Buffalo Bisons 2015 and all the cool new stuff
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 12:41 pm, March 26, 2015
Upon arrival to Pettibone’s yesterday, the mezzanine level restaurant inside Coca Cola Field in downtown Buffalo, it hit you as soon as you walked in.
Popcorn, Orange colored popcorn. Bowls and bowls and bowls of the confection adorning every table. So why all the popcorn?
As it turns out, this was “Buffalo Wing Popcorn”, one of the new food items which will be available at Buffalo Bisons games this spring and summer.
The Buffalo Bisons introduced their lineup of menu items, apparel, ballpark upgrades and improvements, and things that fans expect to see and experience this season, the 130th year of professional baseball in Buffalo, at their annual “What’s New” media event at Coca Cola Field.
The popcorn is just one of the treats on the menu at the downtown ballpark. Original Pizza Logs, already a big hit at Sabres games, are being added, along with Oreo Churros, complete with a sweet cream dipping sauce, and turkey nachos. Big Ditch Brewery, nearing completion and opening as the newest microbrew in downtown Buffalo, will be added to the roster of local craft beers.
Bisons Vice President and General Manager Mike Buczkowski lauded his grounds crew as he addressed the media. “Most of the field had 15 inches of snow, and in left field where it had drifted the snow was as high as 30 inches. They’ve pulled out all the tricks including black sand to help break up the snow to physically shoveling off. Actually today after the rain they got out the mower for the first time and actually cut the grass. So we are much more optimistic than we were in the colds of February and early March,” said Buczkowski.
Fans returning to the ballpark will immediately notice the new kelly green seats in the infield special reserved section on the 100 level. This is the first phase of seat replacement which took place last September, and it is anticipated that all chairs in the ballpark, which go back to the facility’s opening in 1988, will eventually be replaced. “The new seats are 3 inches wider than the old ones,” said Buczkowski, “and this brings the capacity of the ballpark down to 17,600.” (The former capacity was 18,025)
The most transformational change to the game itself is the addition of pace of play clocks at the ballpark; two behind home plate and the third behind the centerfield wall. Beginning this season, all the AA and AAA leagues will be using these clocks in an effort to improve the overall pace of the games. The clocks will count 2 minutes and 25 seconds between inning and 20 seconds between pitches. While warnings will be issued by the umpires during April, after May 1 teams could be penalized a ball or a strike for violating the clock rule.
Of course, the purists might howl.
Nonetheless, Bisons Public Relations Director Brad Bisbing said that the clocks were tried last fall in the Arizona Fall League, and shaved an average of 14 minutes off game times.
Bisons Director of Entertainment Matt LaSota explained that the pace of play clocks poses challenges for the entertainment staff. At Bisons games, and at almost every minor league game, between inning entertainment diversions such as frisbee tosses, run the bases contests and other challenges share space with the actual team infield warmups. “What if one of our contests gets in the way of pitchers doing warmups?” LaSota asks. “It is something we have to be more mindful of this year. There will certainly be a learning curve for our staff.”
Fans who enjoy the entertainment will certainly keep a keen eye on the mascot race this year. Celery remains winless despite so many close calls, and observers are hoping that this will be the year that she steps into the win column. On August 22, the first 4000 fans through the gate will receive a Bleu Cheese bobblehead, the third in the series of mascot bobblehead giveaways. A Luke Easter bobblehead will also be on the giveaway list (June 14).
Ethnic festival nights, the ever popular Star Wars night (July 18) and the annual Independence Day bash (July 3) with the Buffalo Philharmonic and a fireworks extravaganza are just a few of the many themed promotional nights on the calendar. “Baseball is a different kind of sport,” says Buczkowski. “People like to come out, enjoy baseball, fireworks, promotions and food. We do want to challenge ourselves. We don’t have the luxury at this level of getting a big name free agent that sells tickets. What we rely on are things that are fun, and affordable.”
It all starts in two weeks, Thursday April 9, when the Bisons take to the field against the Rochester Red Wings (game time 2:05PM). Oh, and line up early for the Buffalo Wing Popcorn. The stuff is addicting.