Ballpark Digest is starting a series called “Best of the Ballparks” where fans can vote on which parks are the best, nationwide, in AAA and AA–they may even be starting a Single-A version. They’ve seeded the stadiums, and fans can go to the site and vote for their favorites throughout the bracket–college basketball-style. Winners advance, and so on, until a champion is crowned. Perhaps you’ve not been to many of the parks, but reputation, pictures available online, seating charts and attendance statistics are widely available on the internet to help you decide. Or, you can just vote in the contest that you feel most strongly about.
For the AAA division (click here) Coca Cola Park was given the first overall seed, and a bye in the first round. We’ll face the winner of PNC Field in Moosic vs Raley Field in Sacramento in the second round. Surely, you’ll see me tweeting at you to go and vote–particularly if it’s PNC. You’ll see a social media flurry from the IronPigs, too. It started already yesterday, and we’re not even voting for Coca Cola Park yet.
The stat that’s been mentioned–and I’ve heard it before–is that Coca Cola Park is the only park in Minor League Baseball to host 600,000 fans each and every year since 2008. Some parks are newer and some are irrelevant. Still, 600k per year for seven-going-on-eight years is pretty impressive, and probably what earned us the first overall seed in AAA.
We’ve kind of touched on this before, but it gets me thinking about “why.” Why do so many fans go to the park each year in Allentown? What could other organizations do to emulate the IronPigs in both volume and consistency? Likely, it’s some combination of all these reasons, but let’s list them anyway. Rather than expound on each one, I’m just going to list them without comment. If you’d like to debate them, break them down, ask for clarification, or add to them–please do so in the comments. I’m not saying these are all correct–or even factors at all. These are just answers I got when I started asking people. They are not in any particular order.
Why do the IronPigs draw 600,000+ each and every year?
- Coca Cola Park. It’s a nice stadium.
- Lehigh Valley is a “baseball town.”
- Our proximity to Philadelphia, and the Phillies fans in the area
- Social: It’s become the “town square” of the Lehigh Valley
- Social: It’s like a big bar/hangout for people to meet and talk–the “town tavern’ if you will.
- There’s nothing else to do in the Lehigh Valley; no competition sports-wise or entertainment-wise.
- Management: They do a great job making the games entertaining.
- Interactive: The games are not only entertaining, but fans feel like they’re part of the game.
- Management: They do a great job selling groups to fill the seats
- Management: They do a great job selling season tickets and keeping season ticket holders happy.
- Investment: They’ve done a great job investing in the park–adding new seating areas and new concessions each year
- Location: Easy to get to and centrally located
- Parking: No worries about finding parking and no long walks–shuttles.
- People: They’ve done a great job staffing the stadium with folks you want to talk to and be around, who know you and recognize you when you return, and always a smile.
- Players: There have been a string of fan-friendly players who have made the games more personal for the fans.
- Noise Nation: Without us, they’re nothing. OK, kidding here. But within the season ticket holder group, there exists a core of fans who not only attend all the games but promote the team out in the community–Noise Nation or otherwise–let’s call them “IronPigs Evangelists.”
- IronPigs Charities: The team has done a great job integrating itself into the community itself, and supporting charitable ventures valley-wide.
- It’s fake. There haven’t really been that many fans; attendance figures are easy to manipulate.
- Giveaways. It’s all about the giveaways and the fireworks.
- Food. There are a lot of food choices, and some are unique to the park.
- Prices: Everything is reasonable and affordable
- Family Friendly: It’s something the whole family can do together and everybody enjoys it.
- Fans. They really just have the best fans. The BEST I tell you.
So there you have it. I’ll let you know when it’s time to get voting.
See you at the park,
PS: I talked to a lot of people for the above list. Special thanks, though, to Dan, DiPro, Cheryl and Decal for their input.
Cover Photo: NoiseNation file photo from 2013. Probably Cheryl Pursell
Top Photo: Stadium panorama shot from the Pig Pen seating area by Kram Junior