2019 Freitas Awards: Hudson Valley Renegades (Short-Season)
The Hudson Valley Renegades have continually ranked among the most successful teams in the New York-Penn League.
So when the 2018 season ended, the Renegades did what highly successful teams do. Instead of looking at their success and standing pat, they looked at what they could do differently and better in 2019.
Staff-run fan focus groups led to the decision to add postgame concerts after some Saturday games. A jersey auction following the annual game honoring veterans that raised more than $5,000 for charity. The Renegades lowered the cost of concession items slightly in response to fan feedback.
And, as usual, the Renegades were quite successful at the gate in 2019. Hudson Valley’s 4,116 fans per game were the second-most in the New York-Penn League and second most among all short-season clubs. For its consistent excellence in terms of operations, Hudson Valley is this year’s short-season Freitas Award winner. This is the Renegades’ second Freitas Award. They also won the award in 1998.
“Receiving the Freitas Award is a tremendous honor for all of us from the full-time staff and ownership group on down,” Renegades team president Steve Gliner said. “We go into every season always looking to do things to better our organization and the experience for fans so that when they come back year after year, there’s always something new going on.”
Hudson Valley maintains a year-round presence in the community, a portfolio that has continued to expand in recent years. The 2019 season included the organization’s first Pride Night, which Gliner deemed a success. Dutchess Stadium also played host to a craft beer festival, a dessert festival and numerous other events.
The Renegades have hosted a day camp for children with disabilities during each of the past few seasons, which allows kids and their families to participate in drills and activities on the field with their favorite players. All participants also return for a game the following night and are recognized on the field prior to first pitch.
“We take part in everything from career fairs to hosting Halloween and Easter events for all ages,” Gliner said. “We donate about $30,000 directly back to the community and about $140,000 of in-kind donations each year. We also give back an extra $1,000 to the six organizations who have the largest fundraisers for themselves through ticket sales.”
Gliner also credited Dutchess County officials for partnering with the team for a major upgrade to fan seating for the first time in decades. Grandstands on either side of the diamond now feature chair-back seats. Those in the upper and lower levels of the concrete bowl are now padded. Plans call for a major renovation to on-site parking facilities in time for the 2020 season.
The parking will be part of a series of improvements for fan experience. After all, a successful 2019 season only raises the bar higher for 2020.