The 2017 season was one to remember for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Class AA; Eastern League). The New York Mets affiliate saw not only a change in name and logo, but also lots of ballpark improvements to enhance the game-day experience for players and fans alike.
It was Shakespeare’s Juliet who exclaimed what’s in a name? The Rumble Ponies found out by changing their name for the 2017 season. The team had fans submit suggestions before finally settling on the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The name has significance in more than one way to the community that’s known as the carousel capital of the world.
“The woman who submitted the name said that as a kid, she imagined the horses had come to life and rumbled off the carousel tracks,” said Director of Marketing and Promotions Eddie Saunders. “Then we did more research on the name and came across a book called The Carousel by Liz Rosenberg.”
The book happens to be about carousel horses who come to life, and a specific line stood out to the Rumble Ponies’ staff.
“There’s a line in the book that says the carousel horses sleep all winter and wake in the spring. We thought that’s exactly like Minor League Baseball,” Saunders said. “Then we found out that the author is a professor at Binghamton University, so the name seemed like a natural fit.”
Owner John Hughes said the community seemed unsure at first about the name.
“The fans went from apprehension to complete acceptance of the new name. Part of the reason the name was accepted was it overall impact,” Hughes said. “We explained how the name was chosen and how it was reflective of our community. We had a big push to make sure everyone knew the name’s tie-in with the community and they’ve embraced it.”
The new name also meant new logos and according to Hughes, a new way of thinking. “One thing we’ve talked about is that with the rebrand, it’s not just about changing our name or our logo. It’s about changing our way of thinking and our mindset in how we do things.”
A new mindset also meant brainstorming new areas and upgraded areas in the ballpark. Prior to the 2017 season, Binghamton undertook significant renovations to NYSEG Stadium, including a new right field entrance, an expanded fun zone, an updated merchandise store, rebuilt suites, new terrace seating, and a new party deck. They also added new lighting and a new batting tunnel. The front office agreed they are proud with how everything turned out.
“We were lucky enough to have so many people in the community help us during our ballpark improvements,” Hughes said. “We spent 84 percent of the budget locally and 94 percent of the supplies and building materials were made in the USA.”
While everything was ready to go on Opening Day, Mother Nature almost changed the team’s plans.
“A month before the season, a snowstorm hit Binghamton. It was in the top two or three storms and we got three feet of snow. The ballpark was under all that snow while we were making improvements,” Saunders said. “We had great workers who came out with snow blowers and shovels and worked as hard as they could to make sure we were still on time with all of the construction. It was close, but we still managed to finish before Opening Day.”
The community’s response to the upgrades has been largely positive, and the improvements seemed to have met a genuine need in the ballpark.
“The demand for the new group areas has been extraordinary,” said Assistant GM and Managing Director John Bayne. “I think fans were a little apprehensive to the new areas because they didn’t know what to expect. We focused on getting our message out there with things like mascot appearances and let people know what we have at the ballpark. So far, fans have been impressed at the improvements.”
And with all of the improvements, Hughes said the team was absolutely thrilled to get the icing on the cake.
“We want to continue to reinforce positive things in Binghamton and show everyone how great our community is, so we’re thrilled to host the 2020 Eastern League All-Star game,” Hughes said. “We came up with the Bing It Home campaign to host the game because it’s never been hosted in Binghamton before. We decided to throw a party before the announcement. If we got it, we would celebrate and if we didn’t, we would regroup and figure out ways to bring it here. Needless to say, we’re excited.”
With the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to start planning for next season and with the community’s support, Hughes said the future is bright.
“We’re continuing to evolve and move forward as an organization with its new identity. None of the transformations we’ve done here would have worked without the community’s support.”
Image of a snow-covered NYSEG Stadium courtesy Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
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