How do you boost flat attendance at South Bend Silver Hawks games? How about a new promotion coming in 2012 called Flat Screen Fridays. “We’re also going to give away flat screen TV’s every single inning, every single Friday, so people will place their name with their information into a pot and names will be drawn every single inning. We’ll bring them down on the field and come get their flat screen,” said new team owner Andrew T. Berlin of Chicago.
The revelation came at a press conference today as Berlin finalized the latest renovation plans for Coveleski Stadium. While the City of South Bend has already committed $1.75 million in public funds for the project, Berlin today announced he would contribute more. “I’ll be putting in approximately $2.25 million of my own money into this ball park, the feeling being, if I’m going to be here for awhile and I have signed an agreement has a cumulative 20 year commitment, I think I can get a return on investment on that,” said Berlin.
Most of the upcoming renovations are more about the fans than about the players or the game.
For instance, beyond right field a beer garden will be torn down and a fountain like device known as a splash pad will be provide a place where kids can go and get wet.
“There’s going to be a water park out there, where it’s going to be a big splash pad, lot of dancing fountains and so forth,” said Andrew Berlin. “We’re also putting a changing room out there knowing full well that as a parent you’ve got wet kids now at a ball park what do you do with all the wet clothes?”
Beyond the left field wall plans call for about a half dozen inflatable ‘bounce houses.’ “I’ve seen inflatables before and they come in all different sizes. We’re going for the biggest ones we can find,” said Berlin.
In 2012, in addition to fireworks, there will be make-shift fire places at the Cove. The gas fired heaters will be strategically placed to warm fans on chilly game nights. “Come out, give us one shot, and I know you’re going to enjoy yourself and want to come back,” said Joe Hart, Silver Hawks President.
Hart is a soon-to-be transplant from Port Charlotte, Florida, where he earned 2011 honors as Florida State League Executive of the Year. “You know when people leave here, you know, if they don’t know if we won or lost, that’s fine with me because that means they’ve had a great time,” said Hart.
The latest renovation plans also call for converting an old synagogue beyond right field into a team souvenir store. While Berlin first rejected the idea, saying it would be less expensive to build a brand new team store inside the ball park, he recently changed his mind. “It’s an architectural gem for the city, it would be a shame to lose it, so we’re going to renovate it and we’re going to turn it into a merchandise store and possibly some concessions.”
The list of improvements also includes the construction of outdoor suites and a new commissary for food preparation. More than $100,000 will be spent to improve the stadium’s audio visual system.
It’s hoped that the improvements will be completed by opening day on April 9th.