Battlin' Bob,Ryan and I stopped over at the Muni to ask if we could snap a few photos of the place and ask a few questions,although in hindsight there are a few that I wish that I had asked.
Bryan Holland,the new director of communications for the Hagerstown Suns, spoke with us a bit about things and when I arrived home and looked at the teams website that he mentioned that had been just updated,I wish that I had asked more questions or looked closer at the website before going to the park.
First off,the good news.
The field looks much better with the off season work and although a decent amount of the legendary left field hump remains,much of it has been eliminated.
That will make not only a better looking field,but a safer one as well.
Bryan also seems to be pretty understanding to the issues of the autograph collectors as well.
Holland says that he used to be one himself and I have found that former/current collectors understand the feelings and generally are willing to work on the issues that collectors face.
It seems to me that the Suns management realizes that the autographers money spends the same as everyone else and wants to help make them happy.
We spoke a bit about Bryce Harper coming to Hagerstown and the issues that will come up with this type of player.
The Hagerstown Suns have never had a player of this stature and it will bring up some issues that the team hasn't dealt with before.
Holland says the team is trying to prepare as best they can,but they can only prepare so much and that sounds reasonable to me.
I know that the facility is going to make things tougher this season.
I don't expect to have tons for Bryce Harper,but I do worry about the increased difficulty of the opposing pitchers with the extra fans that will be going after Harper.
Working on the visitors position players can be achieved by going to the third base side,but the pitchers cut across the outfield to the bullpen and that will make those players a much tougher problem.
This could be a long season or a long period of time that Harper is a Sun.
The team indeed will be adding a video board in addition to keeping the manual scoreboard.Now this I like as it truly brings the best of both worlds to the fan.
More information with a modern scoreboard and keeping the past alive with the manual.
The Suns will also be adding more netting down the baselines and despite not being a huge fan of the sightlines that they generally take away,in this case it is a good idea.
The box seats at the Muni have been a injury hazard for years and sometimes you have to lose a little to gain more.
This is a case that it is a smart and safe move.
More points for moving their Feed Your Face night off the same evening as Thirsty Thursdays.
I figured this was going to be an issue last year and it was.
In a facility that has issues with food lines to begin with,keeping intoxicated fans away from the family crowd is a good and smart decision.
The bad news
The team increased ticket prices for walkup day of the game sales.
I realize that is to encourage the early sale,but I am not sure that with a "Fresh start" ownership that raising ticket prices is the way to go.
This will bring extra fans to the park with Bryce Harper,but will it keep them coming without a star?
In my opinion,I doubt it and the Suns could wind up having a Harperless July and August with a ghost town for weeknight games that aren't Thirsty Thursdays.
A better idea would be a decrease in cost for buying in advance.
Instead of boosting GA tickets from seven bucks to nine,offer an advance rate of five or six dollars for an advance GA ticket,that is superior to the current idea.
Times are tough and 36 bucks for the family of four to sit in the rickety bleachers in one of the worst parks in the game might be prove to be a tough sell....
The grandstand will not be returning to general admission status as I had hoped.
The team instead will installing seat backs and eliminating rows to create more leg space in order to add them to the VIP seating.
This doesn't make much sense to me as that area was popular as a GA section,but not nearly so much when forced to pay a higher cost as the 2010 Suns charged.
I might understand it if the team needed more VIP seating because they are selling those out,but that clearly isn't the case...
Looks like the popular pre-season Meet the Suns autograph is going to change to an event for season ticket holders only.
I understand that season ticket holders deserve a bonus and maybe that could be along the lines of a exclusive period of time before the event,but eliminating all others just doesn't make sense to me.
Here is hoping they change their minds as last years event was very well done.
All and all,some good and bad.
In any new venture,new things will be tried and some will be great as some will be ineffective.
Time will tell the results...
Photo Credits-Battlin' Bob McKain