For so long, questioning anything to do with the Left Field Lounge would be seen as heresy. But over the last few years a few things have happened that have caused MSU baseball fans to wonder if changes need to be made to improve the atmosphere at Dudy Noble.
Perhaps the first thing was LSU building arguably the best college baseball stadium in the country. Now, they are crushing everyone in attendance, averaging over 10K per game. Another thing is Ole Miss’ atmosphere being considered better than State’s – and their attendance is higher. And after three straight losing seasons from ’08-’10, it’s doesn’t seem as though things haven’t gotten back to what we were used to before the fall.
So what can be done to improve things? It’s not like attendance is bad – MSU is still in the top 10 around the country – but we’ve always been on top, so how do we get back?
I’ll go ahead and tell you, I haven’t been able to attend a game this year. I live two states away and it just hasn’t happened for one reason or another. But I went to State for five years – graduating in 2007 – and I attended at least 15-20 games per year while I was in school. And I’ve been back a few times since.
The left field lounge is the crux of the problem. The main reason is because it seems like an exclusive club. Visitors (broadcasters) always rave about how nice everyone is, offering food to them and the outfielders. That is true, and I think the fans who have a set up out there are very willing to include most visitors. But the average person certainly isn’t going to walk onto someone’s truck/trailer/deck/porch asking for food and joining the conversation without previous acquaintance.
While I was in school, there were several times when I went with someone who knew someone out there, or I was invited by a classmate, etc. so I joined the party a few times. But I didn’t have any close friends out there so I didn’t feel like I should crash their party every game just because I had one conversation with them in Psychology class. All this to say I understand how many folks can feel left out.
I also think the left field lounge crowd should be able to keep what they have because a lot of them are loyal fans who show up every week to grill out and watch the game. Plus it’s an awesome tradition and one that makes Dudy Noble extremely unique. To determine who gets to have these spots, I might suggest a point system. Let’s say you have to donate $500 to the baseball program and you get 100 points. Then, for every game you (or someone else) is not at your lounge spot, 5 points is deducted. If you slip below 50 points in one year or your three year average is less than 75 points then you are not eligible to renew your spot the next year.
What I might suggest is creating the same area in right field just for the students. I know when I was in college and I went to the “left field lounge”, it was really in right field because that’s where the students were. But most of those contraptions were owned by specific fraternities. If you weren’t in the frat, or knew someone who was going to be out there – out of luck. They should take my proposed $500 donated by each member of the left field lounge crowd to build an area for students to enjoy….first come first serve.
The next thing would be the bleachers/chair backs. It’s pretty silly for folks to have to sit in the bleachers when the chairbacks are 30% full. Especially when there are so many bleacher seats that are bad seats. Not only can you not see, but you are uncomfortable as you roast in the sun. My first suggestion would be to let fans go to the chair-backs sooner – maybe after the 1st inning. If a ticket-holder arrives late, then you just have to move. But most of the time they don’t show up so it wouldn’t matter.
If that won’t work, how about a ticket exchange? With all the technology we have, how can we not set up a system to where – up to 10 minutes before the game starts – season ticket holders can notify the ticket office that they will not be attending the game, and a walk-up fan may purchase the ticket. Let’s say that a particular season-ticket holder paid $15 for that seat, then sell it to a walk-up for $15. And as a fee for handling the transaction, the MSU athletic department can keep $5 and give $10 back to the season-ticket holder.
I don’t think people need to be louder or anything – it’s baseball. Just need the numbers. The more people that show up the more exciting it is. Some of it is winning, but it wouldn’t hurt to include some changes to the current set up. It’s not really a huge problem, but as always – just looking to improve.