Monday, March 28, 2005

Called Strike

News about bad UX travels fast.

Meet Irving Zeiger, age 86. He's had the same front row seats at Dodger Stadium for 43 years—the same seats since the stadium opened in 1962.

Not any more. Let the gifted Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times tell you about the phone call Irving recently received from the Dodgers:
The Dodgers had moved the dugout closer to the field and installed four new rows of seats behind it. But Zeiger need not worry, he could retain his four stadium-best seats directly above the new dugout.

It would cost him only $120,000.

You read that right.

It would cost him only $120,000.

Irv Zeiger has cheered for Koufax, screamed for Gibson, pumped his fist for Piazza.

But no Dodger has ever blown him away like that woman on the phone.

"I thought she was joking," he said. "She wanted $120,000 from me to keep those seats I've had for half my life?"

Zeiger was scheduled to pay $20,000 for his four seats, so the new figure constituted a 500% increase.

To move up four rows.
Here's a man who has spent untold tens of thousands of dollars on the Dodgers. He has eaten thousands of Dodger Dogs, shared his four seats with family and friends for more than four decades. His was the first check for the Los Angeles Dodgers that Brooklyn Dodger owner Walter O'Malley received. He has been an exemplary paying Dodger fan for half of his life.

You know what the Dodgers should have done, don't you? They should have given Irv those new front row seats for the same price as his originals—and kept that arrangement in place for life.

Yet the Dodgers (under the penny-pinching new ownership of Frank McCourt) reward him by "offering" the equivalent new seats at five times the cost of his old ones. Irv is going to keep his old seats—but he's going to protest by not attending opening day. He loves baseball, so what else can he do? Plaschke concludes:
To [Zeiger], it's not that his seats are no longer special, although they aren't, what with a wall and waitresses and four rich rows now separating him from the field his money helped build.
To him, it's the organization that is no longer special.

"I just don't feel like the Dodgers are my team anymore," Zeiger said. "I doubt that they are even L.A.'s team anymore. It's no longer about a relationship. It's about a business."
Under the O'Malley's, the Dodgers were UXCentric to the core—more accurately, they were fancentric and definitely ahead of their time. And the fans like Irving rewarded them with record-breaking attendance and diehard loyalty. That's the power of UXCentricity.

And apparently it's something the current Dodger owners think they can do without.

(Photo by Gary Friedman, LATimes.)


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