Lebanon Sports Buzz
Lebanon_Advertising_Banner
Breaking News

IMG_1447

(Editor’s Note: This feature on the Harrisburg Senators first appeared on Lebanon Sports Buzz in 2016)

BY JEFF FALK

HARRISBURG – You work hard. You value your time with your family. You’re emotionally invested to your well-earned money.

But when you do want to spend your recreation time and income, you want to do it wisely. In some ways it’s comforting to know that there are those out there working just as hard to make those experiences as valuable.

For fans of minor league baseball, Lebanon County is situated in a unique position within a 50-minute drive of Harrisburg, Reading and Lancaster. Certainly the Senators aren’t your only option for unique family-oriented baseball entertainment, but it would be hard to imagine any other area franchise which tries harder.

IMG_1521“People lead very busy lives,” says Harrisburg Senators president Kevin Kulp. “It’s hard to get out here. We love to create those once-in-a-lifetime moments. There’s still lots of seats to sell. But we think our experience is as good as any minor-league experience in the country.

“Baseball here is great,” continues Kulp. “(Class) AA is very good baseball. Players go to the major leagues from AA ball. But only ten percent of our fan base cares about the game. They’re here for the experience. We really focus on your attention. We don’t control things within the game, but we control things outside of the game. We bang our heads on walls to create an affordable family atmosphere. We try new things. There’s always something new going on.”

Once known as America’s Past Time, baseball can be a slow moving game, mainly because of its downtime between innings. But what Kulp and his staff have done is filled the gaps with entertainment – things like short contests and quick races, kids singing, grown men gyrating to music, give-aways, fireworks, even Racing Presidents.

IMG_1464“If you draw a 25-mile radius around where we’re standing, that’s where they’re (fans) coming from,” says Kulp. “Mechanicsburg, Carlisle, Harrisburg, Perry County. And any time we play the (Reading) Phillies, we have more fans. We don’t cross over into Lancaster or York too much. They are good independent franchises, and they have their own markets. Generally, our markets down’t step on each other’s toes.

“I think Lebanon is right around that 25-mile area,” Kulp continues. “We reach in that area quite a bit. People in Lebanon are fortunate because they have good baseball all around them.”

From Lebanon, a trip to a Senators’ game can make for a great summer day trip – or in most cases, an evening trip. Situated on scenic City Island along the banks of the Susquehanna River, the Senators’ home, FNB Field, affords visitors a great view of the waterway and Harrisburg’s downtown skyline.

IMG_1465It’s also affordable. Tickets are priced from $9 to $15 to $35. Stadium fare there is quite less expensive than its major league cousin – $3.50 for water and soda, $6.75 for beer, $3.50 for peanuts and $7.75 for fingers and fries.

“We’re not just another baseball product in the area,” says Kulp. “We realize there are many things families can choose to do with each other, which is precious. It’s that disposable time that people have so little of. I don’t expect people to come 50 times a year. But it’s a shame not to come out and experience a facility like this a couple of times a year. What we’re looking for is one more time a year.

“We try to drive traffic, drive ticket sales,” adds Kulp. “On any given night, there’s 25-30 different groups here. Hopefully they had a good time, but they may or may not know what the final score was. We’ve got to be proactive. There’s a lot of touches we have when fans are here. We want them to say good things about us. We’re proud of the experience. It’s very rewarding to see smiles on people’s faces. One thing that has always stuck with me is that it doesn’t matter if it’s April and 40 degrees or a night like this, there’s going to be someone attending their first game, on any given night.”

IMG_1478Kulp and the Senators must be doing something right.

Last season, Harrisburg drew a record-number of 301,588 fans over their 71-game home schedule – an average of 4,248 spectators per evening. Their goal is to establish another record this season.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can every night,” says Kulp, who doubles as the leader of an all-male-review-of-upper-management dance ensemble. “It’s all hands on deck every night. It’s a lot of hours and not a lot of money. It’s important to be clean, affordable and enjoyable.

IMG_1434“Eight years ago, when we took over the team from the city of Harrisburg, we made a concerted effort to be more family friendly,” Kulp adds. “Almost everything we do is geared towards the family experience. There’s something for everyone. Even if you don’t like baseball at all, you’ll have a good time.”

The Harrisburg Senators have been the Class AA minor league affiliate of the Washington Nationals since 1991, and before that for three years, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Senators compete in the Eastern League, with 11 other clubs from the Mid-Atlantic, New England regions.

Harrisburg is one of ten minor-league baseball franchises in Pennsylvania.

“Winning is always better than losing,” says Kulp, who does not make decisions concerning players and the team itself. “But if you’re either historically good or historically bad, it’s not like the big leagues where it’s the only thing. It’s less important than people think. The weather is much more  important than winning.

IMG_1428“I want this to be seen as a place where people have a good time, and that when they’re here, it’s something they haven’t experienced anywhere else,” Kulp continues. “We want to do things that get people talking. We’re not afraid to try new things. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

The history  of the Senators and baseball in Harrisburg dates back to 1893.

In 1995, the city of Harrisburg bought the Senators’ franchise for $6.7 million, diffusing a plan to move it out of the city and making it one of the only sports franchises in the United States to be solely owned by the community where it resided. In 2006, Harrisburg was sold to Senators Partners, LLC of Northbrook, Illinois for an Eastern League record of $13.25 million.

“I don’t know if we’ve permeated this market fully,” says Kulp. “Success breeds expectations. We want to build on our success. Our goal is sell-outs every night.



“In the mid-(19)90s, minor-league baseball changed drastically,” continues Kulp. “It changed from mom-and-pop operations to big business. There was a real focus on a business model that makes money. It’s a drastically different experience. Minor league baseball’s attendance has grown many years in-a-row. I don’t even know how many. This is a great product and you don’t have to go far to get it. It’s so convenient. Our industry does a great job of sharing ideas. There are so many really good minds who know how to put butts in seats. It’s a great product, but people expect a level of excitement.”

IMG_1498To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www. http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-ten/.

 

IMG_1440

 

 

 

IMG_1455Eastern League Standings

   EASTERN DIVISION

W L % GB
Reading 49 19 .721
Trenton 40 27 .597 8.5
Hartford 37 28 .569 10.5
New Hampshire 29 37 .439 19.0
Binghamton 28 37 .431 19.5
Portland 23 43 .348 25.0

WESTERN DIVISION

W L % GB
Akron 39 29 .574
Altoona 35 31 .530 3.0
Harrisburg 35 31 .530 3.0
Erie 30 39 .435 9.5
Bowie 29 38 .433 9.5
Richmond 26 41 .388 12.5

IMG_1502

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_14632016 HARRISBURG SENATORS PROMOTIONAL SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS

April
4/14 – Opening Night; Magnet Schedule Giveaway to the first 3,000 fans, all ages; Thirsty Thursday
4/15 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
4/16 – Bobblehead giveaway to the first 1,500 fans, all ages; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
4/17 – Team Schedule Poster giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, all ages; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
4/18 – Military Monday
4/19 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
4/20 – Wet Nose Wednesday; Business at the Ballpark noon game time
4/26 – Pay What You Want Night ($1 minimum, portions go to charity); Karns Max Saver Tuesday
4/27 – Wet Nose Wednesday
4/28 – Thirsty Thursday
4/29 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
4/30 – Hershey Park Pass Giveaway to the first 2,000 fans, 12 & under; Halfway to Halloween; Post-game Kids Run the Bases

May
5/1 – 30th Season Card Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
5/2 – Military Monday
5/3 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
5/4 – Wet Nose Wednesday; Education Day
5/5 – Cowboy Monkey Rodeo; Cinco de Mayo; Thirsty Thursday
IMG_14825/12 – Thirsty Thursday
5/13 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
5/14 – T-Shirt Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, all ages; Birdzerk! Appearance; Family Game Night featuring special Jerseys worn by the Senators; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
5/15 – Baseball Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 12 & under; Zooperstars Appearance; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pregame Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
5/20 – The Big Boom Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
5/21 – Military Card Set giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, all ages; Armed Forces Day; Kids Run the Bases
5/22 – Pop Top Clock Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, all ages; Diaper Derby; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Kids Run the Bases
5/23 – Military Monday
5/24 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
5/25 – Wet Nose Wednesday
5/26 – Education Day; Thirsty Thursday
5/31 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday

IMG_1451June
6/1 – Wet Nose Wednesday
6/2 – Home Improvement Night featuring an appearance by Richard Karn; (special Jerseys worn by the team); Thirsty Thursday
6/7 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
6/8 – Wet Nose Wednesday
6/9 – Thirsty Thursday
6/10 – Bucket Ruckus Appearance; Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
6/11 – Bucket Ruckus Appearance; Adult Jersey Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 13 and over; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
6/12 – Drawstring Bag giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, all ages; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Day; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids run the Bases
6/13 – Military Monday; Little League Night (free admission to all children that wear their youth baseball uniform)
6/17 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Appearance by the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
6/18 – Giveaway TBA; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
6/19 – Necktie Giveaway to the first 1,000 men 18 and over; Father’s Day; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
6/27 – Military Monday
6/28 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
6/29 – Wet Nose Wednesday

IMG_1524July
7/4 – Independence Day Fireworks & Military Monday
7/5 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
7/6 – Wet Nose Wednesday
7/7 – Thirsty Thursday; Appearance by Rubber Boy
7/8 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
7/9 – Bobblehead Giveaway to the first 1,500 fans, all ages; Scout Night Sleepover
7/10 – Youth Jersey Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 12 and under; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pregame Catch on the Field; Postgame Kids Run the Bases
7/21 – Cowboy Monkey Rodeo; Thirsty Thursday
7/22 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
7/23 – Bat Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 12 and under; Star Wars Night featuring Star Wars Characters (special jerseys worn by the team); Fireworks
7/24 – Anthony Rendon Mayfly Globe Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, all ages; Christmas in July; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
7/25 – Military Monday
7/26 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
7/27 – Wet Nose Wednesday

IMG_1423August
8/5 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
8/6 – Hat Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 13 and older; Furry Friends Night featuring the Senators wearing Pet Jerseys; Fur Circus Appearance; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
8/7 – Alpaca Racing; Nationals Baseball Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 12 and under; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
8/12 – Zooperstars Appearance; Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
8/13 – Bobblehead Giveaway to the first 1,500 fans, all ages; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
8/14 – Tube Cooler Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans, 21 and older; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pre-game Catch on the Field; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
8/16 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
8/17 – Wet Nose Wednesday
8/18 – Diamond Dig; Thirsty Thursday
8/22 – Military Monday
8/23 – Karns Max Saver Tuesday
8/24 – Wet Nose Wednesday
9/2 – Fireworks & Flatscreens; Pre-game Boardwalk Bash
IMG_14389/3 – Infinity Scarf Giveaway to the first 1,000 women, 18 and older; Pink Night featuring the Senators wearing special jerseys; Post-game Kids Run the Bases
9/4 – Fan Appreciation Day Giveaways, one item for all fans while supplies last; Rite Aid wellness+ Family Sunday; Pregame Catch on the field; Postgame Kids Run the Bases
9/5 – Military Monday; Regular Season Finale

 

IMG_1490

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1418

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


× one = 4