Sunday, November 8, 2015

RiverDogs, Goldklang Group Named Ballpark Digest Organization of the Year

RiverDogs’ ownership group named Organization of the Year

CHARLESTON, SC – From St. Paul in the Midwest to Hudson Valley, NY and Pittsfield,
MA in the Northeast and down to Charleston 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
blueprint 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
“This is a tremendous honor for The Goldklang Group and the Charleston RiverDogs, in
particular,” said RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. “All of our teams have
contributed to this award, but it starts at the top with quality leadership which is what
(owner) Marv Goldklang and his staff provide. We’re proud of what we’ve done as
RiverDogs, and also proud of what the three other Goldklang Group teams have

“As I mentioned, it starts with Marv’s leadership, but we are also fortunate to be on the
receiving end of the guidance and direction as provided by (RiverDogs President) Mike
Veeck, (Goldklang Group President) Jeff Goldklang, (Senior Vice President) Tyler
Tumminia, (Executive Vice President of Business Affairs) Tom Whaley and (Co-
Owner/Director of Fun) Bill Murray.”

All four teams contributed in a major way to the success of the Group in 2015. The
RiverDogs (Single-A, South Atlantic League) were a force on the attendance front as
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 jerseys in the following week and donated all proceeds from the auction
of those items. The RiverDogs followed 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 and flooding 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 each. All
funds will be donated to the American Red Cross of the Palmetto SC Region.

The St. Paul Saints (Independent, American Association) moved into CHS Field, which
was awarded New Ballpark of the Year by 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 Records 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 Hudson Valley Renegades (Low-A, New York-Penn League) 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.

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 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! Fill with crispy fried chicken, smoky bacon, lettuce,
tomato and our 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.

Each year, the Internet’s leading guide to ballparks and the
business of baseball, honors accomplishments in the industry with the annual Ballpark
Digest Awards.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)