I had the opportunity to roll over to Atlanta for Opening Day for the Braves against the Milwaukee Brewers. While I did a lot more game watching than operations observing, I did pick up on a couple things that could use some work.
First, opening day at Turner Field was a sellout, so the team should know to open and staff as many gates as are available – if you expect a capacity crowd, use capacity manpower. Well, that didn’t exactly happen.
It isn’t a stretch to say that we were waiting in line for 10-15 minutes, just to get into the stadium. There are a couple of reasons why the wait was this long.
There were two lines feeding this gate (my line, and a mirror image of this line on the other end of the sidewalk). Each line had a ticket scanner and a bag checker. While there weren’t many folks bringing bags into the stadium, patrons with and without bags were put into the same line. Every time someone was held up by the bag inspector, it held up the rest of the line and caused delays for those who would not otherwise experience delays.
Many teams have separated patrons with bags from patrons without bags at stadium gates so more folks get into the stadium faster with less trouble. Instead every customer entering the gates is potentially delayed unnecessarily, depending on how many bag-toting customers precede them.
It also certainly didn’t help that there were unstaffed gates.
If two gates are open and staffed, then (ideally) a patron will wait in line half as long. More time in the stadium = more time exposed to advertising and concessions. Will the extra ad visibility time and concessions time make up for the staffing needed for an extra gate? More than likely.
Second, there were a few technical issues with the digital information boards within the stadium. This is somewhat expected for opening nights, especially with minor league teams, but not at the major league level.
It might not be easy to spot for a non-baseball fan, but the image on the Jumbotron is of Michael Bourn, not Martin Prado. There were a couple of these glitches throughout the game.
Every so often, when these glitches would occur the operations team would cut off the feed to the Jumbotron so errors could be fixed. In addition, the out-of-town scoreboard above the left field stands wasn’t updating until after the 5th inning and the radar gun readout telling patrons what speed the pitcher last threw wasn’t operational either.
I’m not sure what the Braves did prior to opening day, but if they didn’t include a “dress rehearsal” of these operations they should have. It’s best for the teams to have the glitches worked out when fans aren’t in their seats as opposed to having them seen by everybody on opening day.
(Of course, that means I would have less fodder for blogging.)