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Teams find alternative uses for ballparks as entertainment venues

Jackie Robinson Ballpark movie

With no baseball on the field, we’re seeing ballparks used for other forms of entertainment, as the Texas Rangers, Lehigh Valley IronPigsDaytona Tortugas and Madison Mallards present different forms of entertainment instead of hardball.

We’ve already seen some teams successful flip the script on the coronavirus pandemic by providing entertainment at the ballpark without requiring fans to leave their seats. The Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have held two successful fireworks nights at Werner Park, drawing almost 5,000 fans per night to the ballpark parking lot to view pyrotechnics and, in the case of the second event, honor graduating high-school seniors.

Similarly, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League) are hosting a Drive-In Fireworks show on Memorial Day weekend. “This has been a time where everyone in the Lehigh Valley is looking for ways to still have fun while responsibly staying safe,” said IronPigs President and General Manager Kurt Landes. “Our goals remain the same, to support our community and entertain our fans.” Fans will watch the fireworks from their vehicles, and tickets ($10/vehicle) must be purchased online only prior to attending. There will be no concessions or restrooms available, and Coca-Cola Park gates will be closed.

The Texas Rangers are promoting the Quiktrip Concert in Your Car series on June 4-7 performing live outside the new Globe Life Field. Fans will enter the Tundra lot and watch the performances from their cars, observing social distancing while still being part of a live event. The artists will perform directly in front of fans on a stage in the parking lot, complete with jumbo screens to ensure all attendees have a great view of the bands. Concert audio will be available through a specially designated FM radio channel.

“We are eager to once again start providing entertainment to our fans and to be able to offer the experience in a way that takes into account health and safety guidelines,” said Rangers Executive Vice President, Sports & Entertainment Sean Decker. “We have a full slate of bands, and each will present an exciting show every night.”

Ticket sales (at $40 per vehicle, or $80 per vehicle with a guaranteed ) were so strong that the Rangers added a 5 p.m. show to the previously scheduled 9 p.m. shows. The original show times sold out in minutes after the public on-sale.  Eli Young Band will open the Concert in Your Car series on Thursday, June 4, followed by Whiskey Myers on June 5, Pat Green on June 6, and Josh Abbott Band & Kevin Fowler on June 7.

Each show date requires a ticket specific to that event. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation to support their ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts.

The Daytona Tortugas (High A; Florida State League) are hosting a Movie Night at The Jack, with 42 played on the big screen at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Fans will be allowed into the ballpark, with fans limited to reserved spots on the field (as shown above). The show will start at 7:42 with limited spaces available.

The Madison Mallards (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) will convert Warner Park into the Duck Pond Drive-In, with movies shown on the ballpark big screen and audio will be sent via FM transmitter on May 20 through May 26. In a twist, fans will be allowed to drive into the ballpark and park in assigned spots. A menu of pre-packaged ballpark classics like popcorn and candy, along with a variety of canned beer, wine and pop will be available for touchless purchasing on-site. No cash transactions will be accepted.

“As we enter our 20th summer in Madison, we’re getting an opportunity to do exactly what we’ve always done, which is finding creative ways to bring our community together through entertainment,” said Mallards President Vern Stenman. “This isn’t exactly how we drew it up, but we’re excited to work with the City of Madison to offer this unique experience for the community.”

The Mallards are putting extensive new employee protocols in place to ensure fan and staff safety, from requiring face masks and gloves to extensive sanitization training and providing sanitizing stations throughout the facility.

Tickets are limited and are for sale on a per-car basis for $40, in advance of the show only. The ballpark will be limited to about 100 vehicles per show. Showtimes and tickets can be found at

There’s one more fascinating use of an empty ballpark on tap in Pensacola. We’ll be posting a separate story about it shortly.

With daily 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 launched a 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 to industry professionals. Sign up here.

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