As regular inhabitants of the Jingu bleachers, we here at Tsubamegun only carry one card, the Swallows Fan Club card. If you pay to spend more than 4 games in the Jingu outfield in a season, joining the Swallows Fan Club is a no brainer. The money saved on tickets alone is worth the 5000 yen fee for a regular membership. On top of the savings, you’ll also get some Swallows merch that, depending on your tastes, you might find nice/useful. Let’s look at what you’ll get…
The first thing that you get is one free outfield unreserved ticket to 5 games of your choosing. In other words, with the 5000 yen membership fee, you’re essentially paying 1000 yen per ticket for tickets that normally cost 1500 yen. The fan club card also gives you the ability to buy up to 2 outfield unreserved tickets per game at 1000 yen, OR you can buy up to 2 infield B reserved tickets per game at 500 yen off (2100 yen or 2600 yen depending on the opponent). The former 2 deals are available on game day at the Fan Club window, which is located by Gate 6 near the front entrance. The infield deal is only available in advance through Loppi machines located in Lawson convenience stores. I should also note that you can only make use of one of these deals for any given game, so you won’t be able to get three outfield tickets for a single game by redeeming one of your free tickets and trying to buy 2 discount tickets.
Although the preseason exhibition season is now over, early adopters of the Fan Club card can also get free entry to all Jingu exhibition games.
The above perks have remained unchanged over the years, and as you can see, it’s a pretty good deal if you come to the stadium often. In fact the fan club is such a good deal, it’s not rare to see Tigers’ fans in line at the Fan Club window on days we play Hanshin.
The wildcard every year is the merchandise. The last couple of years the Swallows fan club merch has been bags (messenger bag in 2010, and backpack in 2011), that are so gaudy that you barely felt comfortable carrying them to a game. This year the Swallows have gone the opposite direction and have come out with a canvas tote bag reminiscent of ones offered at PBS pledge drives. Also, following in last year’s swag you also get a mini-umbrella adorned with Swallows’ player caricatures. If you don’t already own a mini-umbrella for Tokyo Ondo, you can save yourself 700 yen and just use this one. Oddly enough this year’s umbrella features Aoki in a panel with Ogawa and Keizo Kawashima.
You’ll also get a Fan Book with player profiles and a few articles, I’ve seen the Fan Book retail for 800 yen at bookstores. You’ll also get ONDO, the Fan Club only magazine. ONDO, which apparently stands for Our Native Drama is Open!, is filled with player interviews with softball questions and very random but sometimes interesting features. Typically 3-4 issues will be delivered to your home during the season. Finally, my favorite piece of reading material that comes with the Fan Club swag bag is the Official Goods Catalogue, where you can marvel at all the different products that can be adorned with the Swallows’ logo. (Can anyone say Snoopy doll in a Swallows uniform? No??? How ’bout the keychain?)
To round it all off, in the event that we’ll host Climax Series events again this year, Fan Club members will be able to apply in a preferential queue for tickets.
Are there other tiers of Fan Club membership?
There are three other tiers of Fan Club membership, Kids, Family, and Premium. The basics for all the tiers are the same, except some minor differences in swag. For 3,500 yen, Kids members (below middle school age) can get into all games in outfield unreserved for free, and get a cap instead of a tote bag. The Family membership is basically a combination of Regular and Kids memberships with the price dependent upon the number of adults (up to 2) and children (up to 3) in the arrangement. Every member gets everything that comes with their respective memberships, plus a fan and neck warmer. Finally, the Premium membership generally comes with a replica uniform and a completely non-functional piece of merchandise (e.g. crystal Tsubakuro statue). This year the swag for the 10,000 yen membership seems to be a powder blue uniform and a Tsubakuro doll. Premium membership also gets you the chance to be invited to exclusive signings and player meet-and-greets. We also found out last year that Premium members are allowed to book a bigger allotment of Climax Series seats. (12 seats as opposed to 4 for Regular members.)
How do I join?
You can join online or through a Loppi machine at a Lawsons to get everything delivered to your house. But the easiest thing to do if you’re going to the stadium is to just sign up at Jingu. Tables are set up near the fan club window by Gate 6, fill out the form, hand over your cash, and they’ll hand you your new membership card and bag-o-swag right on the spot. The Swallows website says they’ll be accepting 11,000 members for Regular membership this year, up from the usual 10,000 members from past years. This has typically meant that the sign up tables have been out for the first couple of months of the season.