This past summer I interned for kivvit, a public affairs company, in New Jersey. One of the many perks of the job was seeing the Mets play on Aug. 10, 2016. Each member of the firm was given a ticket prior to the game but details were relatively vague. Expecting to see the game from the nosebleeds, I nearly fainted when I saw the words “Club Access” printed in bold letters on the front of my ticket. Upon entering, and after a cursory check of my identification, I was given access to an open bar and a buffet, which featured decadent entrees like mango-glazed salmon. I had never experienced anything like this in my life; the closest I had ever come to luxury at a sports game was sitting atop the chairs in the back row of a Montreal Canadiens game. The seats were slightly above the bottom section of the stadium but extremely close to home plate; the view was so clear that I was even able to make out the faces of the athletes.
I instantly realized that you can't compare the club access experience to sitting in general admission. The entire atmosphere is different with a focus more on socialization and luxury over the game itself. I found that most people from my section spent more time inside at the bar, giving cursory glances at the game on the screen, instead of being outside and invested in the action. I found myself guilty of this and didn’t even notice Arizona had scored until the fifth inning. Never in my life have I been so disinterested in a match right in front of me. It was clear to me that many of my coworkers, despite being lifelong New York and New Jersey residents, were generally not baseball fans, which definitely factored into the apathetic ambience.
As for the game itself, the Mets were playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks. I checked the lineup earlier in the day and was ecstatic to find that Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon was pitching. He was a joy to watch. The crowd went wild every time Colon stepped up to the plate in hope that he would hit his second homerun of the season. The game itself went scoreless for the first two innings until the Diamondbacks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. The slow pace continued until the 8th when Arizona furthered their lead to 2-0. In the 9th, Kelley Johnson of the Mets brought some life into the stadium with a two-run homer that evened the score. Unfortunately, the Mets were unable to make anything substantial out of this momentum and the Diamondbacks clinched the game in extra innings.
On the ride home, I had a few realizations. When you see a game in the nosebleed section, you pay attention to the game more intensely. Everything that occurs on the field is subject to overreaction and participation: Even as someone who is relatively restrained, I can’t help but stand and yell when I’m a few hundred feet away from any action—the atmosphere is infectious. However, at the Mets game, I didn’t watch more than 3 plays. I spent half my time eating, drinking, and relaxing with friends. The game itself was almost an afterthought compared to the socializing. I know that given the opportunity to do it again, I would go back in a heartbeat; however, I can’t say for certain if it is a better experience than general admission. The two experiences are so vastly different they can scarcely be compared.