Minor League Baseball Organization Creates Big Buzz
By Cheryl Alexander
Those who live outside of Southeast Texas may not understand the full impact that even the mention of a ‘skeeter can conjure up in the minds of the natives. It’s a thought that can incite copious scratching, swatting and spraying chemicals over entire neighborhoods. The ‘skeeter, though a tiny insect, poses a powerful threat to its prey. It’s no surprise, then, that the city of Sugar Land selected the Skeeters as the mascot of the minor league baseball team, whose home is the illustrious Constellation Field, one of the city’s true gems, located on Highway 6 at U.S. 90A.
Ever since the idea for a team and stadium was conceived back in 2007, the vision of a place where a baseball team could play ball, where families could bond watching America’s game, and where the community could come together for conventions, concerts, movies, festivals and more has brought big buzz to Fort Bend County. Among the group creating that buzz is Bob Zlotnik, the new owner of the team.
“I became interested in the concept of a baseball team and stadium in Sugar Land when I read about the idea in the newspaper. Back then I was CEO of an electric company, and we were running a campaign that I thought might pair well with the concept as a title sponsor. Plus, my family loves baseball,” explained Zlotnik. However, until recently Zlotnik was a minority interest holder in the company. Over the past year, he and his wife, Marcie, have bought the team.
Zlotnik’s vision for the team and desire for ownership was driven by his experience in corporate culture, which he describes as patron-focused. “We want to bring customers to Constellation Field by exceeding their expectations, so we hired Steve Kahan, who is an experienced executive responsible, for revamping our approach to customer service with this driving thought in mind.” Zlotnik has even published his cell phone number on the team website to show his commitment to listening to patrons and receiving feedback.
Aside from offering Fort Bend County residents one of the most amazing and luxurious stadiums in the world, the administrative team at the Skeeters is doing a superb job of setting an example of outstanding customer service from building a family environment, soliciting community involvement and providing promotions that make coming out to games fun and affordable.
Deacon Jones, baseball legend and Team Sugar Land ambassador, loves the family focus at Skeeters’ games. “Families, who these days are so busy with so many other things, come to games and really bond for two or three hours. And they may not even be huge baseball fans, though obviously we hope to change that. They may leave the game and not even remember who played or who won and that’s okay because they leave smiling and feeling closer to each other than ever.”
General Manager Chris Jones agrees. “We have been able to provide a place where the whole family can come out and enjoy something special together, which is sometimes hard to arrange at other places due to cost.”
It’s true. Where at other events, tickets alone may cost a family of four more than $200, at a Skeeters game, you can park for free, interact with the players, run the bases, eat, drink, even swim in the pool for less than $70. It’s quite remarkable.
Molly Onyett, marketing and communications manager for the team, puts it into perspective. “The family can bring a blanket, sit on the lawn and enjoy the game for $8 per person. Box seats are only $12, and since there is no bad seat in our stadium, every seat is close enough for you to get as involved as you want to in the game and interact with the players. The kids can even run the bases after the game every Sunday as part of our Sunday Fundays at Constellation Field.”
The Skeeters Buddies Kids Club offers game tickets, special events tickets, t-shirt, picture and autograph session with the team, and other great experiences and discounts on services. Birthdays at the Ballpark include group seating, a visit from the mascot, a very special “Happy Birthday” song, custom jersey, cupcakes, hot dogs, chips, drinks for everyone and more.
Deacon added, “It’s reasonably priced, safe and clean — every mother’s dream destination for a place she can bring her family no matter the occasion.”
Community groups, too, are well catered to at Constellation Field. Companies have their galas here, their company picnics and host their VIPs in style. Kyle Dawson, community relations specialist, explained that while corporate suites at other arenas may run as much as $250 per person, the suites at Constellation Field, which are just as fabulous and much closer to the action, are only $60 a ticket.
“Additionally,” Dawson added, “we do a lot for businesses, such as recognizing employees at the games, letting them throw out the first pitch and organizing client appreciation events in the picnic and pool area. We even have companies rent the stadium for the day for company softball games and fairs.”
The team also works closely on fundraising efforts with nonprofit organizations. The participating charities receive profits from ticket sales and bring participants to games. One example is their work with the Little League teams in Fort Bend County. The kids sell tickets and in return, get part of the profits as well as tickets to the game where they get to parade in front of fans and have their names announced and image blasted on the video screen.
Dawson said, “Last year we worked with four Little League groups. This year, we already have 39 groups on board. The League makes money and on League night, the parents come out and intermingle. They all get to meet each other and build community relationships.”
The 2015 season kicks off with an Opening Weekend Extravaganza April 23-26. Fireworks will light up the night sky after the games on Thursday, April 23 and Friday, April 24. The first 2,000 fans in the gates on Saturday, April 25 will receive a Skeeters hat courtesy of MemberSource Credit Union, and the team will host the first Jersey Auction of the season on Strike Out Autism day benefitting Hope for Three on Sunday, April 26.
This season, promotions abound at Constellation Field that make it fun and affordable for everyone, no matter your age or group. Along with free parking, great BBQ and the best burgers in Fort Bend County at the Ice House all the time,
special nightly promotions include Margarita Mondays when the new team margarita concoction, the Skeeterita, is discounted; Two-Steppin’ Tuesday offers Texas-sized entertainment beyond baseball; #WinningWednesdays means prizes all night, even if the Skeeters don’t win; Thirsty Thursdays enjoy discounts on drinks; Fireworks Fridays gives fans a fireworks spectacular after the game; Saturday night games become Skeeter Night Live where patrons enjoy live entertainment, giveaways and more; and Sunday Fundays include catch on the field, kids run the bases, autographs and more.
Many fan-favorite promotions are being brought back for the 2015 season including Pink in the Park (May 15), Faith and Family night (September 19) and Bark in the Park (June 27). The Remote Dig (May 31) and Diamond Dig (July 26) will allow fans a chance to dig for a great prize in the infield dirt after the game.
At the helm of the Skeeters team is former Major Leaguer and four-time Gold Glove Award winner Manager Gary Gaetti. The veteran of 26 years of professional baseball has led the Skeeters to two playoff appearances and was named the Atlantic League Manager of the Year in the team’s second season. “The players, coaches and I are incredibly lucky to play in such a high-caliber stadium like Constellation Field,” said Gaetti. “The community has really gotten behind the team and we are working
diligently this season to bring the Championship to Sugar Land.”
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, you may ask, what about the TEAM? The team is also worth celebrating. Gaetti assured that with 10 new players, “The team is ready with a great mix of speed, power and solid players. Our fans, families and community can expect a super blend of affordable fun and great baseball this season!”
Visit the site SugarLandSkeeters.com or call 281-240-4487 for more information, tickets and a full promotional schedule.