Jupiter tries to Thirsty Thursdays to boost attendance
Roger Dean Stadium's opening night Thirsty Thursday drew a larger crowd than expected - which isn't a bad thing. - MLD Photo
By Chuck King
Minor league baseball teams have not been exempt from the economy’s downtown, leaving many front offices scrambling for ways to increase revenue.
At Florida’s Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, officials have bought an old standby to the ballpark for the first time.
Opening night of 2009 featured the ballpark’s first Thirsty Thursday, offering fans a 16-ounce beer or soda for $2.
“Many, many other minor league teams are doing it,” stadium general manager Joe Pinto said. “It’s a great way to bring a crowd, as long as we can keep it controlled – which I know we will. It’ll introduce some people to the stadium who haven’t been here for a ballgame.”
Initial response to the promotion proved surprising effective. Though overall attendance wasn’t too different from past opening days, lines for beverages were significantly longer.
The promotion could prove particularly successful at Roger Dean, which has a branch of Florida Atlantic University located right down the street.
“I like the idea,” said Eric Page, a manager for Sportservice, which runs the stadium concessions. “I think it will bring more people in. We started with one location today. We are going to open up at least two locations next week. We’ll open up as many as they need.”
Though the lines were longer than normal on opening night, most fans didn’t seem to mind too much.
“It’s the opening night for the minor leagues so I would have come anyways, but as far as Thirsty Thursdays is concerned, I will probably come to more games simply because of that throughout the summer,” Sean Nealon said.
Pinto said the ballpark needed approval from both parent clubs before they could offer the deal. He was told the Marlins and Cardinals will monitor the promotion to ensure it doesn’t get out of control.
While Roger Dean doesn’t plan to host some of the wackier minor league baseball promotions, they’ve also added dollar hot dogs for seniors on Sundays and plan to bring host some musical acts.
“The beauty of minor league baseball is that you can try anything,” said Pinto, who hasn’t attempted the Thirsty Thursday promotion at any of the other minor league parks he’s managed. “This isn’t a losing proposition for us. Our goal is to get people here once, and then hope they have a good time and come back.”
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