Saints, Goldklang Group Named Ballpark Digest Organization of the YearST. PAUL, MN November 4, 2015
SAINTS, GOLDKLANG GROUP NAMED BALLPARK DIGEST ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR
ST. PAUL, MN (November 4, 2015) – From St. Paul in the Midwest, to Hudson Valley, NY and Pittsfield, MA in the Northeast and down to Charleston, SC in the South the footprint of the Goldklang Group is as wide as it is entertaining. One of the more well-respected ownership groups in all of minor league baseball continues to reinvent itself more than 20 years after it turned minor league baseball into a must see show and provided a blue print for sports organizations across the industry. Coming off banner seasons by each of its clubs, the Goldklang Group earned one of the top awards in the baseball industry receiving the Organization of the Year Award from Ballparkdigest.com.
“We're honored to receive this prestigious award from Ballpark Digest, the leading and most timely source of industry news,” said Goldklang Group Chairman Marv Goldklang. “While I might like, as owner, to take credit for this recognition, the truth of the matter is that it was earned by the most creative, hardest working group of individuals I've known in the game---from our General Managers to their game day staffs. Whether it was opening Minor League Baseball's best new ballpark of the year, or operating successfully out of one of its oldest, each team has continued throughout to reward our fans with wonderful and, in some respects, unique experiences at the ballpark. We look forward in 2016 and future years to providing both our fans and the industry with innovative approaches to the presentation of the greatest game in the world.”
All four teams contributed in a major way to the success of the Group in 2015. The St. Paul Saints (Independent, American Association), led by Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer, moved into CHS Field, which was awarded New Ballpark of the Year by Ballparkdigest.com. They earned the American Association Organization of the Year Award and Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer claimed the Executive of the Year Award. It was due in large part to Saint Paul and the greater Twin Cities region embracing CHS Field in ways that exceeded expectations. Opening Day saw 8,592 pass through the gates to experience CHS Field and crowds continued to pour in all summer. The Saints surpassed their single-game franchise record when they drew 9,960 on July 4. That record didn’t stand for long as 10,430 took in the August 20 game. In all, the Saints shattered the American Association record for attendance (297,834 set by the Saints in 2007) as they drew 404,528. The Saints averaged 8,090, 12th best in all of minor league baseball. The team played to a season-long capacity of 112%, tops in the nation. On the field the Saints set numerous franchise records including going an astounding 74-26 and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The Saints continued their tradition of humorous promotions that got national attention, none bigger than the Guinness Book of World Record Pillow Fight. On July 21, 6,261 fans partook in the largest pillow fight ever. MyPillow provided 8,000 pillows to the crowd of 8,960 and the official tally by Guinness showed that the Saints broke the previous record by more than 2,000 people. The earlier record of 4,201 participants was set at a Super 8 Motel in Brookings, South Dakota in 2014.
The Charleston RiverDogs (Single-A, South Atlantic League), led by Executive Vice President/General Manager Dave Echols, were also a force on the attendance front. They set franchise records in overall attendance, 292,661, good for fourth in the South Atlantic League, and average attendance, drawing 4,368 in 67 home dates. The previous overall record was 287,646 and stood since 2007. In conjunction with their attendance record one lucky fan went home with a used car, a 1998 Honda Civic which, of course, had more than 285,000 miles.
The RiverDogs were at the forefront in helping the community following two separate devastating tragedies. After the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June, the RiverDogs donated all proceeds from their game the following day to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund. Each of the Goldklang Group teams donned special caps or jersey’s in the following week and donated all proceeds from the auction of those items. The RiverDogs followed up by wearing a special uniform of their own, with a simple, but poignant black armband on the sleeve of both their home and away jerseys. At the end of the season they auctioned the uniforms and donated the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund.
Unfortunately, a second tragedy struck the Charleston area after severe flooding from Tropical Storm Erika caused severe damage to the city. The RiverDogs, along with three other South Atlantic teams in the state, Columbia Fireflies, Greenville Drive and Myrtle Beach Pelicans, started a GoFundMe page to help raise $100,000. Each team, along with Minor League Baseball Charities, donated $2,500 a piece. All funds will be donated to the American Red Cross of the Palmetto SC Region.
The Hudson Valley Renegades (Low-A, New York-Penn League), led by Senior Vice President/General Manager Eben Yager, continued a trend in the Goldklang Group with an impressive showing at the box office. They finished second in the New York-Penn League in overall and average attendance, with 163,767 and 4,426, respectively. On July 3 the Renegades set a franchise single-game attendance record of 5,601 surpassing their previous high of 5,525.
The entertainment at Dutchess Stadium was highlighted by several creative ideas, but none better than the Air Guitar Giveaway on July 24. The first 4,000 fans who entered the gates received their own customized Air Guitar. Star Wars Night was a huge hit as the first 1,000 fans 12 and under received a Boba Fett jersey along with a post-game Jedi Training session. The nightly minion races and live game of Hungry Hungry Hippos also proved to be crowd favorites.
No ballpark is complete without food and beverage and the Renegades unveiled two new items and a brand new stand. The Hudson Valley Renegade Apple Blossom was a croissant donut with creamy Edy’s Vanilla Ice Cream topped with freshly baked local apples and pears in a cinnamon sauce, drizzled with sweet salted caramel and hot fudge, and capped off with whipped cream and a little toffee crunch (just for fun). The Southern Comfort (Chicken and Waffles) was a warm Belgian waffles with scallions, cheddar and bacon baked right in! Filled with crispy fried chicken, smoky bacon, lettuce, tomato and their honey-bourbon barbecue sauce to give an old Southern favorite a new twist. The fry shack came complete with different specialties like parmesan garlic fries, taco fries and buffalo chicken fries.
The Pittsfield Suns (Collegiate Baseball, Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England) were the third best drawing team in the league and second in average attendance at 41,345 and 1,654 respectively. The average attendance was in the top 20 in all of collegiate baseball.
The Goldklang Group moved into historic Waconah Park in 2012 with the Suns and the 2016 season, the fifth for the organization, will be the longest tenure for any team since the Pittsfield Red Sox of the Eastern League resided at Waconah Park from 1965-69. Since that time 10 teams in various leagues have called Waconah Park home, but none have lasted longer than four seasons. Only two teams have lasted longer than five seasons, the Pittsfield Electrics of the Class-C Canadian American League from 1941-48 and the Pittsfield Hillies of the Class-A Eastern League from 1919-30.
While the fans continue to support the team, the Suns had their best season with groups, picnics and food and beverage. On the field the team made the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Goldklang Group is led by Chairman Marv Goldklang, Mike Veeck, President Jeff Goldklang, Senior Vice President Tyler Tumminia, Executive Vice President of Business Affairs Tom Whaley and Co-Owner, Director of Fun Bill Murray.
Each year BallparkDigest.com, the Internet’s leading guide to ballparks and the business of baseball, honors accomplishments in the industry with the annual Ballpark Digest Awards.