1 The 2020 season was lost to the pandemic. How did that affect TinCaps operations and plans for this season?
More than 80% of our organization's revenue comes from hosting TinCaps games, so losing the 2020 season was unfortunately a massive blow, especially since the pandemic hit just before our season was scheduled to start and we'd invested considerable finances toward it. We were forced to furlough our full-time staff and weren't able to employ several hundred part-time employees like in a typical year. Looking to this season, thankfully, our full-time staff is back and we are again actively hiring hundreds for seasonal positions.
2 The 2021 season begins May 4. We're nearing “normal” with vaccinations underway, but we're not there yet. How did you approach preparing for baseball this summer in Fort Wayne?
Our foremost goal is to continue offering our fans the affordable family fun they've loved for years in a healthy and safe environment. Our staff has been working diligently for months with the Allen County Department of Health and Major League Baseball to have an approved plan for seating options and all other aspects of our operations. That said, we've also been focused on everything else we typically need to – coming up with entertaining promotions, maintaining Parkview Field as a facility to look like it's still brand new, and so much more.
3 How have those preparations differed from preparations in past years for an upcoming season?
Preparations for this season have been unlike anything else before. For example, in the past, our focus has been on selling as many tickets as we can. This year, with a limited capacity to start, we've had to focus on making sure we can accommodate all of our season-ticket holders and groups, while also having seats available on a single-game basis. It's been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
4 What can fans expect when they arrive at Parkview Field this season?
Masks will be required for folks to enter and remain in the ballpark to start the season. From a health and safety standpoint, the biggest difference fans will notice on Opening Day is distanced seating, with seats sold in pods. In addition to other measures, another thing that'll stand out is we've added hand-sanitizer stations around the ballpark. Beyond COVID protocols, though, fans this year can expect a better experience than ever before as we have a new HD LED video board and sound system as well as other new video screen displays around Parkview Field.
5 The ballpark will host 29 college and high school games this month. Do you see those as kind of a segue into the 2021 season? In what ways?
We just had our first baseball games at Parkview Field since Labor Day 2019 with Purdue Fort Wayne in action this past weekend and still have 26 more games to go this month featuring 44 different high school and college teams from our area. Besides being an amazing opportunity for the kids in this region to play at a top-notch professional venue, it's also like spring training for our staff. These games serve as a chance for our crew to adapt to some of the new health and safety protocols in place, plus knocking off some rust when it comes to executing our in-game promotions, quick concession lines and more.