Whether the Clearwater Threshers (Florida State) are playing or not, the front office has made a point of making the ballpark a place for members of the community to attend and host events. It's exactly that philosophy that has people coming back for more.
"Our continued success is based on the way that we have embraced the community and gotten involved in so many aspects of various charities and other events that we do here," Threshers general manager John Timberlake said. "We're committed to making sure that our ballpark and our facility is not just about the major league spring training or minor league baseball. Our ballpark is open when other ballparks wouldn't be. The community has really embraced us and we have become partners in so many charitable organizations."
Bright House plays host to a variety of events, from fund-raisers to a weekly Wednesday night happy hour to a Halloween extravaganza, with hayrides on the warning track and 35 candy stations for trick-or-treaters.
It's also a hit during the season. The Phillies-owned franchise led the FSL in overall (172,151) and average (2,608) attendance in 2013, extending a streak that began when Bright House Field opened in 2004. "Our goal is to have fun, and we feel that we present a product that will keep people coming back," Timberlake said. "If we can get them in one time, we can get them back again. It's the fun that people are having at the tiki bar, the game entertainment that we're displaying on our video boards, our contests, our kids' zone inflatable area, and things of that nature. It's our food offerings and the quality of our food and beverage. All of that together just creates a fan experience that people respond to."
Phillies righthander Steven Inch got his first taste of the FSL late in the summer, and was impressed with what the Threshers offered their players and fans. "The park is very modern," Inch said. "They do a good job on promotions in getting people to come out to games and in their involvement with the community."
Added Clearwater infielder Carlos Alonso: "What separates it from other ballparks is just the all-around quality, on and off the field . . . The Threshers do a good job with us making connections with the fans and we also do a lot in the community, so we have the fans on our side before we even step onto the field."
Timberlake and his staff have a simple philosophy: Worry about only what you can control. And by doing that, they've been able to continually drive the franchise forward.
"We've created a culture where we don't think of people as fans, we think of them as guests in our house," he said. "We can't control the team and whether it's a great team one year or a team that doesn't play well the next, and we certainly can't control the weather, but we can control the experience. We can control the quality of our food, the cleanliness of our park, the quality of our promotions, and the experience that the fans have once they enter our gates."