As they play their inaugural season, the New Britain Bees (independent; Atlantic League) are finding a niche among baseball fans in New Britain.
Through their first 32 openings, the Bees have drawn a total of 95,528 fans, which averages out to more than 2,900 spectators per game. When the Bees arrived, they were to compete for fans in the Greater Hartford area with their predecessors at New Britain Stadium, the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League) who were moving into a new downtown Hartford ballpark and rebranding as the Hartford Yard Goats.
Obviously things have not gone according to plan in Hartford, where delays to the completion of Dunkin’ Donuts Park have forced the Yard Goats to split their home schedule among fellow Eastern League ballparks and Norwich’s Dodd Stadium. That has left the Bees as the only professional team in the Greater Hartford Area, and general manager Patrick Day feels that they will continue to draw solid numbers even after the Yard Goats arrive in Hartford. More from the Hartford Courant:
“What we did to get this place opened on April 21 was miraculous,” Day said. “We arrived on Jan. 4 and had our first office over at City Hall. We hired an entire front office staff and started to get people in here by the middle of February. We didn’t even get to move in to the ballpark until early in February. So think about the timing we were working with to build a franchise. It’s pretty remarkable. And we’re just starting to hit our stride right now.
“There is something to be said about being open, we’re selling food, we have picnics and a refurbished suite level. We delivered on absolutely everything we told the market that we would do when we first came to town.”
One thing the Bees have going for them is a very experienced front office. Day arrived in New Britain after stops as a general manager with the Lansing Lugnuts (Low A; Midwest League) and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (independent; Atlantic League), while the team also features former Rock Cats president and CEO Bill Dowling as a special advisor.
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