New management at the Syracuse Chiefs (Class AAA; International League) is finding out the hard way that turnarounds take more than a few months — but optimism reigns at NBT Bank Stadium.
You’ll recall all of the offseason turmoil at NBT Bank Stadium, where longtime front-office execs Tex and John Simone were removed as part of a ownership change, and new GM Jason Smorol heading a revamped front office. Though the team is winning and fans appreciate the higher energy levels at NBT Bank Stadium, that enthusiasm hasn’t translated into more ducats sold, as the team ranks last in attendance in all of Triple-A baseball, attracting 2,565 fans per game and 61,551 overall. Now, April and May are always tough for northern IL teams, and front-office folks tend to underestimate what it takes to bring back fickle fans. From Syracuse.com:
“It’s been kind of what we planned,” Smorol said. “We knew this was going to take some time. We have to change the culture — the hearts and minds, if you will. There’s a lot of baseball to be played and we’ve got a lot of promotions coming up. Once the season is over, we’ll see what the numbers are. We’ll see how many tickets we’ve sold. The answer will be at the end of a pencil.”
It’s been a funny turn of events around here. This community had protested the sleepy reign of the Simones by becoming thunderously indifferent to the Chiefs and their boring (and losing) ways. It demanded a fresh approach by management; meanwhile, it insisted that the club on the field, so long a cinder in the International League eye, become worthy of attention.
Well, look here. After decades of tedium, the Simones were excised last fall … Smorol and his wacky bunch are bringing dog-riding monkeys to town next week … and the first-place Chiefs, 18-8 at home, would be in the IL playoffs (for the first time in 16 campaigns, or since Terry Bevington was grumping around our burg in ’98) if the season ended today.
Who doesn’t love dog-riding monkeys? As we noted, turnarounds always take longer than people think. The elements are all there; patience is the watchword.
RELATED STORIES: New era for Chiefs off to rocky start; Sister: Simones mistreated by Chiefs; Housecleaning in Syracuse: Simone, board out; Chiefs behind on ballpark rent to Onondaga County; Mobley: Chiefs financial situation “needs a little attention”; More bad news out of Syracuse: Chiefs post $500K lost for 2013; Tex Simone retires as Syracuse Chiefs COO/EVP; Ennui in Syracuse
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