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Rochester puts out welcome mat for SWB Yankees

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre YankeesIt’s an unusual situation, but so far so good, with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) playing their first “home” series of the season at Rochester’s Frontier Field.

With Moosic’s PNC Field slated for renovation after the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball Properties close on a purchase of the team — which hasn’t happened in either case — the SWB Yankees are playing the entire season on the road as the Empire State Yankees. It’s not as onerous as you might think, however, as the Rochester Red Wings (Class AAA; International League) have taken in the wayward Yanks and given them a home for the season, with 37 of the team’s 72 home games slated for Frontier Field.

That’s extended to more than just hosting games: Rochester is the team’s base on many levels, with the visitors clubhouse converted to a Yankees-only space and the team working to house Yankees in the local community. Usually a team playing a season on the road means living out of a suitcase, but some thought was put into this situation: as the Yankees are playing other home games in Dwyer Stadium, home of the Batavia MuckDogs (short season A; NY-Penn League), as well as four other International League ballparks: Alliance Bank Stadium, home of the Syracuse Chiefs; Coca-Cola Field, home of the Buffalo BisonsCoca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs; and McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The vast majority of these games will take place in upstate New York, lessening the road impact on the team.

It’s a little too early to draw any conclusions from the first series of the year — on Monday the SWB Yanks drew 2,824, but last night’s crowd was an announced 1,451, with weather playing a role on both evenings. As a sign that success may be in the offing, the Red Wings sold more than 400 season tickets to the Yankees-only portion of the schedule.

“The risk is that the same amount of fans will come out, and we have 50 percent more dates,” Naomi Silver, president/CEO/COO of Rochester Community Baseball told the Times-Tribune. “We really need to attract additional fans. Anything we can do to bring attention to the team, to get it in front of the media, we have to do it.”

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