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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:56

Indians hope new seats will attract more fans

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Swift Current Indians and Field of Dreams Committee are hoping if they revitalize and add to Mitchell Field, then more people will come to games.

The Indians, along with representatives from Swift Current Minor Baseball and Field of Dreams Committee, announced May 5 they will install seats on the grandstand at Mitchell Field in June.

“It’s very, very exciting,” said Indians’ president Brad Woods. “It’s something I didn’t think we’d be able to do.”

In fact, getting seats installed at Mitchell Field isn’t something the Indians are doing. After hearing complaints from members of the community about how uncomfortable the current grandstand is at the stadium, Harv Martinez, the team’s former manager, formed a committee to get new seats for the stadium.

The committee contacted numerous companies looking for a seat that will work within the existing structure. They eventually found a seat that cost $33 each, is comfortable, can be installed on the existing grandstand and withstand Canadian winters.

In need of funding for the project — the Indians couldn’t afford to pay for any upgrades as the organization is focused keeping its operation budget in the black every year — the Mitchell Field seating committee approached the Field of Dreams Committee.

The Field of Dreams Committee, which supports the Indians and minor baseball in Swift Current, quickly agreed to fund the approximately $19,000 project.

“We want to see the ball park packed every game and we realized the seating wasn’t the greatest,” said Hector Wood, the Field of Dreams’ committee chairperson. “We’re hoping that by stepping up and purchasing the new seats for the ball park that they’ll be able to fill the ball park. Hopefully, that will happen.

“At least it’s trying to prove to the fans and public that we’re trying to encourage people to come to the ballpark.”

This donation is coming from money saved from previous dinners. The 2011 dinner raised $15,000.
The Indians will still receive the $8,000 they normally receive from the Field of Dreams.

Each of the 550 seats installed in the stadium will have a Field of Dreams plaque on it to commemorate the organization’s purchase of the seats.

Although Woods is hoping adding seats to Mitchell Field will make for a better baseball experience, he knows it will decrease the stadium’s capacity by approximately 100 people.

Woods isn’t worried about that affecting the team’s bottom line as he said the Indians don’t have huge crowds until the post-season.

“Outside of playoffs, a good crowd for us is between 350 and 400,” said Woods. “On top of the 550 seats we’ll have in the grandstand, we also have the seating down the third base line and the availability to bring seating down the first base line.

“If we could fill every new seat, we’d be ahead of where we are already. Come playoff time, if we need to bring bleachers in, we’ll do that.”

It’s not just the Indians who will benefit from Mitchell Field having permanent seats.

Louis Cherpin, the president of Swift Current Minor Ball, believes the new seats will help draw more fans to midget baseball games played at Mitchell Field. He’s also hopeful they will help Swift Current be granted the right to host bigger baseball tournaments.

Cherpin and Woods are hopeful people will stop bringing lawn chairs to baseball events at Mitchell Field and enjoy sitting in the new kelly green seats. Kelly green is the colour of the trim at Mitchell Field.

“We want people to come out and try the seats first. It’s our hope and Harv’s hope that that’s going to be something they’re happy with,” said Woods.

The seats were ordered two weeks ago and should arrive before the Indians’ season begins June 1 when they host Okotoks. They may not, however, be installed until part way through June when the stadium isn’t being used for a few games.

Until the seats are installed, fans may have to endure backless seating as the team is planning to remove the back support from the grandstand seating in preparation for the installation of the new seats.

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