Ryan Gates spoke last Wednesday at the Travel Information Center of Visit Lorain County. Here’s a sum-up of what he had to say:
The Frontier League is an independent league that’s spread out over the Midwest, and was formed in 1993. There are teams from as far north as Michigan; west as Missouri and Illinois, south from Kentucky and east from Pennsylvania. The teams are not affiliated with any professional teams. Players with the Crushers and other league teams come from a couple of different backgrounds. Some players played college ball, were successful in college, but, for whatever reason, were not recommended by the scouts, so they’ve turned to the independent league for another chance to shine.
There are players that were part of minor league baseball that were affiliated with teams like the Yankees, A’s, Mariners and Blue Jays, but due to injuries or not progressing quickly enough, or being passed over, never got a chance to shine. So, they turn to the independent leagues for a chance to play every day, to hopefully draw the attention of a major league team again.
Players salaries are much different than that of the majors. The entire 24-man roster will make $80,000 for the summer. Some of the players make the maximum of $1600 per month; the rookies will make $600 per month. So, it’s apparent these guys aren’t in it for the money. They’re here to hustle and play hard, and “hopefully get that last shot at professional baseball.”
The Crushers have signed 27 players, some from Florida and California, some locals. The maximum age on the team is 27years old. In baseball years, 27 is “getting up there.” The team’s manager has had great success on the field.
The ballpark will be ready on June 2nd. People driving by have seen the ‘bubble’ that’s been erected so the workers can continue with the inside work at the park. The bubble will come down within 3 weeks, and people will be able to see the inside. The field will be artificial turf. The chairs will be in next week, and will need to be installed individually. The most important things will be ready, they have to be. The dirt is a special polymer-clay that will wick the dirt away, helping with the drainage.
Besides the regular baseball games, they want to bring other events to the stadium. They want this to be about Lorain County, and not just Avon. Hopefully, there will be some draw from Cuyahoga County, as well. With the turf, there can be concerts, car shows, other baseball events, little league and high school games; you name it, they have the ability to host it down on the field. They can even host a football game down on the field.
There are 3,000 fixed seats inside the park. General admission seating will be on the hill in left field, bring a blanket and take in the game. There are 11 luxury suites that will be leased out on an annual basis. There is a club level, and people can purchase club level seats near the bases. There will be a picnic area, along the 3rd base side that will accommodate up to 400 people, that will feature an all-you-can-eat buffet. All said and done, the ballpark can host up to 5,000 people.
The general admission seats are $6 apiece. In the seating bowl, 2600 of the 3,000 seats will be $9 each, allowing them to provide 4,000+ tickets for under $10 apiece. Concessions will be affordable: hot dogs in the $2.50 – $3 range; beers at $4.50 – $5 maximum. There will be Specials nights, with Thursdays being “$1 drafts/$1 soft drinks”, Mondays will be “$1 hot dogs”. There will be promotional things at the ballpark, Fridays will be Fireworks Nights; Saturdays there will be giveaways and special appearances. There will be special days and discounts on foods, tickets. It will be an event at the ballpark this summer.
People say that baseball is just not “my thing”. There will be people that come down and won’t know the score at the end of the game, he guarantees it. Some folks that won’t know who won, and that’s OK. But everyone will remember that they saw their neighbors, friends and co-workers, their family, and that’s what this project is all about. Such a small stadium with such an intimate setting. It will allow you to interact with people, and it becomes a social atmosphere each night, which is what they’re looking to create this summer at the ballpark.
On Wednesday, May 13th, All Pro Freight will host a ‘Sneak Peek’ for the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce at the ballpark. Parking will be at All Pro Freight, just down the street, and shuttles will convey people over 10-12 at a time, and have mini-tours running at the ballpark. Information will be going out soon.