16 May 2006

Now I think I get it

Tonight's post comes from Section 241 (Plaza Reserved), in the upper tier. More noise measurements, though I'm certain the results are getting skewed by the suites that hang over these seats, creating some solid reverb. In any case, here are some results:
  • Typical ambient noise without drums: 72 dB
  • Typical ambient noise with drums: 75 dB
  • Typical batter intro: 83 dB
  • Melhuse grand slam: 102 dB
  • Swisher 2-run bomb: 96 dB
I had recently bought a 12-pack of Diet Pepsi that happened to have those specially marked cans offering Plaza Reserved seats for $5. I figured I needed to get a set of noise measurements from dead center, so here I am. To my surprise, a group was occupying the choice seats, and the ticket guy nearly laughed when I asked for "anywhere in the front-row, sections 240-242."

When I found that my seat had already been taken, I decided to move up a few rows and stretch out. Beneath me in the better seats were a few hundred folks, all in a large group. They all came early and got their oh-so-ironic Big Hurt jerseys, and they were quite an enthusiastic bunch. Many of them went back and forth from the East Side Club, where beer and food were available.

Then it dawned on me: group sales has to be a big reason for the third deck closure. In the past groups were relegated to the BBQ Plazas or Terraces (AN Day), the Skyview Terrace suites, luxury suites, or simply a bunch of seats that were in a contiguous set (Fremont Day). The advantage of these seats over the third deck is the rather lavish staging area immediately behind them, the East Side Club. ESC has been underutilized because of its location and the fact that the A's usually didn't sell those seats except when demand was high. For group sales, it makes a ton of sense because it provides amenities that aren't available anywhere else in the stadium, coupled with inexpensive seats. If you've gone to one of these company gigs, you know that the location doesn't really matter a whole lot - you're not trying to impress clients with a suite or club seats, you're trying to boost morale among your employees.

By closing the third deck, the A's could provide a fairly compelling option that fills a need that new stadia address automatically: the party deck. The group seemed to be having a good time (it doesn't hurt that the A's are up 12-2 going into the 8th inning). It will certainly help their marketing operations, since they'll have a decent gauge of how well they sell to small, medium, and large groups. Busch Stadium and Petco Park have capitalized on this by building in such accommodations. At Busch, the Cards elected to build fewer luxury suites and more party suties to cater to groups. At Petco, an entire floor of the Western Metal Supply building can be rented, or it can be split into two or three suites.

You may remember this rendering from a few months ago:

In both the LF and RF corners, below the luxury suites, are what have to be party suites. Why put those there? If you were here tonight, you'd see why: the upper tier of Field Level sections 101-103 and 131-133 are completely empty. Just as apartment buildings get converted to condos, it makes sense to convert these seats into a more sellable space. Such is the nature of a party suite or deck.