Salt Lake Bees: Die-hard fans help make Bees a success
Marc Amicone, the long-time vice president and general manager of the Salt Lake Bees, knows his audience.
He understands the majority of fans who flock to Smith’s Ballpark every summer probably don’t understand the infield-fly rule.
A walk? A walk-off?
What’s the difference?
"In minor league baseball," Amicone says, "they are the biggest chunk of your ticket-holders. The biggest group we have is the casual fan — the one who comes out to a couple of games a year."
There are exceptions, however.
The Bees sell about 1,400 season tickets, according to Amicone. Within that core is a sub-culture of rabid fans who love baseball, closely follow the players, savor the victories and are a little disappointed on the drive home after defeats.
Pacific Coast League attendance, through Monday night:
Team Games Total Average
Round Rock Express 43 352,040 8,187
Sacramento River Cats 47 380,272 8,091
Albuquerque Isotopes 44 349,699 7,948
El Paso Chihuahuas 43 329,894 7,672
Fresno Grizzlies 42 278,002 6,619
Oklahoma City RedHawks 44 275,734 6,267
Iowa Cubs 47 290,129 6,173
Memphis Redbirds 44 264,187 6,004
Salt Lake Bees 43 256,171 5,957
Omaha Storm Chasers 42 214,505 5,107
New Orleans Zephyrs 43 217,211 5,051
Reno Aces 48 238,921 4,978
Colorado Springs Sky Sox 46 222,630 4,840
Las Vegas 51s 48 227,764 4,745
Nashville Sounds 46 200,327 4,355
Tacoma Rainiers 41 162,749 3,969
These die-hards attend every night — rain or shine, freezing cold or searing heat — despite every weather-related curveball Mother Nature throws at them.
"The hard-core fan is very important to us," Amicone said. "They give you that consistency. You know they are going to be there [despite] the weather or if the team is struggling. They’re a solid group you know is coming to watch a baseball game. … You have to have them in this business."
Anita Tsuchiya is a former competitive athlete and sports administrator who has been a season ticket-holder since 1998.
After moving from Seattle to Salt Lake a year earlier, she found herself looking for something to do in her spare time, since she no longer lived close to family members or friends.
"I started coming to these games," she said, "and it was like, ‘Wow.’ ... Some people like night clubs. I like baseball."
Tsuchiya, a personal trainer, sits just beyond the Bees’ dugout. She is two rows up the from the field. From her vantage point, she’s in excellent position to study the game, which is what fascinates her about it.
"You can look at baseball two ways — one as entertainment and one as an athletic event," she explained. "For me, it’s more about the athletes — developing athletes. And that’s what the minor league baseball is all about. ... I like look at how athletes try to figure things out. How they work the count. How they adjust to a curve ball. The strategy [managers] use. Things like that."
Robert Church and his wife, Brittany, are proud members of the I-Don’t-Miss-a-Game Club that is so important to the success of the Bees. They sit in the same place — Section 9, Row 19, Seats 1 and 2 — every night Amicone opens the gates.
"Baseball is the purest sport around," Church said. "It doesn’t end in a tie. There is no time limit on it. It’s sport made right."