Ogden » Near the end of Sunday night's game between the Ogden Raptors and the Casper Ghosts at Lindquist Field, Pam Sorensen reached into her purse and her hand fell on five general admission tickets for future Raptors games.
Sorensen and her husband, Roger, are both season-ticket holders and have little use for these tickets. However, Pam Sorensen said that she keeps a huge stack of general admission tickets at their home in Brigham City, with hopes of giving them away.
Thanks to Raptors owner and president Dave Baggott, Roger and Pam Sorensen will have even more tickets to give away in the weeks to come.
After all, Baggott himself has plenty of tickets to give away. His quota: 1 million.
The Raptors' giveaway of 1 million general admission tickets for 34 of their 38 home games through local McDonald's restaurants, considered to be the first such promotion of its kind in professional baseball, adds another innovative promotion to the portfolio of Baggott, who has gained a reputation as a guru of eccentric promotions and marketing. Baggott's lively imagination has paid dividends for the Raptors, who have led the Pioneer League in attendance for nine consecutive years.
However, this latest Baggott brainchild serves to help fans endure a difficult economic recession, not simply to entertain them.
"What better way to show the community that we're sensitive to what is perceived as a down economic turn right now?" said Baggott, who doubles as the team's public address announcer. "We put together a million tickets, where fans can come to the ballpark for 34 of the 38 home games absolutely on us. In other words, we're telling you that when you're sitting at home trying to figure out where to spend your hard-earned dollars on entertainment, you can cross us off the list, because we've got you covered."
Lindquist Field has a seating capacity of 6,700, making it impossible that it would come anywhere close to holding 1 million people for a single season. However, with 1 million free general admission tickets available at McDonald's restaurants from Centerville to Brigham City and patrons able to practically take as many as they want, there will be no shortage of opportunities for fans to gain free admission to the ballpark.
Ogden, the Pioneer League affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, fell, 5-2, to Casper in its fourth home game of the season, but fans, who came by in the droves with their free general admission tickets, at least got to see the action for free.
"For [management] to come out and do that this year, I thought it was amazing," Pam Sorensen said. "Everybody I know has these McDonald's tickets; they're using them."
An added stipulation is that fans can upgrade the general admission tickets to reserve box seats for $5. Those who choose to upgrade their seats receive a $2.50 discount off food purchases for that night at Lindquist Field. The ballclub also makes it easier on the wallet by giving every child under 12 a free hot dog, drink, cookie and bag of chips at each Sunday game.
"Part of it is the way our ownership views being the local baseball team. It's our duty to offer games to the community," Raptors vice president John Stein said. "It might sound like free doesn't work, but empty seats never bought a hot dog and a soda, either."
This isn't to say that Baggott has stopped thinking of new promotions geared toward entertainment. Considering some of his most memorable promotions, he'll have some hard acts to top.
Fans still laugh when reminiscing about "Bassackwards Night" in 2007, when players wore uniforms with the team's name and numbers displayed backward and the game was played from the ninth inning to the national anthem. Few will forget "International Olympic Committee Bribery Night" of 2000, which highlighted the bribery scandal of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and had fans writing lies on sheets of paper for free tickets and a shot at season tickets for 2000 and 2002.
Baggott said that the ballclub might consider paying tribute to recently deceased pop music icon Michael Jackson and television pitchman Billy Mays. But until then, Baggott will drive attendance and interest by giving fans some economic relief.
"Everything that we read in the news today is all doom and gloom," he said. "What we're saying is that it's all right to come out to the ballpark, forget your worries for three hours, let your hair down, have a bag of peanuts and soda and forget about life for a while. And maybe watch a victory."
The Raptors are giving away 1 million general admission tickets for 34 of their 38 home games through local McDonald's restaurants (from Clearfield to Brigham City).
Lindquist Field, which seats 6,700 people, is located in the heart of downtown Ogden.
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