I went out to eat the other night at a chain restaurant and noticed a banner outside proclaiming its prices a "stimulus plan" for families looking for a bargain.
And just recently I received an e-mail from the Oakland A's for its "2 for 1 Stimulus Plan" where two seats cost as much as one if I buy season tickets for some seats. I looked at the seats available and while they're in the first deck, they're so far in the outfield that I might as well be sitting in the bleachers. I'll pass, even with the discount.
And a search of the Internet reveals all kinds of other "Stimulus Plans" from baseball teams around the country, many of them minor league teams, as a way to get fans in the door in a recession. They seem to be the new buzzwords to get people jazzed about a sale.
The Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A team of the Colorado Rockies, have a stimulus plan that offers discounts such as 50-cent hot dog nights, half price tickets for Monday through Wednesday games, kids eat free on Sundays, and free youth clinics.
The Drillers get right to the point on their Web site: "In these uncertain economic times, The Tulsa Drillers have developed an economic stimulus package so that families can enjoy Texas League baseball this season. The club is offering several programs to make Drillers Baseball affordable for families this spring and summer."
The Baltimore Orioles have a "Birdland Stimulus Package" that looks like just another name for the same discounts it probably offered last year: Reduced price tickets for students on Friday nights, free tickets for kids at Thursday games if they come with a paying adult, and a free ticket on your birthday.
In October the Cleveland Cavaliers had an "Entertainment Stimulus Plan" that discounted tickets to a few games by up to 20%.
In November, OpenTable.com had an "Appetite Stimulus Plan" that offered "prices to rally around."
The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia had a "Cultural Stimulus Plan" for half-price shows.
The term is being overused so much that ticket broker Big Dog Tickets has a "Ticket Stimulus Plan" that doesn't look like it offers anything more than it did before it came up with the catchy phrase. Unless the free shipping offer is new and is what is meant by the phrase: "Finally, somewhere your return on investment is guaranteed."
The list of teams with "attendance stimulus plans" goes on and on. It's just another way to try to get more people in the seats, as sports teams do every season with discounts.
I just wish they'd come up with a better name. A stimulus is supposed to put money in my pocket, not try to take it out.
Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net