With everything about the 2020 MiLB season up in the air, teams are finding ways to confront the coronavirus pandemic with expanded offerings and new charitable efforts in the absence of regular-season games in April.
It seems like a lifetime ago since the Minor League Baseball was delayed, but remember that the season was not scheduled to open until next week in any case. With no firm information on a start date that ultimately is dependent on when MLB launches play and an American commerce system essentially on hold, MILB teams are in a wait-and-see status.
Some teams are launching curbside concessions, taking advantage of idled commissaries. RS3 Strategic Hospitality, the Austin-based concessions firm owned by Ryan-Sanders Baseball, is operating food services out of Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Offered at the Dell Diamond are both prepared meals off a full ballpark-food menu (nachos, wings, burgers, chili cheese dogs) available daily between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., as well as the sale of Family Meal Kits (priced at $162.36), which include several grocery staples plus five full-meals with four to five servings in each meal and cooking/reheating instructions. There are several iterations of a meal kit offered for pickup on April 6 (deadline for orders: April 2), including those built around Nolan Ryan Beef hot dogs and burgers. You can find more information here.
RS3 Strategic Hospitality partner Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League) are also offering drive-up food service at Blue Wahoos Stadium during lunch and dinner. Familiar ballpark staples are available for order and pickup, as well as family-sized meals serving four for dinner. You can find more information here.
Also offering “Smokies Curbside Concessions”: the Tennessee Smokies (Class AA; Southern League), offering ballpark treats for curbside pickup from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. “We created ‘Smokies Curbside Concessions’ to aid families who would like a hassle-free meal during these difficult times,” said Boyd Sports Director of Food & Beverage Chris Franklin. “We might not be playing ball games right now, but we can still make an impact in our community.”
Menu options include hot dogs, hamburgers, breaded pork tenderloins, Italian beef, Stouffers Mac & Cheese, Bush’s Baked Beans, and many other mains dishes and sides. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance. You can find more information here.
The Louisville Bats (Class AAA; International League) aren’t offering takeout at Louisville Slugger Field, but they are working to promote area restaurants that do offer curbside delivery. In partnership with AR vendor Imagination Park Technologies, “Buddy’s Curbside Pick Up” offers customers a chance to win a variety of Louisville Bats prizes by ordering curbside pickup from a participating restaurant and sharing a picture of your trip on social media with a special hashtag.
“The Louisville Bats are committed to helping our community and local restaurants in these challenging times,” said Bats president Vic Gregovits. “We partnered with Imagination Park to offer a unique experience that gives fans the chance to win great prizes, and in-turn, support our valuable local restaurant partners.”
Bats partners will have exclusive sponsored Mascot AR engagements at their food pick-up locations. When fans place a carry-out order for any of the participating restaurants, they can use their mobile phones at the curbside pick-up location to enjoy the unique Bat’s AR Model e-collectible and share the picture on social media with #CurbsideBuddy.
Each fan who posts a Buddy Bat AR photo with #CurbsideBuddy on social media will be entered to win a variety of Louisville Bats prizes, including tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences. You can see more about the program here.
On the Charitable Front
The Akron RubberDucks (Class AA; Eastern League) have launched QuAkron Cares Program in coordination with United Way of Summit County and the City of Akron. Fans who donate to the Akron-Summit County COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund will receive two (2) undated 2020 vouchers.
Included in each $10 purchase with the Quakron Cares Program is a $5 donation towards the Akron-Summit County COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund as well as two (2) undated vouchers. This package is now available at the RubberDucks online team store.
“We know this is a difficult time for many around Northeast Ohio, but we are excited and proud to help those in need with this donation package,” said RubberDucks General Manager Jim Pfander. “We are proud to support the hard work of the City of Akron and the Akron-Summit County COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund. We hope these packages will help during this crisis as well as offer a way to celebrate our community when we play baseball again.”
Also launching a charity program is Akron’s sister team, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Class AA; Southern League). The HERO Program encourages for contributions to COVID-19 relief while giving themselves a chance to win a 2021 trip to Miami Marlins Spring Training.
The HERO Program (Helping Everyone Recover and Overcome) offers fans two undated ticket vouchers to the Jumbo Shrimp’s 2020 season for $10. Each set of vouchers purchased also automatically registers fans into a contest to win a trip to Spring Training in 2021 with the Miami Marlins, the parent club of the Jumbo Shrimp. Half of all proceeds will be contributed to the First Coast Relief Fund as aid to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our role in the Jacksonville community is to provide Affordable Family Fun at 121 Financial Ballpark, but more importantly, to be a leader in positively impacting Duval County, Northeast Florida and their surrounding areas,” said Jumbo Shrimp executive vice president/general manager Harold Craw. “We aspire to return the passion, loyalty and support our fans have given us as we try to navigate through the COVID-19 situation.”
To purchase a ticket pack from the HERO Program, fans can visit jaxshrimp.com or email the Jumbo Shrimp at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here to receive ballpark news three times a week in your inbox!
With hourly news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’re launching a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge. Sign up here.
RELATED STORIES: MLB to pay MiLB player wages through May; Nats/Astros spring camp closed, will be used for drive-up coronavirus testing; Layoffs, furloughs come for Memphis Redbirds; Fanatics shifts jersey production to personal protective equipment; MLB, MLBPA reach agreement on 2020 season details; Happy Opening Day–at home; Could we see a second spring training this year?; Doubleheaders May Be on the Docket at Start of MLB Season; MLB to Pay MiLB Players Spring Training Per Diems; MLB, MLBPA Negotiating Service Time, Draft; Truist Grant Extends Relief to MLB, MiLB Game-Day Workers; MiLB Teams Lose Non-Gameday Events Amidst Pandemic; Ballpark Parking Lots Could Help During Coronavirus Pandemic; MLB Teams Donate $30M Toward Game-Day Employees; Sandy Alderson: MLB Needs to Enter Total Shutdown; It’s Official: Don’t Look for MLB Until Memorial Day; MLB Teams Order Non-Roster Players Home, Shut Down Workouts; More MLB Teams Announce Plans to Aid Game-Day Employees; Telecommuting in Baseball’s Front Offices the New Reality; MLB, MiLB Season Openers Could Be Delayed to May; Surprise! Spring Training’s Canceled. What’s Next?; MLB Season Delayed For Two Weeks, MiLB Season Indefinitely