Salt Lake Bees ask their fans: Can we do lunch?
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack?
How about lunch?
That's what the Salt Lake Bees will be offering when they stage their "Lunch at the Ballpark" promotion Wednesday at noon at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
For 10 bucks, fans get a ticket that includes a hot dog, chips and a drink. For an extra $5, the Bees will throw in a burger, baked beans and a cookie.
Wednesday's game against the Tacoma Rainiers marks the second time the Bees have tried a midweek afternoon game this season. The first outing, against Colorado Springs last month, drew just over 4,000 fans. Salt Lake general manager Marc Amicone is trying to figure out if playing an occasional ballgame in the middle of the workday can flourish over the long term.
He was encouraged by the turnout for the May 30 game.
"It was kind of fun because we had guys coming from work, families showing up and kids playing hookey a little bit," said Amicone. "It's a nice change of pace."
Midweek afternoon baseball is commonplace in the major leagues, where early games are typically played when the home team starts a road trip the next day. Other minor league teams have jumped on the middle-of-week day games as well. The beauty of them, Amicone says, is that you don't have to devote the full afternoon to it.
"If they stay the whole game, that's great," he said. "If they come over for a couple hours or an hour or so, that works too. It's a nice place to come and have lunch. You can't go to lunch anymore for much less than that, honestly. Why not come sit through four innings of a ballgame and have lunch?"
Amicone noted that switching a few Wednesday night games to noon starts won't sacrifice much in the way of the gate receipts. The midweek night games traditionally draw smaller crowds, presenting a low-risk opportunity for the Bees to try and build a new following.
The numbers generally back him up. Salt Lake's first attempt at a noon start this season drew 4,180. The two night games sandwiching that afternoon contest, also against the Sky Sox, drew a comparable 4,288 and 6,129.
Not counting the Bees' annual 10 a.m. start for Prevention Dimensions Day an event that functions as a kids' field trip the team's last midweek day game prior to this season was in 2008.
Amicone said that the organization didn't make a concentrated effort to promote that game. This time around, he wants to give the idea a longer leash. Next year's schedule may include an additional day game in April early-season day games take advantage of friendlier weather as well as the May and June slots used this season. If the concept catches on, a sponsor could be attached to the event as well.
Still, the day games don't sit at the top of the Bees' priority list.
"We're gonna make people aware of this, but our major marketing efforts are still toward the weekend nights, Family Night on Mondays, and the fireworks nights," he said.
Earlier starts present a tougher turnaround for players. Many won't get home until around midnight after the previous night's game, giving them about an eight-hour break before they return to the ballpark.
"It takes a toll on your body, but as a player you still have to come out and give it 110 percent," said first baseman Efren Navarro.
But there's always the flip side players are free to enjoy dinner.
Tacoma at Salt Lake, Wednesday, 12:05 p.m.
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