APPLE SEEDS: Take me out to the ballgame
There are few things in life better than summer. One of the favourite ‘get to know you’ questions is often which season is your favourite and why. I am reasonably sure that somewhere on Facebook there is a quiz where you can answer these questions and find out about the real you.
Well… I love summer and to be honest, I don’t care what that says about the real me. Long hot days, tall, cool beverages with the added bonus of the caress of a warm summer breeze across your skin in the early evening as the sun lowers its fiery head.
Does it get any better than that?
Oh yes it does… Add a baseball game, sitting in the best seats in the house, row one - at the screen, behind home plate – FOR $12, the most expensive seats in the house. Okay… to be honest, $15-ish based on exchange CAD to USD.We have family speckled around the US, and most of them close enough for a road trip. Knowing we would have an extra couple of days, we did some checking hoping to take in a ballgame. Alas, Blue Jays were not at home. However, the farm team, the Buffalo Bisons, were playing against the Syracuse Chiefs, farm team to the Washington Nationals.
A slight detour through Syracuse was justified. A mere 3+ hours from home, and this was the first time I had done anything other than fly out of the airport, but not the last.
The stadium seats just over 11,000, and mid-week, saw about 2/3 full. Our premium seats were cheap, and fantastic. We were literally “spitting distance” from the on-deck batters. The bull pen ran along the seats at the first base line. Young fans gathered pre-game to get autographs from their favourite pitchers.
As the minority in a crowd of season ticket holders, enthusiastically cheering for the Bisons, we raised a few eyebrows and inspired some good natured rivalry as we cheered on Chris Colabello (on the 40-man Jays roster) and Ryan Goins in rehab assignment.
We were a couple of seats away from two guys, obviously from the Jays, scouting out Scott Diamond and the pitching pool. We watched Matt Skole (from the Chiefs) knock ‘em out of the park, under the eye of an executive from the Nationals.
It was a Wednesday, and that meant a winning score for the Chiefs translated into free tickets to another home game. The obvious choice was to book another deluxe room at Quality Inn for $84, hit Destiny Mall (tons of entertainment – an entire floor full, great food, and over 200 retailers) and cash in our tickets for a free game.
As luck would have it, Thursday was $1 hotdog and $2 beer and fireworks extravaganza. We wisely opted for the $8 cab ride.
For every run scored by the Chiefs, a pound of coffee was donated to the local food bank by Dunkin’ Donuts. If the Chiefs won, trade your ticket for a free taco treat. During every break young fans participate in a ‘minute to win it’ type of contest. If the pre-chosen hitter from the other guys (in our case, the Bisons) struck out, your ticket meant a deal at a local business. The winning game also meant free money at the nearby Turning Stone casino.
There are a few things Americans seem to do really well. Marketing and promotion in association with their sports teams is one of them.The crowd was engaged and excited to be there. The promotions throughout the stadium and the game heightened the thrill, and I was no exception to the effect of good marketing. We were planning our next trip before we even left. My only disappointment (and that included the Bisons losing both games) was that I felt an opportunity was lost, in that we missed most of the season.
I know it doesn’t have quite the glamour of the Major Leagues (Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Yankee Stadium) but we spent three days and two nights for $168 in hotels including breakfast, $45 for 2 terrific baseball games, parking and cabs.
We shopped and solved break-out action/adventure puzzles at 5 Wits in the mall (or we tried to – turns out, we need to improve our listening and teamwork skills) which we did because our lunch receipt gave us a BOGO deal – another marketing success in cross promotions. Syracuse has been added to our list of easy getaways.
With the rumour of an AHL franchise drifting around, hockey lovers in Belleville continue to cross their fingers. Hockey executives take a note … Make it affordable, make it fun, and the loyal fan base ensures success of the franchise for years to come.
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