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Kalamazoo off to strong start in summer-collegiate ball

Kalamazoo GrowlersFresh off setting a league record for the largest attendance total in a debut game, the Kalamazoo Growlers (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) are off to a strong start, as baseball returns to Homer Stryker Field.

As you’ll recall, Stryker Field was home to independent Frontier League teams for several years, then sat empty after Kalamazoo Kings ownership left the market in 2010. After receiving a proposal from the Northwoods League, a lease was struck, and the Growlers were born. The expansion of the Northwoods League into Kalamazoo made sense: it added a second Michigan team to ease travel issues after the Battle Creek Bombers entered the circuit, and Kalamazoo is regarded as being a decent market when it comes to summer-collegiate ball.

So far this season has been a success for the Growlers: after a crowd last night of 2,684 and a season-opening crowd of 4,910, the team has attracted 12,588 fans in five games, for an average of 2,518 per opening. Part of the reason for the early-season success: promotions dreamed up by team president Brian Colopy:

Colopy drew national attention in Battle Creek for crazy food creations like Twinkie hot dogs and he seems to be ahead of pace in Kalamazoo as the Growlers have unveiled a bear claw burger featuring a half-pound burger topped with pulled pork, macaroni and cheese and coleslaw between two Sweetwater’s Donut Mill bear claw donuts, as well as a Salute To Selfie Night this season during which Kalamazoo players will wear jerseys covered in photos of fans from social media.

“We haven’t thrown our first pitch and we have 6,000 fans on Facebook,” he said. “We haven’t thrown our first pitch and we have national attention from the MLB Network and Good Morning America for our selfie jersey and we’re on all these other outlets for our bear claw burger.”

The Growlers’ promotion schedule goes well beyond dizzy bat races and rally towels. Fireworks are a regular on the home weekend schedule. They will also give away bobbleheads of former league stars, including Max Scherzer, as well as replica jerseys and other items. As for on-field entertainment, look for June 19 to be a highlight, with monkeys riding dogs herding sheep.

RELATED STORIES: Kalamazoo to prep selfie unis this summer; New for 2014: Kalamazoo Growlers; It’s official: Northwoods League to Kalamazoo in 2014; Kalamazoo, Northwoods League agree on Stryker Field lease; Kalamazoo, Northwoods League negotiating Homer Stryker Field lease;Northwoods League extends B.C. lease, eyes Kalamazoo


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