The life of the Series del Caribe is dependent on the pulse of the fans who support it. While there are many rabid fans that attend the game, the high ticket prices and the lack of stars that participate in the event discourage the casual fan from attending. Ticket prices were reasonable for United States standards, but in the economically challenged Dominican Republic only the elite can attend. The opening rounds between the two teams had a number of empty seats, so it was far from a sellout
It took an hour and half to wait in line to get a ticket. Unfortunately, the ticket they gave me was for Saturday even though I asked for today’s game. It appeared that someone was going to take me back to the ticket booth to exchange it, but since I will be attending Saturday’s game I decided to keep it. I waited in line for another hour and a half to buy a ticket to today’s game and missed the first four innings of the opening game. For some reason I think I should get a refund on the amount of game I missed.
They have five ticket booths available to buy tickets, but one of those, the shortest line is for reserved tickets. They also have a number of people that stand in line with no intention of buying a ticket. A friend then recruits from the crowd waiting farther back in line and for 300 pesos you can get this person’s place in line that has no intention of buying a ticket. They asked if I wanted to move up but it just doesn’t seem right. If a person shows up late they should wait at the end of the line and not be privleged to move in front of other people just because they are willing to pay someone 300 pesos to wait in line for them. I guess that is capitalism at its best.
The crowd at the stadium seemed to fill many of the expensive seats, but most of the less expensive seats were pretty empty. This tells me that there are some rabid baseball fans in the Dominican and they have the money to buy the better seats. The cheaper $20 seats, which are actually $40 is still too much for many Dominicans to pay to watch the game.
As I said, the cost of a ticket can be let’s say $20, the third cheapest ticket on the map ($10, and $5 are chaper). When you buy your ticket for that day you have to pay $40. They force you to pay for the second game. So the ticket you buy is for two games at $20 each for $40. After you leave the first game you will be mobbed by people looking for you to give your ticket to them so they can watch the second game. If you plan things right and you know a fan from another team, you can share the ticket with them. They can see Puerto Rico for the day game while you can see Dominican Republic for the night game. This wouldn’t work too good when Puerto Rico plays Dominican.
There was a credit card machine for one of the ticket lines but it wasn’t working. There was also an ATM inside the stadium, but it wasn’t working as well. So if you didn’t have a lot of cash you couldn’t buy a ticket. Fortunately, they fixed the ATM, which allowed people to get cash. To show how honest the people are that attend the game, a person I met at the game left her credit card in the machine and the fans chased her down to give it to her. There are many that would have taken that credit card and then tried to use it to buy a uniform jersey at one of the Licey or Escogido stores.
After the first game ended there was the opening ceremonies. It was interesting that they introduced some pretty good players who were there for the Series del Caribe. Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Octavio Dotel, Neftali Feliz, Rafael Furcal, Esteban German and Alexi Ogando were all in the stadium. Unfortunately, for Dominican fans, they were dressed in civilan clothes even though they are at the peaks of their careers. Instead of those introduced, the Dominican fans had to settle for Jose Constanza, Mauro Gomez, Andy Dirks and Pedro Florimon in their lineup. No wonder many of the fans are not willing to pay major league prices for AA players.
The halftime show was quite colorful. They had three giant dragon like bugs parade onto the outfield and many colorful characters that you would only see at a circus. Purple seemed to be the color of choice. There were characters with horseshoed heads, large snouts, whips and swords and lots of horned creatures and beautiful half clothed dancers with peacock headdresses. A recommendation to some of those elaboratly dressed characters, try to keep your mask on until you walk past the outfield fence. The show may be over as you are walking off the field and those masks have to be pretty hot to wear, but it is so unprofessional to see you carry your used to be horseshoe shaped head in your hands while you are still in the infield.
The game was supposed to start at 7 PM, but the halftime show started late and didn’t end until about 8:30. It was an interesting crowd to watch with a number of woman in stilleto heels and balloons for breasts. Some of those balloons seemed to be exploding out of their shirts.
Rufo seems to be a very popular mascot. He is a lion mascot and does the splits and the moon dance as far as entertainment. The crowd seems to love it. There are also lots of security guards and their primary responsibility seems to be making sure that your feet are not resting on the top of the seat back in front of you. Since the seats in front of me were all empty I was busted twice.
The games were competetive and the crowd was noisy. But there were less people for the opening game than there were two years ago when I watched Licey play Aguilas in a regular season game. Those tickets were not as expensive and Licey is the more popular team in Santo Domingo. There are not nearly as many Escogido fans in Santo Domingo. It is like NBC getting the Tampa Bay Rays for their World Series team when they would have preferred the New York Yankees.
A game recap will be on a separate post.