With the start of the NBA season now less than three weeks away, it will soon be time for Wizards season ticket holders to start paying attention again to the team's Monumental Rewards program in a more serious way. That is, assuming we still see any substantial value in this program at all. For those of us who do or are still maintaining hope, it looks like there are some changes either implemented or in store.
Since this program was introduced by the team prior to the 2013-2014 season, I've had an up and down relationship with it. I loved it at first because it got me into the VIP lounges a whole bunch of times in the first year it was implemented; loved it less the next year when they cut that experience back to just once each month; became disillusioned with the program when they deleted that benefit entirely and replaced it with a once a year much higher priced shared suite experience; then maybe saw an uptick this summer with a Capitals exclusive edition bobblehead and some Mystics benefits I was able to take advantage of. Now the program is entering its fourth year. Let's take a look at some implemented and potential changes before we get this season kicked off. We'll look at this thing in three parts.
The Current Catalog
When I'm dealing with the items available now on the Monumental Rewards site, I'm really talking about items and experiences related to the Wizards, not the entire available inventory. Last year my opinion of the items available for purchase here was pretty low. Like literally there was nothing I wanted except a couple of tickets to a suite game, which (again) the team limited to a single purchase.
So what's available right now? Here's the current list, with points value and some snarky comments.
- Wizards Portfolio Notebook (5,000 points): Depending on the size I could actually use one of these. I've been using the same notebook at work for about 20 years now.
- Wizards Moscow Mule Mug Set (60,000 points): Don't drink Moscow mules and I own glasses that work already if I did. By the way I have no idea why this item even exists. Are Moscow mules a big thing? They must be, right? Excuse me if I'm out of touch here.
- Wizards Shooting Sleeve (5,000 points): Why? Why would I ever need this. There is a limit of two on this item due to limited availability. Again...why? Who even wants ONE of these?
- Wizards Umbrella (20,000 points): I'm of the opinion that you can never have too many umbrellas.
- Wizards Shot Glass (15,000 points): Seems a bit high priced but OK. Not really a shots at home guy, though.
- Wizards Beach Towel (15,000 points): OK. Fine.
- Wizards Travel Bag (45,000 points): This was the season ticket holder gift last year. Already have one that I haven't used.
- Wizards DC Rising T Shirt (1,000 points): Leftover in game giveaway. There are made in XL only. I am not XL.
- John Wall 2015 All Star Frame (5,000 points): Already have one. It's in the back of my closet.
- Wizards Aluminum Water Bottle (5,000 points): Already have one that I haven't used.
I'm not pumped about the current catalog in case that wasn't obvious. Now in their defense Monumental Sports has added new items this summer to about double the available items and they just added the portfolio in the last week. Maybe there's more to come. Or maybe I better just get more optimistic about what's already available. I might not have any choice on this last point. Shooting sleeve, anyone?
Earning and Using Points
The big news for me on earning and using points which broke this past month is that you can no longer hang on to your Monumental Rewards points forever. Yep, that's right. These things now expire. I currently have about 140,000 points and according the my last Monumental Rewards statement, 44,347 of them are going to disappear on December 31 of this year. This is too bad because I had some sort of grand vision of stockpiling an enormous amount of points for some future auction of concert tickets or something like that because right now I'm just not competitive on most auctions (we'll get to auctions in a minute or two). Now I'm going to be forced to buy something I don't want or just give up the points. Unless something good is posted in the next month or so, I may end up with an umbrella, a portfolio, a beach towel and a shooting sleeve (because why not?). Christmas presents maybe?
The smaller news on the earning side is that it appears the 125 point credit for posting each of our season tickets on Ticketmaster re-sale site (with an added 125 per ticket for a sale) has disappeared. This was a great deal and it's too bad it's gone because this was a great way to rack up some points in a system that only really handed out a significant amount of points for dollars spent on season tickets. Even if we didn't intend to sell our tickets, we could earn a few extra points by posting tickets; the points didn't expire with an expired listing. Now those of us who spend relatively little on season tickets have less of a way to get more points to compete with those who pay a lot. The rich get richer is the message here. On the other hand, if the catalog doesn't change and points are going to expire, I'm not sure I care about losing this way of getting more points.
Translating the Current Capitals Catalog to the Wizards
So what's in store in the future? Well, if I waited a couple of weeks to post this, I could probably tell you point by point but where's the fun in that when I actually have the opportunity to hopefully speculate by looking at items recently added to the Washington Capitals category of the catalog.
The Caps catalog right now is way better than the Wizards catalog. There's a big reason for that: the team just added a whole bunch of items to the stockroom. Within the last couple of weeks, they have added some clothing, suite tickets, an insulated lunchbox and some other things like a riding the zamboni experience. They have also added a brand new bobblehead of T.J. Oshie to go with last season's Monumental Rewards only Andre Burakovsky bobblehead (which interestingly has recently had it's price slashed in half to just 15,000 points). I'm hoping this means similar items will be added to the Wiz side of the store, although I'm wondering if the price cut on the Burakovsky bobble means there's no demand and the team will abandon my personal dream of Monumental Rewards-only Wizards bobbleheads. Please, no!!!
So about those suite tickets... As I mentioned earlier in this post, last year suite tickets were available for purchase on a once per season type offer. The suite tickets were set at a lump sum price which varied by opponent (I paid more for suite tickets against the Celtics than my buddy Stephen did for the same item vs. the Pistons for example). If the Caps catalog is any indicator, this same deal won't stand this year.
Right now there are three sets of suite tickets available on the Monumental Rewards site for October (these are shown in the picture above). They include four (rather than two last year) tickets so that's an improvement. Well, unless you don't need four tickets of course. They are also no longer fixed price but instead are offered at auction. And that's very bad for fans like me and those who spend less than me per season. Of the three auctions, I'm already priced out of two of them and would have to pretty much go all in if I wanted to bid on the third.
Why is this bad? Well, it's because of the way points are earned. Auctions favor those who spend the most on tickets. Season ticket holders earn five points for each dollar spent on season tickets. That means someone like me who spends $9,350 on season tickets get awarded 46,750 points each year. That seems like a lot but not if anything valuable on the site is selling at auction for over 100,000 points and you can't save your points from year to year.
Now let's say you buy VIP tickets (which already gets you club access and free food and drinks every game) at the cheapest level, which is $186 per seat. Buying two season tickets gets you just shy of 80,000 points, which still doesn't win you an auction for suite tickets. Buy a pair of cheap seats on the side of the court inside the hockey boards ($320 per game by the way) and those come with 136,000 points. NOW you can start buying up items at auction. There are maybe 300 accounts in this price range and they can buy all the good stuff if they really want to, leaving the rest of us to wonder why we own two Wizards shooting sleeves.
Are you tired of me complaining? I am. I hate complaining. I hate complaining even more about a program that is an added benefit just within the last four years with no increase in cost. Well, except for the steadily rising cost of attending games to watch a team that hasn't raised any banner since 1979 that is. Maybe the bar was set too high the first year. Maybe since it's an advertised benefit, I am annoyed that the program value really has diminished to nothing. Or maybe I should just stop paying attention to Monumental Rewards because it's too upsetting.
I still maintain some sort of hope that something good will come out of this site in the future. But I'm also prepared to buy a couple of umbrellas and not get anything substantial this year. It's too bad. It was a great idea. Once.