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(Editor’s Note: This feature story on the Lancaster Barnstormers first appeared on Lebanon Sports Buzz in the summer of 2016.)

 IMG_4983BY JEFF FALK

LANCASTER – There was a time in the early 1990s when minor league baseball went from being a mom-and-pop operation to big business. It was on the back-side of that trend that baseball was reborn in Lancaster.

Over the last 11 seasons, not only have the Barnstormers followed the prevailing business model to a tee, it has also served them well.

But in the Lebanon, Dauphin, Berks and Lancaster County markets, the Barnstormers are still the new kids on the block, lagging on behind the more established Senators in Harrisburg and Phillies in Reading, in popularity. Yet in no way does that undermine the success the Barnstormers have been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time.

IMG_4989“In terms of our market, we’re much fresher and much newer than those other teams are,” said John Brennan, the Lancaster Barnstormers’ Multi-Media and Public Relations Coordinator. “We have that fresh new feeling. I don’t feel like we’re an out-dated team.

“I think the biggest thing for us was the change in ownership in 2013,” continued Brennan. “The franchise was sold by Opening Day Partners to the four founders of Clipper Magazine. They brought a different mindset in sales and marketing because they came from the magazine business, and they’re very sponsorship-driven. I’d say that’s the biggest thing. They’re on the ground floor every day, trying to make this the best team it can be.”

Unlike the Phillies and Senators, the Barnstormers are not affiliated with a Major League Baseball club. Lancaster competes in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball’s Freedom Division.

IMG_5013“I personally think everyone started thinking three-hour baseball games were becoming boring, without promotions,” said Brennan. “If we didn’t do promotions, I don’t think we’d get the attendance we’re getting. We’re more entertaining during the game, and the more sponsorship dollars you can get, the better off you’re going to be financially. If you’re not doing that, you’re leaving money out on the table.

“The future is pretty promising,” Brennan continued. “The ownership group is really starting to hit their stride with the baseball business. It was a very steep learning curve for them. They’re only going to find out different ways to get more people here, to improve the fan experience. I know we can always improve. If you have a great time at the game, you’re going to come back. There’s no room to rest.”

Located at 650 North Prince Street in the city, just outside of Lancaster’s downtown business district, the Barnstormers’ home yard – Clipper Magazine Stadium – is about a 45-minute drive from Lebanon. Parking is plentiful and free, and the trip serve as the perfect affordable family getaway, in and around the summer months.



Tickets are very reasonably priced between $6 and $13. Concessions are priced on par with those in Harrisburg, but slightly more than Reading’s.

Beers cost between $5.50 and $7.25. Hot dogs are $2.25 to $3.75. Peanuts are $3.75. Clipper Magazine Stadium does not offer Cracker Jacks.

IMG_4914“Lebanon has just recently become higher on our radar,” said Brennan. “We find people from Lebanon enjoy coming to Lancaster Barnstormer games. We’ve been in touch with more businesses in Lebanon. Lebanon is our neighbor and a big part of what we plan for the future.

“First and foremost, we have to figure out why people in Lebanon come down here,” added Brennan. “I think we get overlooked. We have shown we can put on a quality show, and that it’s quality baseball. If we can get them to come down here, we’re confident we can get them to come back. The biggest thing is getting the word out.”

IMG_4956Inside Clipper Magazine Stadium, the Barnstormers offer all the bells and whistles that have become common in minor league baseball – between-inning games and contests, fireworks, player interviews and a play-amusement area for youngsters. But Lancaster seems to place more emphasis on things like banner ads, sponsorships, promotions, celebrity appearances and corporate box seating.

One can even sponsor a strikeout, if he or she is so inclined.

“Basically what we try to do is make the atmosphere fun for everyone from a child to a person in their 80s, and everyone in between,” said Brennan. “Making it family friendly is probably the most important thing we do. We want to entertain the masses, not certain demographics.

“It can be anything from promotions to Fill the Belly Tuesdays to dollar-dog nights,” Brennan added. “And with the things we do on the field, we’re always trying to think of things that incorporate multiple family members at a time. We can’t do something during every half-inning break. But we try to do something every other half-inning.”

IMG_4936The Barnstormers play 70 home games between May and September, and Lancaster averages 3,800 fans per contest.

“We’ve really been battling the weather this year,” said Brennan. “I think it’s one of the things that’s keeping people away. We’ve played 35 home games and we’ve had some sort of rain for 20 of those. It seems every time you look up the tarp is on the field. It’s been hurting our attendance, even though we’re doing a good job of promoting. But we’re never going to be happy, until every game is sold out.

“The majority of our fans are coming from Lancaster County,” continued Brennan. “They’re people who have gotten tickets from their employers, first dates, a family of four, people who get out to one or two Barnstormer games a year. I’m not saying we don’t draw from the York and Harrisburg areas – even down towards Philadelphia – but those people are coming out for special reasons. It depends on what’s going on that night. But most of them live within a 20-mile radius.”

Professional baseball in Lancaster dates back to the 1880s and the Lancaster Ironsiders. Over the decades, Lancaster hosted a number of professional clubs, including the Lancasters, the Chicks, the Giants, the Maroons and the Red Roses.

IMG_4939But the Red Roses folded in 1961, and professional baseball would be absent in Lancaster for the next 44 years.

“We’re pretty much trying to attract everyone who’s thinking of doing something on a Friday or a Saturday night,” said Brennan. “We could be competing against art galleries or restaurants. There’s a lot of different things people could choose to do on Saturday night. We have to set ourselves apart from other places. It’s one thing to get people to come out, and it’s another thing to get them to come back. Getting them to come out is half the battle, and getting them to come back is the other half.”

Clipper Magazine Stadium, which seats 6,000, has also hosted professional soccer, little league, scholastic and college baseball, ice skating, boxing and concerts.

IMG_5020“At this place, we do more than just play baseball,” said Brennan. “It’s really become a multi-purpose field. The owners want it to be a community center, not just a baseball stadium.

“Winning is really important,” Brennan continued. “I don’t want to say it’s The most important thing. It’s always good if we win, when fans come out here. When we’re not winning, we have to come up with more creative ways to get people to come out. It makes it a little easier when you’re winning.”

 

 

 

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IMG_4987To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

 

 

 

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# Division Away Home Date Time Result
3 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Thu, Apr 21 7:08 PM 5-2
7 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Fri, Apr 22 7:08 PM 11-5
11 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Sat, Apr 23 6:09 PM 3-0
13 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Sat, Apr 23 8:41 PM 5-6
18 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Mon, Apr 25 7:05 PM 4-1
22 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Tue, Apr 26 7:07 PM 9-4
28 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Wed, Apr 27 7:07 PM 7-11
29 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Thu, Apr 28 7:11 PM 2-1
33 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Fri, Apr 29 7:06 PM 6-2
37 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Sat, Apr 30 7:04 PM 10-3
41 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Sun, May 1 2:03 PM 11-8
49 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Tue, May 3 6:39 PM 2-3
54 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Wed, May 4 6:35 PM
Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Thu, May 5 6:07 PM 0-1
59 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Thu, May 5 8:38 PM 5-13
61 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Fri, May 6 7:00 PM
65 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Sat, May 7 7:06 PM 2-3
69 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Sun, May 8 2:04 PM 4-5
Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Sun, May 8 5:19 PM 2-1
74 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Tue, May 10 7:01 PM 8-4
78 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Wed, May 11 7:02 PM 5-3
Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Thu, May 12 11:07 AM 0-1
84 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Fri, May 13 7:09 PM 2-12
88 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Sat, May 14 7:22 PM 11-8
92 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Sun, May 15 1:09 PM 6-4
96 Freedom York Lancaster Mon, May 16 7:04 PM 2-10
100 Freedom York Lancaster Tue, May 17 7:06 PM 0-7
107 Freedom York Lancaster Wed, May 18 7:03 PM 1-2
111 Freedom York Lancaster Thu, May 19 7:05 PM 4-3
114 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Fri, May 20 7:08 PM 1-2
118 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Sat, May 21 6:35 PM
Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Sun, May 22 2:04 PM 5-0
122 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Sun, May 22 4:30 PM
125 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Tue, May 24 6:33 PM 6-4
129 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Wed, May 25 6:31 PM 8-9
133 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Thu, May 26 10:35 AM 1-9
139 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Fri, May 27 7:40 PM 5-6
144 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Sat, May 28 7:04 PM 4-7
148 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Sun, May 29 2:04 PM 5-3
151 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Mon, May 30 2:05 PM 4-10
154 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Tue, May 31 7:05 PM 1-7
158 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Wed, Jun 1 7:03 PM 4-8
162 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Thu, Jun 2 7:03 PM 4-7
167 Freedom Lancaster York Fri, Jun 3 6:32 PM 3-5
171 Freedom Lancaster York Sat, Jun 4 6:34 PM 5-0
175 Freedom Lancaster York Sun, Jun 5 1:06 PM 3-1
179 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Tue, Jun 7 7:12 PM 4-2
183 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Wed, Jun 8 10:35 AM 8-9
187 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Thu, Jun 9 7:12 PM 5-6
191 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Sat, Jun 11 7:02 PM 4-6
195 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Sun, Jun 12 2:03 PM 9-4
199 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Mon, Jun 13 7:04 PM 4-2
203 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Tue, Jun 14 7:03 PM 3-2
207 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Wed, Jun 15 7:04 PM 3-12
211 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Thu, Jun 16 7:03 PM 13-4
214 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Fri, Jun 17 6:38 PM 2-4
218 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Sat, Jun 18 1:10 PM 3-2
219 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Sat, Jun 18 6:40 PM 4-1
223 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Sun, Jun 19 1:36 PM 2-3
228 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Mon, Jun 20 7:10 PM 3-1
232 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Tue, Jun 21 7:13 PM 1-6
236 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Wed, Jun 22 7:11 PM 6-7
238 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Thu, Jun 23 8:25 PM 5-4
242 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Fri, Jun 24 7:06 PM 4-1
246 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Sat, Jun 25 7:04 PM 3-13
250 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Sun, Jun 26 5:06 PM 4-6
256 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Mon, Jun 27 7:02 PM 3-4
260 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Tue, Jun 28 7:03 PM 3-5
264 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Wed, Jun 29 7:00 PM 4-2
268 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Thu, Jun 30 7:04 PM 7-4
272 Freedom Lancaster York Fri, Jul 1 6:37 PM 3-4
276 Freedom Lancaster York Sat, Jul 2 6:30 PM 6-4
280 Freedom Lancaster York Sun, Jul 3 1:03 PM 7-14
283 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Mon, Jul 4 7:00 PM
287 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Tue, Jul 5 6:04 PM 3-4
288 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Tue, Jul 5 8:57 PM 7-2
293 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Thu, Jul 7 7:09 PM 7-4
297 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Fri, Jul 8 7:33 PM 3-4
301 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Sat, Jul 9 7:09 PM 1-2
305 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Sun, Jul 10 5:12 PM 5-0
311 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Fri, Jul 15 7:07 PM 5-4
315 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Sat, Jul 16 7:06 PM 3-2
319 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Sun, Jul 17 2:04 PM 2-3
321 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Mon, Jul 18 7:04 PM 7-3
324 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Tue, Jul 19 6:35 PM 12-2
329 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Wed, Jul 20 12:05 PM 6-7
330 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Wed, Jul 20 6:34 PM 10-5
334 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Thu, Jul 21 6:34 PM 3-7
337 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Fri, Jul 22 7:04 PM 3-2
341 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Sat, Jul 23 7:03 PM 12-7
345 Liberty /Freedom Somerset Lancaster Sun, Jul 24 2:04 PM 6-4
352 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Mon, Jul 25 9:04 PM 10-8
356 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Tue, Jul 26 7:03 PM 8-4
360 Freedom Sugar Land Lancaster Wed, Jul 27 11:05 AM 0-8
364 Freedom Lancaster York Thu, Jul 28 6:33 PM 2-3
368 Freedom Lancaster York Fri, Jul 29 6:34 PM 14-1
372 Freedom Lancaster York Sat, Jul 30 8:15 PM 9-5
376 Freedom Lancaster York Sun, Jul 31 1:04 PM 6-11
379 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Tue, Aug 2 7:05 PM  
383 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Wed, Aug 3 11:05 AM Regency Furn.
387 Freedom Lancaster S Maryland Thu, Aug 4 7:05 PM Regency Furn.
390 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Fri, Aug 5 6:35 PM New Britain
394 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Sat, Aug 6 6:35 PM New Britain
398 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster N Britain Sun, Aug 7 1:35 PM New Britain
405 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Tue, Aug 9 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
409 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Wed, Aug 10 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
413 Freedom S Maryland Lancaster Thu, Aug 11 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
417 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Fri, Aug 12 6:35 PM Bethpage Park
421 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Sat, Aug 13 6:35 PM Bethpage Park
425 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster L Island Sun, Aug 14 5:05 PM Bethpage Park
430 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Mon, Aug 15 7:05 PM Constellation
434 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Tue, Aug 16 7:05 PM Constellation
438 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Wed, Aug 17 7:05 PM Constellation
442 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Thu, Aug 18 7:05 PM Constellation
446 Freedom York Lancaster Fri, Aug 19 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
450 Freedom York Lancaster Sat, Aug 20 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
454 Freedom York Lancaster Sun, Aug 21 2:00 PM Clipper Magz.
455 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Tue, Aug 23 7:05 PM TD Bank
459 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Wed, Aug 24 7:05 PM TD Bank
463 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Somerset Thu, Aug 25 7:05 PM TD Bank
470 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Fri, Aug 26 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
474 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Sat, Aug 27 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
478 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Sun, Aug 28 2:00 PM Clipper Magz.
481 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Mon, Aug 29 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Tue, Aug 30 6:00 PM Clipper Magz.
485 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Tue, Aug 30 8:30 PM Clipper Magz.
489 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Wed, Aug 31 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
493 Liberty /Freedom L Island Lancaster Thu, Sep 1 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
498 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Fri, Sep 2 7:05 PM Constellation
502 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Sat, Sep 3 6:05 PM Constellation
506 Freedom Lancaster Sugar Land Sun, Sep 4 6:05 PM Constellation
513 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Tue, Sep 6 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
517 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Wed, Sep 7 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
518 Liberty /Freedom N Britain Lancaster Thu, Sep 8 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
524 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Fri, Sep 9 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
528 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Sat, Sep 10 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
532 Liberty /Freedom Bridgeport Lancaster Sun, Sep 11 2:00 PM Clipper Magz.
535 Freedom York Lancaster Mon, Sep 12 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
540 Freedom York Lancaster Tue, Sep 13 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
544 Freedom York Lancaster Wed, Sep 14 7:00 PM Clipper Magz.
548 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Thu, Sep 15 7:12 PM Harbor Yard
552 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Fri, Sep 16 7:12 PM Harbor Yard
556 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Sat, Sep 17 6:12 PM Harbor Yard
560 Freedom /Liberty Lancaster Bridgeport Sun, Sep 18 1:12 PM Harbor Yard
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