With its fourth season of play approaching, the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League remains on solid footing, thanks to success at Utica, MI’s Jimmy John’s Field.
Launched in 2016 by experienced sports executive Andy Appleby, the USPBL initially fielded three teams at Jimmy John’s Field, providing a unique model. The league’s launch coincided with the ballpark’s opening and both been a success since, as the USPBL has included four teams since 2017 while Jimmy John’s Field has been noted for providing a solid fan experience.
Entering season four, the USPBL is looking to continue its momentum. The addition of former major league infielder Mariano Duncan as an assistant manger for the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers brings a big name into the fold, while the concessions lineup at Jimmy John’s Field has been revamped, and new promotions are in the works. Thus far, the league has been a profitable venture, and Appleby plans to continue refining the fan experience at Jimmy John’s Field. More from Crain’s Detroit Business:
“We’ve been profitable every single year. We have to be. We have to pay back an $18 million ballpark,” he said….
“We have to continually add value, especially in a situation like ours where we’re not going to have the World Series or Miguel Cabrera playing in our ballpark. We have to do all the little things right,” he said. “We’ve not only done that, but the biggest thing with me is we just continue to improve. We have a lot of cool things, but now we’re creating a little bit of nuanced improvement. The promotions are better and better and better.”
The league has the usual range of extras such as fireworks, bands, giveaways, theme nights and discounts. This season’s new promotions include the “Mutts Gone Nuts” dog act and a “Faith Night” featuring former Tigers player Andy Dirks and ex-Lions kicker Eddie Murray. New at concession stands will be ribeye, shredded brisket, pulled pork, and an all-chicken menu at a new stand, the New Belgium Top Fry stand, cinnamon sugar pretzel bites with cream cheese frosting, new beers including Stella Artois and Labatt, and slushies.
“We have really refined the ballpark and the ballpark experience,” Appleby said.
The USPBL’s 2019 regular season gets underway on May 10, and will run through September 1. Playoff action will follow over the weekend of September 6-8.