Mud Hens go retro with quirky promotionsWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Every self-respecting baseball executive knows that promotions are part of the game, a necessary lifeblood in order to sell tickets.
Thankfully, an offbeat nickname like the Mud Hens lends itself perfectly to sensible silliness, and the team’s upcoming promotional calendar will not disappoint the inner child in anyone.
“We focus on all of the opportunities during the game to entertain the fan,” said Mike Keedy, Toledo Mud Hens manager of special events. “And we always try to keep that fresh, and to be unique.”
So, can we expect bat days and dollar dogs in 2015? Please, that’s amateur night. These days it takes dinosaurs, time travel and yolk-covered uniforms to raise the promotional bar.
“‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Back to the Future’ are probably our two biggest theme nights,” Keedy said.
During those games on June 6 and July 11, respectively, fans will see their home team dressed in movie-specific jerseys, which attendees can bid on during an in-game silent auction. Guests will also enjoy movie-themed food and drinks.
At “Back to the Future” night — which also happens to be a doubleheader — the first game will feature ’80s music, themed scoreboard graphics and an overall old-school experience, while the second will transport fans into how the Hens might look decades from now, no DeLorean required.
But perhaps its most innovate night will involve some teamwork with the opposition. That’s because frying pans are set for “Bacon & Eggs Night” on Aug. 6, where the visiting Lehigh Valley IronPigs will sport their nationally recognized bacon-themed jerseys, accompanied by what else — a new Hens egg-centric uniform.
Even the IronPigs’ front office can’t wait to see bacon facing eggs in, say, a force-out at second.
“I think [the fans] are going to laugh and get a kick out of it,” said Lindsey Knupp, IronPigs director of promotions and entertainment, who was approached by the Hens about the theme night collaboration. She agreed, figuring the Pigs-bacon vs. Hens-egg connection was too good to pass up.
“It makes too good of sense,” she said.
If looking at nearly edible uniforms wasn’t enough, your taste buds can do something about it at two food-centered specialty events this season.
One hot ticket will be the Taste of Fifth Third Field on May 8, when fans can sample featured dishes from around the stadium.
Then on July 10, the Hens are elevating the classic ballpark hot dog to a place of prominence it has never known.
“Fans can make their own [hot dog] creation with over 50 different toppings, and several different buns,” Keedy said. “The cool thing is that you can then submit your recipe, and if it wins, it will be on the menu at games next year.”
The team also unveiled new peanut-free sections for two games in April — a small step toward possible stadium-wide peanut-free games in the future.
“That hasn’t been done here,” Keedy said. “As you can imagine, logistically, it’s a difficult thing to do. So far the feedback has been great. We’ve had a lot of requests from fans.”
Speaking of Hens supporters, Keedy said they’re the ones who help shape the team’s promotional lineup each year, as every offseason it solicits requests for what fans would like to see.
“We’ve had hundreds of ideas [from fans], and if anybody ever wonders if we look at it, we absolutely do,.
“It’s all a part of immersing yourself in the community,” he said.
The 2015 promotional lineup also includes a dose of still-admired bobbleheads, “Star Wars” night, scout sleepovers and the ever-popular postgame fireworks.
To view a complete list, visit mudhens.com and click on “Tickets & Promotions.”