn’t let us in. 5:10, 5:20, 5:30 nothing…still in line and no word from the team as to why we weren’t being let in. I looked on Twitter and found out that the bobbleheads were stuck in New Jersey. Long story short, at 5:45pm they finally let everyone in. However, there wasn’t a bobblehead to be found and we were given a voucher to pick up the bobblehead at a later time.
As someone who has worked in the promotions department for a few teams and also ran logistics for major conferences for three years, my mind naturally began to think about how the Yankees would pull off distributing 18,000 bobbleheads during or after the game. At first I thought, set up a few areas where people can pick them up by the gates as they leave. Then it was announced: Between the bottom of the 3rd and up to 30 minutes after the game, fans with vouchers could pick up their bobbleheads by Gate 2. Wait…18 THOUSAND people to one small area? You’re kidding me right? Nope.
During the 4th inning I decided to check out the situation. The line started back by the left field foul pole, down the 3rd base line, up a ramp, around the upper concourse (grandstand) and then back down. Some people waited in line for an hour and a half, missing more than half of what turned out to be a horrible game for the Yankees, in order to receive their bobbleheads. I waited in this line for about 30 minutes before getting out because I wanted to watch the game.
In the 8th inning my friends and I decided to get back in line so we weren’t at the Stadium until midnight. At this point we left our seats in section 129 (which is right by Gate 2), walked down the left field line, under the bleachers and finally found the end of the line by section 112 which is just past 1st base! All in all, we were in this line for just under an hour.
Also, there were only a handful of Yankees employees handing out the bobbleheads and I won’t even get into how rude some of the staff were to fans. I’m sure you’ve read about that somewhere else.
As the night wore on and I thought about this more, here’s what I would have done. (Not saying this would have been perfect or anything close to that…just an idea):
There’s an area in Yankee Stadium called “The Great Hall” where most fans enter/leave the Stadium through (which is also Gate 6). Since it seemed they closed off sales in the food court area because of the crowd attempting to go to Gate 2, they should have closed off the Great Hall to anyone who did not have a voucher and then set up the hall like a redemption center.
There’s three other gates and multiple areas for fans to leave from (except for fans that needed to use elevators to exit). Why didn’t the team set up tables and use the Great Hall? We’ll never know, but that’s what I would have done if I was running the show over there.
Well, after a horrible game, and a nightmare of an experience, I have my Mariano Rivera bobblehead and he has now joined his friends, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui in my apartment.
UPDATE: Late this afternoon the Yankees sent out a press release announcing that anyone with with tickets for last night’s game will be able to redeem them for any regular season game next season (aside from Opening Day and Old Timers’ Day). Also in the press release was information on how people with bobblehead vouchers can still get a bobblehead.
“The strength of this organization comes from the lifelong relationships we have developed with our fans,” Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost said. “Although a perfect storm of circumstances beyond our control led to the delay in the distribution of last night’s promotional item, the fact remains that our fans were inconvenienced. It matters little why – only that they were. We take last night’s event seriously, and to apologize to our fans and express our loyalty to them, we are inviting all ticket holders from last night’s game back to Yankee Stadium for a complimentary game during the 2014 regular season.”
I am happy that the Yankees are doing what they can to make good on the mess that was last night. Only wish they gave us the bobblehead option last night too. I am going to the game tomorrow and would have rather just walked up and redeemed my voucher then without dealing with the headache of last night. Also, I can only assume that the majority of fans that were at last night’s game are not on social media, not a season ticket holder or know to check the press release section of the Yankees website and will never know about these options.