Feature Article - March 2002
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Not So Minor Attractions

The major success of minor-league baseball

By Kelli Anderson


More bang for the buck

Previously, minor league's idea of marketing was to have a company buy up 10,000 tickets for 50 cents apiece and give out free tickets. This was considered a great promotion. All it did, however, was to cheapen the product. Nobody would buy. Stein and Dominoe decided to invest the same $5,000 to buy quality, long shelf life items printed with the team logo. People were willing to pay full price tickets to get a quality item.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE READING PHILLIES
Fans can log some splash time at the Reading
Eagle Pool Pavilion at the Reading Phillies GPU
Stadium in Reading, Pa.

"For the same money, we got a lot more bang for the buck—3,000 to 4,000 people to buy a ticket at full price and get an item with our name on it," Dominoe says.

After getting a little successful, Dominoe says, you get more people to buy tickets and reinvest it in the facility. The facility grows, and you invest some more.

With each new addition to the facility at Reading's GPU Stadium, community interest grew. A now 52-year-old classic brick ballpark has been renovated several times over and recently celebrated the completion of the $1.4-million Reading Eagle Pool Pavilion. The 1,000 square-foot heated swimming pool with two levels boasts water cannons and waterfalls and was created as part of a three-tiered deck picnic area off right field. And this is no ordinary picnic area—it features 31 picnic tables (each with their own closed-circuit TV), an impressive two-hour catered buffet, private restrooms and locker rooms. "It's just awesome," Hunsicker says. "It's the baseline of our business."

Set apart from the crowd

Such mouth-dropping features at ballparks are part of an ongoing effort for each park to set itself apart, to offer something that can compete with anything the community can offer.

"We had 460,000 last season," Hunsicker says. "The pool is the hinge that everyone talks about. This is different. It's got waterfalls and cascades—we wanted it to be the best. We have themes here: The traditional hot dogs and popcorn have an old-time park feel; the deck area is like a restaurant; and the picnic area is as nice or nicer than you'll ever get for family reunions and company parties. We try to compete with those people and just happen to have a game going on too."