As the organization prepares to host the Carolina League All-Star Game, the Salem Red Sox (High A; Carolina League) are expressing optimism about the future.
Slated for tonight, the All-Star Game will give many a chance to take in a game at Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark. The ballpark has a long track record in the Carolina League, first opening for the then Salem Avalanche in 1995. The timing of this year’s game is also coinciding with a significant milestone for the Red Sox franchise, as it is celebrating its 50th season as a member of the Carolina League.
As club officials prepare for tonight’s game, they point to not only the longevity of the franchise but, signs of what it believes will be a strong future. Season ticket sales have increase over the last few seasons, and attendance figures over the first half of the 2017 season were up from the same period in 2016. That reflects significant progress that both Boston Red Sox executive vice president and chief financial officer Tim Zue and Salem Red Sox president and general manager Ryan Shelton believe can be showcased during the All-Star Game festivities. More from The Roanoke Times:
The Sox averaged 3,092 fans per game in the first half this season, up “significantly” from this point last year, Shelton said. That figure ranks fifth in the league.
“We’ve seen incredible growth,” Zue said. “Season tickets, for example, are five times what they were in 2013. Not a lot of franchises are able to show that type of growth. I think that’s a testament not only to the work that we’ve done reaching out to fans, but the commitment of the fans to the team.”
And as the Sox spend a week celebrating their history, they hope to make a good impression on out-of-town fans visiting for the all-star game.
“It’s a great chance to showcase the city, the organization itself,” Shelton said. “It’s a nice chance to really be able to showcase what we’ve done here in getting this organization in a good place.”
Haley Toyota Field did receive some changes leading up to this season, including the installation of a new videoboard. Our own Jarah Wright has visited the facility, and noted that its fan-friendly atmosphere helps to set it apart from other ballparks.