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Old 12-14-2007, 08:30 AM   #106
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Posted on Thu, Dec. 13, 2007
Wizards season-ticket holders pick seats at new ballpark



By BOB LUDER
The Kansas City Star A stinging, cold wind blew on another gray morning Thursday as an unfamiliar sight emerged at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

As snow and ice melted, it slowly gave way to a large Wizards logo painted where the T-Bones’ left-center field wall was three months ago.

A transition is in place. And though it’s been months and many degrees Fahrenheit since the place was bustling with minor-league baseball fans, there was plenty of activity Thursday.

The Wizards are allowing season ticket-holders to walk around the ballpark and visualize what the place will look like a little more than four months from now, when the Wizards open their 2008 Major League Soccer regular season March 29.

All week, Wizards ticket account executives have asked ticket-holders to visualize the northwest corner of the stadium, where about 700 permanent seats will be placed for the “Cauldron,” the Wizards’ rabid and vocal fan club and cheering section. They’ve imagined the bleachers that will be placed around the corner on the north side, above what now is the left-field wall. And the party decks on the northeast and southeast corners.

The Wizards also let those season ticket-holders select their seats for the upcoming season, which as of Thursday morning — and despite poor weather conditions canceling activities Tuesday — hundreds had taken advantage of.

That included Mike Kuhn of Lee’s Summit, a season ticket-holder since 2006. As a loyal member of the Cauldron, Kuhn already knew where he’d be sitting. But he came out Thursday to secure good seats, in Section 111, for his wife and parents.

“I was with (Wizards customer relations manager Sam Pierron) when we were trying to figure out where the Cauldron was going to be,” Kuhn said. “I think this is going to work out well … as well as it can in a baseball stadium.
“I’m looking forward to the greater intimacy of it.”
Kuhn said he was especially happy with where the Cauldron was placed, jutting right up to the west end line, just behind one of the goals.
“It’s right there,” he said. “It gives us a chance to get in a keeper’s head, things like that.”

Raymond Daniel, also a season ticket-holder the last two years, said he couldn’t wait for the construction of a soccer stadium where Bannister Mall now sits, a redevelopment plan that was approved unanimously by the City Council later Thursday afternoon.

Until then, he said CommunityAmerica would be just fine, especially as it’s right down the highway from his Parkville home.
“It’ll be better for soccer to have a soccer-specific stadium,” said Daniel, who claimed two seats in Row 3 of Section 111. “But this location is great. It’s close to plenty of eating places and recreation. There’s a lot for families to do.”

Kim Rice of Kansas City received Wizards season tickets from her husband as a Christmas present three years ago and said, “It was the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten.”

Thursday morning, she ventured out to the Village West area of Kansas City, Kan., to select two seats, 1 and 2, in Row 3 of Section 109.
“I think this is a great move until they get into a permanent stadium,” Rice said.

She said she wasn’t concerned that the largest block of seating will be facing at an angle from the sideline.
“It’ll be different, but I’m excited about the setup,” she said. “You’ll always have those people who’ll say, ‘It’s not Arrowhead,’ they don’t like change. But I know the Wizards will do everything they can to make sure the fans are taken care of.”

Because of the biting cold, most folks slipped outside and selected their seats quickly.
But not all.

“On Wednesday morning, I spent 45 minutes with a gentleman out there,” said Wizards account executive Hazel Soto. “Because of the ice, we weren’t supposed to let people walk down the steps, but he insisted on coming down and sat in each chair in Section 109. He finally picked four seats after 30 minutes. Then, he changed his mind and went to the other side.

“He just wanted to make sure he got the seats he wanted. But when we got up (to the suite), we realized we didn’t have available the seats he wanted.”
The solution?
“He just took the seats a row up,” Soto said, laughing. “I guess he didn’t want to send me back out into the cold.”
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