By Corey R. Cunningham
I attended my first ever AAA game this past night at Fort Hill, South Carolina with the home team The Charlotte Knights, taking on the visiting team Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Traffic was heavy heading south to the stadium, however, I made it in plenty of time, in fact early enough not to have to pay the parking fee of $4.00.
I made my way up to the ticket booth, and believe it or not, the General Admission tickets were just $9.00 for a AAA team and that is compared to a $9.00 ticket for Low-A baseball at the great Municipal Stadium, and for those of you who do not know, that is Low-A baseball.
I purchased a ticket, and waited around for an hour or so, snapping pictures and taking in the moments of my first trip to a AAA ballpark and probably my last trip to this stadium as the Knights are building a brand new stadium coming next year to down town Charlotte.
I was seeking autographs from Lehigh Valley players Dominci Brown, and Scott Elarton as well as the Iron Pigs manager Ryne Sandberg. However, I was not the only person seeking Sandberg's signature. I was not aware until 5:30 pm that their was 2 games during this day, one a make up game starting at the top of the 4th inning, and then another game consisting of 7 innings. The problem; game time for the resume of a rainout game in Lehigh started at 6:15pm, however, the gates were not opened until 6:00pm, yes that's only 15 minutes.
I made my way to the visitor's dugout along with a handful of other people in hopes to grab an autograph or two. A player who I cannot name came out of the Pigs dugout, and as he was walking by a lady asks him, "where is Ryne?", the player replies, "in the dugout, he only signs an hour before game time." The lady replies, "um, the gates just opened up 15 minutes before game time!" My thoughts at the time, and I was also proud of the lady for standing her ground. She asks the player, " you think he will sign during the intermission or after the game?", player replies with, "I doubt it", with a shoulder shrug.
I made the problem aware to an usher, and to a media guy with the knights about having the gates open 15 min prior to game time, he replied with, "come tomorrow". I thought to myself, the nerve this guy has. I know for a fact where I am from 25% of income of ticket sales comes from autographers, and 'we' are always the first ones in and the last ones out.
I am sad to say, I had a horrible experience with the Knights, and more than likely I will be emailing them and letting them know my displeasure with how they handle themselves during this situation. Let it be known, I was not the only person unhappy with the decision of the Charlotte Knights. Lehigh won game 1 5-4, and needless to say after a brief intermission and still no one signing, I left just after first pitch of the second game.