We’ve Come a Long Way
This morning, Steve Batterson of the Quad-City Times dropped by the ballpark to interview me for his “Getting to Know” feature for the paper. Every Wednesday, readers of the Times can “get to know” a different River Bandits personality through the weekly feature.
As Steve and I were chatting, one of his questions got me thinking about all of the changes that have gone on here over the last two years. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. It can be an amazing thing to take a step back and look at how far we’ve come.
Some of you already know that I was the only full-time staff member retained through the ownership transition following the 2007 season. It sounds crazy, but the five years I’ve been with the club is considered a relatively long stay in this business.
Prior to the ownership change, working for the Swing of the Quad Cities wasn’t exactly the most sought-after job in the business. Attendance was down, the community had a poor perception of our operation, the front office experienced high turnover every off-season, and… well… you all saw the jerseys our players had to wear.
Through it all, however, it was clear that baseball could thrive in this market. What was so frustrating was that we did not have the opportunity to work towards that goal. It was a stagnant operation.
That all changed in 2007, when Main Street Iowa purchased the franchise from the previous owner, Seventh Inning Stretch.
Suddenly, wild ideas for outlandish promotions were welcome. Customer service was emphasized as a critical element to bringing the fans back. Resources were devoted to enhancing the fan experience through ballpark additions, zany promotions, and an improved production department.
It’s hard to believe that in only two seasons since the ownership change, total attendance has surged from 148,773 in 2007 to 222,858 and counting this year. When all is said and done, it will be an increase of nearly 100,000 fans per season in just two years. All you have to is look around the ballpark and you’ll need more than two hands to count all of the fantastic additions to an already beautiful facility in Modern Woodmen Park. And, best of all, fans are proud be boast the River Bandits as their hometown team again. I see people wearing Bandits hats and shirts all the time when I’m out in public. People hear that I work for the River Bandits and immediately begin rapid-firing questions about what its like to work for the club.
Things have come a long way over the past two years. And I’m proud to say that I was a part of it.