FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne TinCaps’ 2023 season is underway this week and the team’s first game at Parkview Field is on April 11.
For this season, the TinCaps plan to offer more in-game promotions for fans which includes postgame autographs where fans get to meet the players on the field, Family Feast nights where select concession items only cost $2 and more postgame fireworks nights.
This year is going to feel a lot more like normal for the TinCaps. Michael Limmer, vice president of marketing and promotions for the team, said 2023 is going to be much more normal than in the past few years.
“I think we are going to see larger attendance numbers this season than in the past few years since pre-covid times,” Limmer said.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a large impact on minor league baseball. The 2020 season was cancelled, 2021 started off with limited capacity and having to zip tie seats around the ballpark to keep fans socially distanced.
The 2022 season was minor league baseball’s return to normalcy, but he said the offseason prior to the year was not completely normal due to the new covid variants that came along.
This is the TinCaps’ 14th season playing at Parkview Field and the team has planned more promotions than in the past and put together a summer checklist to attract families to games.
The team has special nights for promotions like dinosaur night, where life size dinosaurs will be roaming around the ballpark on May 27, ’90s night on July 21 where the players will be wearing throwback Fort Wayne Wizards uniforms to honor its past. The former mascot, Wayne the Wizard, will be at Parkview Field that night.
One major goal for the team is keeping ticket prices affordable. Limmer said the TinCaps want to make sure they are accessible to everyone in the Fort Wayne community.
“We’re keeping our prices steady, despite issues of inflation happening right now. We don’t want ticket prices getting in the way of coming to the ballpark,” he said.
Tickets to sit out on the lawn area by the outfield cost $7 per person. Sitting behind home plate is $14 per person.
One trend they are seeing with fans is people buying tickets for certain games ahead of time. Fans are marking their calendars and circling dates for when they want to see the team.
“This is why we felt it was important for us to continue to improve our in-game experiences for the fans and do more promotional nights,” he said. “This is also a great opportunity to give people a reason to come to the downtown area.”
Another feature that has helped them bring families to the ballpark is Minor League Baseball’s pitch clock. The minor leagues has had a pitch clock in place since 2015. For single-A baseball, which the TinCaps are in, pitchers have 14 seconds to throw the ball with bases empty and 18 seconds with runners on base.
Major League Baseball has implemented a pitch clock this season where pitchers have 15 seconds with bases empty to throw the ball and 20 seconds with runners on.
He believes the pitch clock helps with families spending time at the game, where in the past they would leave early while the game is still happening.
“We have found that the pitch clock last year cut down the average time of games here by 45 minutes,” he said. “It has really helped in keeping the game going and eliminates much of the down time.”
Because of the faster pace of games due to the pitch clock, the TinCaps have focused on creating a system where lines for concessions move quicker.
Minor League players recently ratified its first ever collective bargaining agreement where player salaries are set to double and other benefits are included. Limmer said the new CBA won’t have any impact on the operations of the TinCaps. Minor league player salaries are paid by the major league teams they are affiliated with. The TinCaps are affiliated with the San Diego Padres.
“It’s great for the players being they will be making more money,” he said. “The Padres and us have been really good about providing housing for our players and have been doing so before MLB started requiring it last year.”
He hopes the team can continue to be proactive in the community and stay connected with fans to help inform them about what promotions they are doing at the ballpark throughout the season.
“One of our challenges is communication. We have to educate and communicate to our fans about what we have going on here, since oftentimes we hear people tell us they didn’t know something was happening at Parkview Field,” he said.
To view the team’s promotional schedule, please visit www.milb.com/fort-wayne/tickets/promotions.