The Mississippi Braves will have the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in town April 7 to mark the start of their 11th season at Pearl’s Trustmark Park. First pitch is 7 p.m.
The 2016 season for the Double A Southern League club brings the return of many of the same promotions as last year, minus the bobblehead doll giveaways and the Saturday afternoon tailgating sessions.
“We eliminated some that weren’t doing too well,” General Manager Steve DeSalvo said. “We came to the conclusion that people just don’t want to tailgate for baseball.”
As for the bobbleheads, the club decided that the frequent trades by the parent Atlanta Braves left too few opportunities to make recognizable dolls of players who made stops in Pearl on their way to the big club.
But the customary promotions such as Friday and Saturday post-game fireworks, two-for-one Tuesdays, first-responder Wednesdays and thirsty Thursdays will return.
Also returning is the “Hit a Home Run for Special Olympics” charity softball game. This year the game scheduled for June 21 will feature well-known figures from Mississippi sports, media and government, including Gov. Phil Bryant. It will be part of a double-header, with the nightcap being the Southern League All-Star game at 7:30. DeSalvo said an exact time for the softball showcase has not been set but will be at either 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.
“The good news is they (the Special Olympics) will get a bigger contribution this year” by pairing with the All-Star game, DeSalvo said.
One change this season will be in stadium food service. Professional Sports Catering will manage all aspects of the food operation at Trustmark Park, according to DeSalvo.
The food and beverage company focuses exclusively on minor league and spring training baseball.
While the catering company has been hired for food service at stadiums throughout the Atlanta Braves’ system and will offer new food items and menus, DeSalvo said the local flavor of the offerings of previous years will be maintained. ‘Everything (the caterer) does has to receive our permission,’ he said.
Much of the food will be prepared at kiosks throughout the stadium, “where you’ll actually see the food cooked right in front of you,” DeSalvo said.
The Farm Bureau Grill beyond the outfield fences will continue to offer fans an opportunity to dine before and during games.
The Family Fun Zone of inflatable and interactive activities will return, as will the Picnic Pavilion.
Also this season, fans will see the first ticket price increase in the team’s 11 years in Pearl. All tickets except general admission, which will stay $6, will go up $1. Bargains on ticket packages will also remain, however.
“With ticket packages you can still get good reserve seats for $7 or $8,” he said.
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