The team's front office has been busy making plans all year long.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- If you think the front office staff of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers aren't busy all year long, you better think again.
While players are emptying their lockers in the fall, and the stadium is cleaned one final time before winter, the front office staff is just starting to lay the groundwork for this summer.
In addition to his multiple baseball duties, Scrappers General Manager Dave Smith squeezed in an important lifetime milestone last fall -- he got married last September.
"We try to get out as much as we can in the offseason to stay visible," Smith said.
"Our team's only here three months of the year playing but we want the Scrappers hopefully to be heard and seen and be involved in the community 12 months a year. So, that's really what our active focus is in the offseason."
Smith said the team establishes new promotions in their meetings and also tries to "get involved in the community -- rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs and community boards."
In addition, the team mascot, Scrappy, makes frequent appearances.
One part of Smith's duties is to sell tickets.
"Ticket sales are going excellent," Smith said. "We're well on pace to sell out opening day for this year. We've been promoting throughout this offseason that we've kept our ticket prices the same price as they've been in 1999. We haven't raised prices in eight seasons."
In a stadium that holds about 6,000 fans, they sell close to 1,000 full season tickets and about 500-600 mini-packages.
"We try to make this affordable and fun for the fans," Smith continued.
Repeat business is the key. Ticket sales are based on fun, atmosphere and baseball; the total experience brings the fans back. Smith also had an important hire in the spring, replacing the team's radio voice.
"We have a new radio broadcaster this year, Mike Pilch," Smith said.
"He brings some experience here and should be a nice addition to the staff."
Jim Riley, the assistant general manager of marketing of the Scrappers, personally spoke to 20-30 different groups in the past eight months, nearly one a week.
"We do probably 150 Scrappy appearances throughout the season," Riley said. "It's a year-round job as far as having a presence in the community."
Riley handles several of the game-day promotions.
This year Sundays are kids day with a different entertainer.
"We're going to have a carnival-like atmosphere; we're going to have a guy on stilts, we're going to have face painters," Riley said.
He's also planning a Napoleon Dynamite evening where an actor from the movie will make an appearance.
There's a T-shirt/hot dog canon and a new 22-foot high inflatable slide in the Kidszone.
While Riley has a lot of fun activities planned during the games, Smith has welcomed the Scrappers newest top fan to his immediate family.
"In September I married Alyson," Smith said. "I've known her since 2000 since I got to town here. We're still going through the newlywed stage."