To say that 2009 was a terrible year for the Winston-Salem Dash is an understatement: a new ballpark sat uncompleted as the team slogged through a miserable lame-duck season at Wake Forest Baseball Park, drawing just 901 fans a game. To say there was a huge streak of cynicism among local fans is an understatement. Fast forward to 2010, as the Dash opened a new ballpark and embarked on the long process of bringing enthusiasm back to the local baseball scene. The hard work paid off, as the team led the Carolina League in attendance, drawing 312,313 fans to BB&T Ballpark and averaging 4,592 fans a game – an 410 percent increase. That dramatic turnaround makes the Winston-Salem Dash the choice for the 2010 Organization of the Year award from Ballpark Digest, the leading guide to baseball and ballparks on the Internet.
“It was pretty clear that the Dash needed to do more than just open the doors to a new ballpark to bring fans back,” said Kevin Reichard, publisher of Ballpark Digest. “The 2009 season was terrible: the team’s standing in the community was pretty low, and many were questioning whether Winston-Salem should pick up the tab for a new ballpark.
“Those questions were answered after the opening of BB&T Ballpark and fans could see a game plan from the team. The ballpark was a smash – and more importantly, the Dash became an integral part of the local sporting scene.”
“We are very much honored to receive this award,” said Dash President Geoff Lassiter. “Our organization has come a long way in the last few years, so it was very satisfying for the 2010 season to be such a resounding success. This award belongs to every member of our team: from the front office staff to every game day employee. Without all of their hard work, winning this award would not have been possible.”
Opening a new ballpark is never easy, especially one delayed by funding crises. An integral part of this award is how successfully the Dash carried out the ballpark opening, starting the season on the right foot. Ballpark Digest was there for the opening of BB&T Ballpark. You can read the story here.
The economy made for a tough 2010 for many baseball organizations. Here are the runner-up organizations for this award:
Richmond Flying Squirrels: Going back to the Richmond market after the unexpected loss of the Richmond Braves required a lot of tact and skill, and the Flying Squirrels front office responded with a lot of class. Showing that they weren’t just carpetbaggers, the front office spent money on The Diamond while convincing local officials to seriously consider funding a new ballpark — something the Braves never quite accomplished.
Minnesota Twins: We already honored the Twins with our Ballpark of the Year award. The same reasoning that went into this award also applies to the team’s consideration for the Organization of the Year: It was a fabulously successful year for the team, especially off the field.
Dayton Dragons: Another year, another set of sellouts. Any baseball team that doesn’t try to emulate what the Dragons do — a great product combined with a personalized touch — isn’t serious about success.
ABOUT THE BALLPARK DIGEST AWARDS
Each year Ballpark Digest honors noteworthy accomplishments in the baseball world, whether it be Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, independent baseball, summer-collegiate baseball or college baseball. Readers are asked to submit nominations for awards in specific categories; Ballpark Digest editors then go though the submissions (numbering some 400 pages of documentation last year). The awards cover both individual accomplishments as well as team accomplishments. This is the fourth season for the Ballpark Digest Awards. A complete listing of Ballpark Digest Awards can be found at ballparkdigest.com/awards.
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