That the Flying Squirrels lead the Eastern League in attendance despite playing at a subpar ballpark says a lot about how the team markets and promotes game. It also says a lot about the health of the Richmond market: despite an old ballpark with a lack of high-end group and luxury spaces, the Flying Squirrels are a huge draw.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John O’Connor took a look at this phenomenon in a year-end review of the team’s performance at the box office, noting that the team is already planning more improvements for the 2016 season. By the way, 2016 is important for another reason: it’s a mayoral election year in Richmond, and the Flying Squirrels may have a better shot for a new ballpark with a new mayor. From O’Connor’s article:
During one of Harrisburg’s visits to The Diamond this year, Senators’ manager Brian Daubach said Richmond had “the best atmosphere” in the Eastern League. There is crowd-provided energy in virtually all EL stadiums on weekends, Daubach said, but Richmond is the only EL ballpark that consistently has that energy during early- and mid-week games, too….
“I think the team is viewed as being extremely well run. They’re getting a lot out of that market despite a ballpark that’s kind of crumbling,” said Kevin Reichard, publisher and editor of BallparkDigest.com, a baseball industry source since 2003.
Reichard added that Chuck Domino, the Squirrels’ chief executive, and Todd Parnell, the team’s vice president/COO/GM “are obviously two of the very well-respected people in all of minor league baseball. I think there’s a sense that the team is outperforming the market in the ballpark as it stands right now.”
RELATED STORIES: Flying Squirrels ballpark breakthrough announced; DiBella to Richmond: Time for a ballpark plan; Richmond ballpark solution stalled; will counties help?; Will 2015 finally see Richmond ballpark solution?; Flying Squirrels announce ballpark upgrades; Flying Squirrels at The Diamond for two more years; McEacharn: Lots of “frustration” with Richmond ballpark situation; Flying Squirrels ballpark plan on hold; Richmond ballpark plan lacks council support;