Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 22

Major fun in the minor
(and wood-bat) leagues
And why the fun is more vital than ever
G
ISTOCK.COM / WWIN

S

BY LESLIE MOSES

avannah Bananas owner Jesse Cole had a crazy
idea: Swap the team's first-base coach with a
break dancer and play Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
"You can imagine the reaction from the crowd,"
says Bananas President Jared Orton. "We're literally
starting to interrupt the game."
The Bananas are an entertainment business with
a baseball team, leaders say. But record-breaking
attendance for the Coastal Plain League, a wood-bat
collegiate summer league, can be chalked up to nearnonstop entertainment. A 15-piece pep band greets
fans, staff members sing while serving peanuts and
boot-scooting senior citizens dance as "Banana Nanas."
"Now there are baseball purists out there who
might not get all the antics," Orton says.
But times have changed, and teams' financial success depends on entertainment. Research-six years of
22

Above: Fans pack Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, the home park of
the Gwinnett Stripers (formerly Braves), for last year's July 4 game.
The Gwinnett team saw a boost in fan enthusiasm after it announced
a name change to differentiate it from the Atlanta Braves. The teams
share the same metro Atlanta market. Right: Chopper, the Gwinnett
mascot, greets young fans during Kids Run the Bases, a tradition
after each Sunday home game.

study by Pennsylvania-based professors Chip D. Baumgardner and Michael J. Gallagher-shows it's critical for
minor league and independent baseball teams to offer
promotional activities at many games if they want to
stay afloat financially.
Teams must remain competitive among a burgeoning number of entertainment options and stand out
among more and more minor league clubs.

More online at www.georgiamagazine.org

GEORGIA MAGAZINE


http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 11
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 12
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 13
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 14
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 15
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 16
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 17
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 18
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 19
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover4
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