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Pensacola gets early jump on ticket sales, discusses ballpark size

Southern LeagueA Pensacola Southern League team isn’t due to arrive in Florida until 2012, but that’s not stopping season-ticket sales to that inaugural campaign from going on sale now — even as a discussion arises in the city over the size of the ballpark.

The team is asking potential season-ticket holders to put $100 down on 2012 season tickets; the price will be $560 for box seats, through 2010 season-ticket holders for the Pensacola Pelicans (independent; American Association) will be $470. The team is also organizing a trip to Mobile to see the current Carolina Mudcats (Class AA; Southern League) in action.

The bigger discussion, however, is what sort of ballpark the team will call home. Original plans for Maritime Park called for a 3,500-seat ballpark; new team owner Quint Studer says 5,000 seats should be enough (making it the smallest ballpark in Double-A), but the more realistic total capacity is 6,000 if you factor in group spaces and berm seating.

“It is felt that based on the size of the Pensacola market and location of the stadium that a minimum of 5,000 is sufficient,” Studer wrote in a letter to Community Maritime Park Associates, the group actually building the ballpark. “While this would make the Maritime Park stadium the smallest of the 30 AA team stadiums, it is better to have less seats which creates more demand for tickets.”

We don’t expect these discussions to end: the original ballpark also didn’t meet Double-A specs in other areas, such as player spaces and amenities. Adding a thousand seats is a lot more expensive than just installing the actual seats: it’s a matter of adding the infrastructure to accommodate those fans, including restrooms and points of sale. Right now Community Maritime Park Associates is looking at dipping into a $4-million contingency fund, and we’re guessing by the time the ballpark plan is more fleshed out with what is required of an affiliated ballpark, most of that money will be spent.

As you’ll recall, Studer is buying the aforementioned Mudcats and moving the team to Pensacola for the 2012 season. The Kinston Indians (High Class A; Carolina League) will be moving to Zebulon for the 2012 season.

RELATED STORIES: Carolina to Pensacola, Kinston to Zebulon in 2012

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