USA Today gets into sports-event ticket business


I think fans everywhere agree that there are a huge number of sporting events that they would be interested in attending, at least once in their life, but finding out how to apply for tickets much less working your way through the red tape will always be an impediment.

Now leaping to the (possible) rescue is USA Today Sports Media Group which has teamed with QuintEvents to launch a joint venture called USA Today Sports Events that promises access to the biggest sports events.

The effort seeks to establish USA Today Sports as the go-to site for fans looking for tickets and packages to events such as the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby and the NBA All-Star game, among others.

It does not just offer tickets but much more in some cases such as access to players and coaches, the ability to walk a field or arena prior to an event, hospitality tent and parties access, and other amenities. The packages it offers are not third-party ones that cobble together hotels, seats and transportation but ones from the official sponsors of the events.

A look at the website shows it is offering tickets for the upcoming Super Bowl next year, with a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes. It has a link to different ticket packages, then a second to extras that can be added to your package, then a seating chart and so on. Currently tickets max out at $11,799 each.

The Level White Package starts with seats at $5,899 and has seats in the corner of level 100 at MetLife Stadium. The amenities include a $100 In-Stadium Super Bowl XLVIII merchandise coupon, preferred on-location parking (for an addition fee for the actual parking) and access to the NFL On-Location venue.

It does seem that all but well-heeled fans are increasingly phased out of the modern sports picture and while I like the idea of this and if I had the cash might actually try and use the service but increasingly fans of teams are the last that get served by the leagues when the biggest events come around, forcing them to try all sorts of maneuvers to get tickets. Maybe USA Today can also start a business finding bargain seats for real fans who aren’t loaded with cash?

World Baseball Classic sets International Venues

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As the Major League Baseball season starts to head toward the playoffs, another sort of baseball playoff schedule is starting to emerge as the World Baseball Classic has finished its first round of qualifiers and has set its international sites.

While little of the action will be this year, it is obvious that competitive baseball will be starting earlier than usual next season. That is not to discount the last two qualifiers still to be played this year to fill the last two spots open for teams.

Two World Baseball Classic teams advance
Canada and Spain advanced to the tournament with wins in their qualifier series last week, and did so in very different fashion. Canada crushed the home team Germans 11-1 in a laugher to advance to the WBC next year. Meanwhile down in Florida Spain edged out Israel 9-7 in a five hour marathon that saw the game winner scored in the 10th inning. Next round of qualifiers is next month.

The next two sets of qualifiers are slated for play in November. One will take place in Panama City, Panama and will feature Brazil, Columbia, Nicaragua and Panama while the other will take place in Taipei, Taiwan and will include Taipei, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand.

First Round
(Pool Play)
Pool A (Fukuoka, Japan): Japan, China, Cuba, Qualifier Winner. March 2-6
Pool B (Taichung, Taiwan): Korea, Netherlands, Australia, Qualifier Winner March 2-6
Pool C (San Juan): Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Qualifier Winner. March 7-10
Pool D (Phoenix): USA, Mexico, Italy, Qualifier Winnerr. March 7-10.

Second Round (Modified Double Elimination):
Pool A (Tokyo): Guessing this will be the winners of Pool A and B, March 7-10
Pool B (Miami): Guessing this will be the winners of Pool C and D, March 12-16

Semi-Finals and Finals: AT&T Park, San Francisco, March 17-19

The World Baseball Classic starts this Week

While Major League Baseball has not yet reached the wild card round of play, the World Baseball Classic is preparing for its first round of qualifiers with games being played in Jupiter Florida and Regensburg, Germany.

For teams that are going to

rely on filling out their rosters with current MLB players, well you are just going to have to wait apparently, something that could harm the chances of some of the teams involved.

The first qualifier, the one held in Jupiter, will feature teams from France, Israel, South Africa and Spain while the second one in Regensburg will have the teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and Great Britain.

The next two sets of qualifiers are slated for play in November. One will take place in Panama City, Panama and will feature Brazil, Columbia, Nicaragua and Panama while the other will take place in Taipei, Taiwan and will include Taipei, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand.

The Jupiter qualifiers run from Sept. 19-23 while the Regensburg qualifiers run from Sept. 20-24. The Panama City qualifiers run from Nov. 15-19 while the Taipei City qualifier runs from Nov. 15-18. All of the game will be broadcast for free online.

In addition, the final game of each pool will be aired in the United States and Puerto Rico on MLB Network. MLB Network will air the final qualifier game from Jupiter on tape delay at 8 p.m. ET this Sunday, September 23rd and the final game of the Regensburg qualifier live on Monday, September 24th at 1 p.m. ET

The winner of each qualifier is then entered into the 2013 World Baseball Classic tournament that will begin next year in March. The qualifier rounds, which include the four teams that did not win any games in the 2009 WBC, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Panama and South Africa, are a six-game modified double-elimination format.

The winners of these rounds join the 12 nations that received automatic invites based on their last WBC performance. The countries are – Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

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Next Spring’s World Baseball Classic Sets Playoff Sites

The next version of the World Baseball Classic is coming again to a stadium near you (if you are lucky) again next spring, to no doubt be preceded by a great deal of wondering what countries many of the players are truly from.

That aside it looks like the stadiums for the event have been settled on and while many of the tournament sites are around the globe it looks like the United States has landed the big fish, with the semifinals and championship games slated to play as the San Francisco Giants home field, AT&T Park.

The Second round games will be hosted in Miami by the Marlins while the first round looks to be hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at both their home park Chase Field as well as at its Cactus League home of Salt River Field at Talking Stick, which is located nearby in Scottsdale, Az.

The international venues have still to be announced but that news is expected in the next few weeks as well as game dates, who has qualified to fill the 28 slots and ticket availability. You can stay up to date on what is going on among the various nations as they seek to qualify by accessing the events Facebook page here or its web site here.

There have been a few issues that have arisen prior to the upcoming event. Japan, the two time defending champion, is upset that it has not been able to get a larger share of the revenue that the event generates, and has threatened to boycott. The nation will be hosting some first round games. The Koreans have also threatened, although theirs has more to do with issue unrelated to the event.

There should be qualifier games coming pretty soon, and at least one set, called the Jupiter qualifier has been moved from November to September, which could affect any of the nations that were seeking to have any MLB players on their roster. The teams involved are Israel, South Africa, France and Spain.

One thing I am very interested to find out if I sign up early for Major League At Bat early next year will I be able to watch the games on that service, and will any games be subject to blackout?