By Paul M. Banks
Whoever believes America is truly a classless society has never bought tickets to a baseball game. The press box and suites are located next to each other for literal and metaphorical reasons. The best views of the game are on the stadiumâ€™s middle level, so itâ€™s also where the people deemed â€œmost importantâ€ reside. Also, most journalists are born with upper middle/lower upper class backgrounds and usually spend their adult lives within that tier. Press row isnâ€™t inside the sky suites, but right next door. Knowing these truths to be self-evident, I was stunned by my recent U.S. Cellular Field Stadium Club experience. Luckily, the game itself was glorious and thrilling, as early season American League MVP candidate Carlos Quentin drove in all three runs in a victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Quentin hit a walk-off home run in a nationally televised ESPN game, showing America why so many Southside males have a Carlos Quentin man-crush.
I attended the game on Billâ€™s (a business school chum) corporate tickets, including a Stadium Club pass. At the club door they forbid any outside food or beverage, because God forbid you bring food and drink into a bar/restaurant. The first level offers a $35 buffet. When paying more for ballpark food than most people pay for the ticketâ€¦â€œyou are not living the High Life,â€ like the popular commercial says. Upstairs, a server told me that our chosen open table remained closed until 7:30. My cell phone said 7:28. I made a joke about this and she was NOT amused. Then we tried to sit down in a different section with another worker telling us, â€œThere is a $5 charge for any table with glass.â€ Naturally I said, â€œYouâ€™re joking with me! right?â€ The waitress said, â€œIt goes to charity.â€ My real life â€œCurb Your Enthusiasmâ€ episode continued with: drink prices north of $7, entrees starting at $14, a check featuring an already added service charge and a blank space to leave your tip. I asked a couple workers to clarify this and they told me the tip was already figured inâ€¦.and they feel the consumer should tip them again for some reason. (Remember the â€œCurbâ€ episode where Larry gets a bill with the â€œCaptainâ€™s tip?â€ â€œWho was this mysterious captain? I never met any captain?â€)
Considering I attended the game with someone who had juice, (Bill is a director at a Fortune 500 accounting firm) I reasonably expected much more hospitality than this. The fact that the Club retains its popularity is 1.) Absolutely absurd. 2.) Speaks volumes about how inaccurate the class stereotypes surrounding White Sox fans are.