The most common question I get from September through March is something along the lines of “what do you do down there all day during the off-season?” It is a valid question. On one hand… Days in September are spent on Netflix, Hulu, etc, catching up on some shows or movies that I missed for one reason or another. On the other hand… Work does (eventually) start getting done. We have off-season events at the park like a charity baseball game or our annual Trick-or-Treat night… More to come on that. Of course, we also start selling and planning for next year too.
The biggest news this off-season, outside of the Power re-upping with the Pittsburgh Pirates for four more years is, no doubt, our new field. This is a lengthy process that started long before the season ended, but the renovations began in early October. I’ve taken a few pictures each day to show the progress, and those will soon see the light of day. I can show you some of these pics I’ve taken with my iPhone to forward on to friends and Power manager Michael Ryan.
The company that did the resurfacing has also done several other minor league parks as well as both major outdoor stadiums in Washington, DC. The process began by removing the old playing field at Appalachian Power Park, essentially five feet at a time. The old sod was the original turf that was installed when the park was built in 2005. Major League clubs have the ability and financial means to resurface a field every two or three years. Minor League clubs tend to replace their playing fields every eight to ten seasons.
Consider this math: An average of 67 Power games plus an average of 35 collegiate games plus nine high school state tournament games each season. That is an average of 111 games per year and put this surface at well over 1,000 since 2005. The new sod is then laid out just like the old stuff was removed: five feet at a time.
A major part of the off-season is planning for the new year. On several separate occasions, our staff met to discuss what went right and what went wrong in 2014. This conversation is held, in some form, in every Minor League Baseball front office across the country. Our first meeting was held in the Legends Club at the ballpark before a staff lunch and bowling. The second meeting was held at Adventures on the Gorge with zip-lining right after.
2014 was our tenth anniversary season and we put together a pretty stout promotional campaign. Coming off of that, I think we have some great things in the works for 2015. I don’t want to reveal the entire schedule, but I will fill you in on some of the Top Ten promotional nights that you should see during the 2015 campaign.
The upcoming year marks the 25th anniversary of the Charleston Wheelers South Atlantic League Championship. It looks like we will do a celebration our franchise’s only league title in late April, full with an appearance or giveaway and replica Wheelers jerseys.
Popular staples like Redneck Night, Chuck’s Birthday and Back-to-School Night will return. After the success of Wrestling Night last year with Mrs. Foley’s little boy, I think it is safe to say that is coming back as well. I had a brilliant idea, and yes I’m biased, but I think there is a theme night coming based on one of my favorite movies. I won’t give it away, but I’ll throw this out there.
On October 30, we held our ninth annual Trick-or-Beat event. We partner with 98.7 The Beat, a local radio station, and invite kids out to the ballpark to trick-or-treat in a safe and well-lit environment. Over the last couple of years, I’ve gone as Captain America or David Beckham. This year… a hockey player. Or as the kids called me “hockey man.”
Yes… that is just make-up and I did not fall while on the roller blades. I’ll never have another bad day.