Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New game on the trip! Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins on January 31st!

As dedicated readers know, I'm off on a 17-day, 16-event trip from this Thursday. The last day of the trip is January 31st, where I planned to spend the day in Atlanta just chilling after what promises to be a tiring journey. The WWE is holding their Royal Rumble in Phillips Arena that day, so I was considering going to that event just for the experience.

But then I got a mail from my sports road tripping buddy Gary. Living in New York, Gary sees well over 300 sporting events a year and travels across the USA regularly. He's always been helpful when I'm in NYC with advice and tickets. Every year, Gary sends his 2010 schedule to all his friends. I checked and saw that he would be in Pittsburgh that day to see the Stanley Cup rematch between the Red Wings and Penguins. This is the last season for Mellon Arena, affectionately known as the Igloo. I had never visited Pittsburgh in the winter and had yet to see this unique venue. Gee, I wish I could go too.

So I checked the schedule - it was an afternoon game at 3 pm to be shown on NBC. Then I checked the flights. Plenty of direct flights from Atlanta on Delta or AirTran with the last flight leaving at 7:30. Checked TicketMaster, and there were single tickets available. The main concern was my return flight to Japan from Atlanta - it left at 11:00 am on February 1st, so there was no room for error. With the winter weather always unpredictable, it was a bit of a risk. But after mulling it over for a couple of days, I decided to go for it!

I booked the flight on AirTran, leaving Atlanta Sunday morning and arriving before noon. A bus down to the arena, where I hope to meet up with Gary and Mike for lunch, followed by a great game. I figure I have to leave by 5:30 to make it back to the airport for the 7:30 flight, so expect the game to go to overtime which I'll have to miss.

Getting the Game Ticket

The next step was getting the game ticket. Despite my intense dislike of TicketMaster, they were the best option in this case. It was too risky to go to the venue without a ticket given that I was flying there only for that game, and this is a premium event, so other ticketing services were out of my price range. So I swallowed my pride and went to their website. After searching all the seating areas, I settled on a single ticket in section B6 at the blue line. It wasn't cheap, but it would be close to the action.

So I dutifully filled out the payment and address details, only to be stymied by TicketMaster's ridiculously limited delivery options for those with Canadian billing addresses. Rather than offering the will call or TicketFast option (that allows you to print your tickets at home), if you are Canadian and ordering an event in the States, you must have the tickets delivered by standard mail. As someone who is usually on the road when I am watching these games, this single option is useless for me.

After fuming for a few seconds, I decided to call their 1-800 number. They've now an automated system that you speak to. It worked pretty well, I was able to locate the same ticket within 5 minutes. But again, there was only the mail option available. I asked to speak to an operator, and after a few tries, the nice computer understood me. After a few minutes on hold I was talking to a real person! It's amazing what they can do these days.

I asked the guy if they can do Will Call for Canadians and he went off to check. After two more minutes on hold, he came back to say that they could, in fact, allow me to pick up the tickets at the box office on game day. Wow! What an advancement. So I gave my details to him and after everything was confirmed, I had my ticket. Or so I thought. I went to get a pen to write down my order confirmation number, and the phone cord bounced off the hook, ending the call. I am such an idiot.

But I called back and was relieved to find that my order was completed, and just cause I didn't have the number wouldn't cancel the order. So all's OK and my intense hatred of TicketMaster has been reduced to a profound dislike, as their representatives were friendly and capable. But please, TicketMaster, give us Canadians more options on US tickets!

So I'm set for a busy final day on the trip. It will be a memorable experience and a fitting way to finish as I'll finally get to add the Igloo to my list of visited venues. I can hardly wait!



1 comment:

  1. Sean,

    I'm so happy you added this game to your trip. It will be the "icing" on the cake!
    I'm looking forward to seeing you again.

    Yours truly,

    Gary Herman