Despite what the patches of snow left on the ground might say, spring is here, and that means baseball season.
And although the Fort Wayne TinCaps start the season on the road, Parkview Field will open its clubhouse doors Saturday to the public before the players unpack their bags for the April 11 home opener.
"Every year, we keep having hundreds show up," says Michael Limmer, the TinCaps' vice president of marketing . "It won't be 80 degrees outside, but we still think people will come out."
Parkview Field is only one stop on the list of attractions and events that will be happening as part of the Downtown Improvement District's monthly "Last Saturdays" program.
In an effort to revitalize the downtown area, DID works with downtown businesses, museums and educational centers to coordinate their events on the same day to give families a full schedule of activities. The program, which began in 2012, is in its second year.
DID Marketing Director Tena Woenker says the idea is similar to the "First Friday" arts and entertainment programs in other cities.
"A lot of cities do this already. We took the idea and put our own touch to it," she says.
DID is a partner of the Fort Wayne Cultural District, which includes Arts United, Visit Fort Wayne and the city of Fort Wayne. Woenker says Last Saturdays promotes arts and education with exhibits, concerts and lectures that are free or at a discounted price. There are also entertainment events such as Dick Stoner's free magic demonstrations at Stoner's Funstore on Harrison Street, or J.K. O'Donnell's free musical performance by acoustic singer Matt Capps.
"I think people really like it. We're starting to have a variety of activities going on," Woenker says. "We also have some extra special activities that don't happen all the time."
Voted as the No. 1 experience in Minor League Baseball by Stadium Journey Magazine for the second straight year, Parkview Field hosts one public open house a year. Limmer says 6,000 people came out the year the baseball field opened in 2009, and he expects nearly 2,000 people to attend Saturday. There will be a guided tour of the ballpark, including the luxury suites and the TinCaps' clubhouse.
"We know as sports fans, you always kind of wonder what goes on behind the scenes," Limmer says. "It's easy for us to do, and it's an opportunity to kick off the season."
Limmer says attendants will see the construction on the new center field venue, The 400 Club, and other new renovations. He says the goal is to show that the ballpark "isn't resting on our laurels" and that providing affordable options is always a priority.
"We're a community venture and a community partner," he says. "Price shouldn't be a reason to exclude someone."
Woenker says low-cost options make the local arts and entertainment scene accessible for families who may not usually travel downtown. With winter waning and the temperature expected to rise into the 50s Saturday, she hopes that families with cabin fever break out for the day.
"We want people to know Fort Wayne is fun all year-round," she says.