The Connecticut Tigers are doing more this preseason than just preparing Dodd Stadium for play: they're reaching out and doing some community outreach before the first pitch is thrown.
It has been a transitional off-season for the Connecticut Tigers (short season; NY-Penn League): the team uprooted from its home at Oneonta's Damaschke Field and set up operations in Norwich's Dodd Stadium, the former home of the Connecticut Defenders (Class AA; Eastern League).
There were some hurt feelings in Norwich when the Defenders left, even though the market didn't really enthusiastically support the franchise, even going back to the days when the Norwich Navigators benefited from the New York Yankees as a parent. Assuaging those hurt feelings, therefore, is one of the biggest challenges facing Tigers management.
So far the game plan has been pretty simple: reach out on the community level. The team has already had one town-hall style meeting and has another one scheduled for Saturday at the Old Mystick Village Art Cinemas in Mystic, CT from noon-1 p.m.
The forum will allow fans from the southern part of New London County to meet the staff and ask questions or provide suggestions.
The consensus in the baseball world seems to be that Norwich is a much better short-season market than Class AA market; a look at Navigators/Defenders attendance trends shows that the best time the team drew fans was squarely within short-season timelines. It may take a little while for the C-Tigers to establish themselves in the marketplace; we're guessing there will be some small, small crowds at the beginning of the season.
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