On the Road: Mingling With the Stars in Huntsville

Thumbnail image for hstars.jpgGreetings from the Huntsville Holiday Inn. It is late at night, so late that I just threw caution to the wind and got a package of Hickory Smoked Beef Sticks and a Mello Yello from the vending machines. The slogan on this beef stick package says “Taste the Magic” but as of yet I have not been able to discern what’s so magical about Lactic Acid Starter Culture and Hydrolyzed Soy Protein.

And did you know that Elvis once stayed in this hotel? I bet you didn’t. It was on May 30, 1975, according to a plaque in the lobby. The Huntsville police stopped by his room and presented him with an honorary badge, which surely must have ranked among the top billion moments of Elvis’ life.

This is what happens at 2:09 in the morning — I start to ramble. But my main purpose incollmenter.jpg crafting yet another blog post is to post some pictures of my evening at the Huntsville Stars game. The Stars went down in defeat to the Mobile BayBears, with former facial hair cult celebrity Josh Collmenter earning the win.

But I am not concerned with game results, I am concerned with game experience. And while Huntsville’s Joe W. Davis Stadium is one of the less-inspiring facilities in the Southern League, I enjoy visiting here. One of the reasons is the chance to talk to GM Buck Rogers and his wife (and assistant GM) Babs, who are adept at creating memorable promotions and surreal moments (some of you may remember my last visit here, which was highlighted by an on-field sword swallowing).

I wrote an MiLB.com article on Buck, which can be found HERE. Here he is in his cluttered office, which he claims will be cleaned very shortly:

Huntsville_buck2.JPG 

The evening’s quite ridiculous promotion was that anyone flashing the “pitching sign” of five fingers and then four fingers would receive admission for 54 cents. This deal was in conjunction with local TV station Fox 54, and resulted in a nice walk-up crowd:

Huntsville_walk-up crowd.JPG

Also helping attendance was “Thirst Aid Thursday”, featuring $2 20-ounce beers. Many people were ready to partake:

Huntsville_beer id.JPG

I am now the proud owner of an XXL “Thirst Aid Thursday” t-shirt, which features a picture of a keg and the words “I’d Tap That”. I’d include a picture, except the shirt is currently residing on the passenger seat of my rented Mercedes-Benz with Texas plates (I’m not going to get tired of writing that). 

What I can include is this picture of the stadium rules, written in NASA-inspired outer-space font (in deference to Huntsville’s prominence in the aerospace industry). Although cut off slightly, note that rule #6 prohibits fans from bringing “nukes” into the stadium.

Huntsville_rules.JPG

Here’s another NASA-inspired sign, this one advising fans to keep an eye on the field of play. Also, there appears to be a ghostly skull hovering in the lower right hand corner: 

Huntsville_stay alert.JPG

I wandered around the spacious stadium throughout the first half of the ballgame, taking pictures. Some of these pictures shall now appear below, for your perusing enjoyment:

Huntsville_american flag.JPG

Huntsville_action.JPG

Huntsville_from last row.JPG

Huntsville_from right.JPG

Huntsville_thirsty.JPG

Huntsville_wide aisles.JPG

And, of course, the obligatory concession menu:

Huntsville_concession.JPG

Being the discerning gourmand that I am (see opening paragraph), I opted to visit two specialty stands. At one I procured a lemonade, and at the other boiled peanuts. I am of the firm belief that boiled peanuts should be purchased wherever they are an option.

Finally, I am very pleased to report that for the second time in as many days I was recognized at a ballpark by a baseball civilian. In this instance it was Stars’ season ticket holder Darrell Carmichael, who sent an email after the game that concluded “you keep posting and I’ll keep reading.”

Sounds like a deal to me! Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, as I really do appreciate it. And now, having tasted the magic, I am off to bed.

See you tomorrow, Chattanooga. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz.

2 Comments

Ben,

I have been attending minor league baseball games across the southeast for over 16 years now. I have attended 39 baseball games in 14 different parks just this year, and Huntsville is by far my least favorite place. This place went from being my favorite place growing up to a place that is like a prison camp that no one wants to be in.

Look at the attendance numbers since your buddy Buck took over:

Pre-Buck(2007) 164,079 Total – 2,449 Avg

2008: 160,080 Total – 2,389 Avg
2009: 93,845 Total – 1,514 Avg
2010 so far: 43,874 Total – 1,687 Avg

My friends that live in Huntsville and once enjoyed going to games no longer go to games because of the following reasons:

1) Gates only open 1 hour prior to the game – no longer get to watch batting practice
2) General Admission tickets(yes I know its all GA) are $10! + Parking(I believe its $3)
3) The obnoxious noisemakers
4) The booster club was done away with
5) Unfriendly staff members suck all the fun out of everything

I attended one game this year in Huntsville and was so amazed at how much of a prison camp that place has become that I don’t ever want to go back.

Here is my experience this year:

I went to the ticket office and asked if maybe they had some baseball card teamsets from last year. They told me to go in and check with the gift shop. I walked into the gift shop and they told me they weren’t open and I had to GET OUT NOW. Geez, the people at the box office JUST told me I could go in….

I saw some friends waiting before the game outside the gate and went to talk to them. At two different times, the “prison guards” came by to tell us not to go in until the gates opened(which no one was attempting to do AT ALL…my friends were even still in their vehicle!).

I decided at that point I didn’t even want to buy a ticket so I just left. I’m not going to pay $10 to have the staff hassle me when I’m not doing anything to bother anyone.

I grew up about an hour from the Huntsville stadium and I used to go down there almost every series. It was always a great, inexpensive, and “no hassle” time but Buck has changed that tremendously.

Before you praise Buck, who may be fun to shoot the stuff with, look at what he’s done to that team…. thanks to him and the poor marketing strategies of that team, Huntsville is on the verge of losing their AA team.

Have fun in Chattanooga, where Frank Burke understands what it is to create a fan-friendly ballpark and a great, inexpensive experience.

-Scott

Hi Scott –

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your comment, and you make some good points.

I must say, however, that I did not experience the “prison guard” mentality that you speak of. And this is from wandering the stadium inside and out as a fan, not with media credentials or other such signifiers. I found the employees to be welcoming and friendly, as well as the fans.

Thanks for reading, and for commenting. I did enjoy my time at the Lookouts’ stadium, although the game was rained out (more on that soon).

Ben

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 468 other followers

%d bloggers like this: