The boys of summer are doing all right

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Friday, August 01, 2008

AT THE BALLPARK According to one baseball front-office staffer, if it wasn’t for the minor leagues, Eugene residents might be left with nothing to do during the summer.

“When the Ducks aren’t playing we are the only show in town,” says Nathan Skalsky, assistant general manager for the Eugene Emeralds, one of three Oregon minor league teams.

Baseball is big business at the major league level but minor league clubs have to work a bit harder to get people to the ballpark. But as many people suffering this summer from a sick economy look for an inexpensive good time, it’s paying off for minor league admissions.

Ticket sales at PGE Park are “strong” and up from last season, says Chris Metz, vice president of baseball operations for the Portland Beavers. Admission sales at home games for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and the Emeralds are holding steady compared to last year and are expected to increase in the final month of the summer season, according to the teams.

The Beavers this year felt more people would stick closer to home because of high gas prices and decided not to increase the $8 general admission. “Our deal is affordable family entertainment,” Metz says. The Volcanoes and Emeralds also did not raise admission prices .

After all, a night out at the ballpark likely will cost less than a night at the movies. General admission for an Emeralds game is $5.50 and $2.50 will get you a hot dog.

Ticket sales often are related to how well a team is doing, but in uncertain economic times it could be more about pragmatic economics. Nonetheless, at press time the Emeralds were in third place in their division, the Beavers were in second, and the Volcanoes were in first place.               

JASON SHUFFLER


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