Need a tuneup before Saturday night's $475 million Powerball drawing (and a bit better odds)? Then consider heading over to BB&T Ballpark tonight, where the Winston-Salem Dash will welcome their millionth fan with a celebration that could net someone in attendance $1 million.
The Dash enter tonight's Carolina League game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans having drawn 999,555 fans in four seasons since moving from ancient Ernie Shore Field to one of the nicest ballparks at the Class A level. The team expects to make a run at its biggest Thursday night crowd in ballpark history—4,698 on July 26, 2012—which will certainly spin them into seven figures.
But will a fan in attendance tonight be as lucky?
The $1 million jackpot is one of three prizes a fan drawn at random will have a shot at winning, along with a two-year lease on a $30,000 car and two Dash tickets for life. The fan will be brought down to the field during a between-innings break and will have 40 envelopes to choose from spread out. Each envelope will represent one of the prizes, and the fan will keep picking envelopes until he or she has collected five of one of the prizes.
Dash director of media relations Brian Boesch said that the prizes are not weighted evenly and that the $1 million has the longest odds. The team will display the contents of all 40 envelopes after the game, he said.
The Dash will reach one million fans in its 229th game at BB&T Ballpark, which the team says is the fastest for any high Class A team at a new facility. It's also a significant milestone for the franchise whose history at the ballpark began under much shakier circumstances.
BB&T Ballpark opened one year later than planned in 2010 and cost $48.7 million to build—the most ever for a Class A stadium and more than double its original price tag of $23 million. The ballpark was scheduled to be one of seven to open in 2009, but was delayed by a year when construction ground to a halt in late 2008 as financing dried up amid the credit crisis and Prim was forced to buy the ownership stake of his business partner, Andrew Filipowski, who was divorcing Prim's sister-in-law. Prim turned to the Winston-Salem City Council for a $15.7 million loan—in addition to its original $12.7 million investment—and took out a $15 million loan himself to complete construction.
The result has been a top-notch venue that drew 307,300 fans in its debut season, 312,416 in 2011 before dipping to 305,515 last season. The team hosted the California-Carolina League all-star game last season and has reached the Carolina League championship series in two of its three seasons.
"The response in the community has been tremendous," Boesch said. "It has really worked out well both on and off the field."