THE EAGLES, having thoroughly infuriated blue-collar fans with their ill-fated hoagie ban, are now taking on the bluebloods.
This time, the battlefield is VIP parking spaces, a commodity that in elite circles is every bit as valued as imported capicola.
Scores of fans who held treasured spots within a few steps of the Vet’s front gate have been told they’re on their own at the new Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles say they don’t have enough room for the old-timers. Only those who shelled out up to $300,000 for private suites are sure to get VIP parking spots, the Eagles said.
The result: ruffled feathers and a repeat of an increasingly common refrain that the Eagles don’t care about their oldest, most loyal fans.
Fans like Bobby Rydell, the pop singing legend and a Philadelphia icon.
Rydell said he’s held 14 seats for 35 years, since the the old Franklin Field days. He’s been with the Birds through thick and thin. He’s even sung the National Anthem before a game – “and never charged them a dime. ”
He coughed up the dough for seat licenses at the Linc, paid the full ticket price.
“All I want is one parking space, one stupid parking space,” Rydell said. “Nothing. ”
Councilman Frank Rizzo said he’s heard from plenty of other fans who have been told the same thing.
“I can’t do anything about it because it’s not a city-owned facility,” Rizzo said.
Louis Perry, a South Jersey mortgage broker, was one of those who contacted Rizzo for help. Perry’s late father, a former mayor of Somerdale, Camden County, got his VIP space from Rizzo’s dad, the ex-Philadelphia mayor.
“We’ve been parking there for 20 years,” Perry said, adding he paid about $150 for a spot just outside the stadium.
Now, he said, “I don’t even known if I’ll go this year, I’m so angry. ”
When he ordered his seats at the Linc, Perry said he was assured he’d get his spot at the new stadium. But when the tickets arrived in the mail, there was no parking pass.
It’s not just the VIPs who are miffed. Scores of fans who had previously purchased reserved parking at the Vet have been shut out. (The Eagles couldn’t provide exact numbers. )
Bob Andreacchio, of Medford, Burlington County, complained that he had paid the Eagles $18,000 for six seat licenses, but was denied reserved parking because he did not purchase more expensive club seats.
“To only allow reserved parking for club box owners is unfair,” said Andreacchio, who has held season tickets for seven years. “They built the stadium partially with my funds. The least they could say is I’m entitled to buy one parking spot. ”
Eagles spokesman Ron Howard said the problem is a lack of space.
The team, said Howard, controls only two parking lots, and those have fewer than 1,000 spots. Most of them will go to the suiteholders; a few of the more than 10,000 club seatholders also got VIP parking spots.
He said the team also leased spots west of 11th Street from the Wachovia Center. Those spots are reserved for club seatholders who purchased at least two tickets, and the news media.
“There are some fans who in the past, John Q. Season Ticketholder, who could buy VIP parking,” Howard said. “Well, we don’t have them available now, because they have been purchased by club seat holders. ”
As in Hoagiegate, the team expressed little sympathy for those who complain.
“I really don’t have an answer for you,” Howard said when asked what the team can offer longtime fans who are losing their spots. “We have new types of ticket packages that we didn’t have before, and with those ticket packages comes parking. ”
Rydell said, “I just don’t understand. It’s like the hoagie situation, it’s just kind of stupid . . .
“I can understand a certain amount [of spaces] for the people who bought the luxury boxes. I’m not looking for anything free – I’d pay.
“I’m just looking for one stupid parking space after being loyal for so many years. I’ve been all over the world. I talk to people about the Eagles wherever I go, being a faithful fan.
“I don’t understand it. ”
Said Perry: “It’s their attitude I don’t like.
“I doubt they’re making friends. They’ll make the money, but they’re making enemies, too.”