Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The MLS in a Nutshell

Yesterday was a big day for me; I purchased season tickets to a professional sports team for the first time in my life. The tickets were for my home-town MLS team, the New England Revolution. The very act of buying the tickets was almost an epitome of everything, good and bad, about being a fan of an MLS team in America.

I have a good friend who enjoys football as I do, and together we decided to get season tickets last year. We were going about our business quite leisurely when the Beckham signing was announced, and thus we decided to get our tickets last week.

I first called the Revolution’s home stadium on Saturday, but I discovered that the team did not open the box office on weekends. Curious, I thought, but in many ways the MLS is a mom-and-pop league, so I decided to wait until the following Monday, since I was home from work because of the MLK holiday.

It turns out the box office would have been closed Monday, as well, because of the holiday, but when I called a New England Revolution representative told me I could come to the stadium, since the co-tenants of the stadium, the New England Patriots, had won a playoff game the night before lots of people would be around.

So my buddy and I went to Foxboro Stadium, co-home of the Revs and Pats. It was actually pretty fun to be there since the (American) football team had one such a big game the night before. First we went to the box office, which in spite of what the person on the phone had told me, was completely closed. We then proceeded to the “clubhouse shop” where there were lots of people buying Patriots gear. We were sad to see there was virtually no Revs stuff for sale at the gift shop of their own stadium, but it was American football season. We ended up talking to a manager in the gift shop, and she directed us to a doorbell we could ring that would get the attention of the one person working in the ticket office. We trudged back to the ticket both and caught the attention of a young man who indeed was an employee. He seemed almost startled by our request to purchase season tickets and had no idea how to conduct such a transaction. Finally he told us to get in out car and drive around the huge stadium to the administrative offices, and that someone should be able to help us there.

So we drove around the big, 60,000+ seat stadium and walked into the administrative offices, surrounded by memorabilia and trophies from the highly successful recent run of Patriots teams. After hanging out in the plush offices for a few minutes a nice man who worked for the Revs came out and signed us up for two good seats right above the corner-kick spot.

So how does this little trip epitomize the MLS? Well, the MLS is just a small operation run by pretty nice people. Sometimes it gets swallowed up by its bigger American sports cousins, and sometimes things run in the MLS as if it were designed by Don Knotts circa The Andy Griffith Show. Still, eventually the basic goodness of the people working in the MLS outshines the sometimes lax manner in which things are run (and really, it probably should be easier to buy season tickets) so now I feel like a valued member of the New England Revolution family.

And I am looking forward to the season.

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