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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Banks and ballparks

Courtesy Greater Pittsburgh CVB

The 1960 World Series matched a superstar-studded team, the  New York Yankees, against the underdogs, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Going into Game 7 in historic Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, the Pirates had been outscored, outhit and outplayed, but not defeated. For nine innings, the tension hung like a fog in this ivy-draped venue where cigar-smoking men in business suits crammed the stands.

History was about to be made.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Pirate Bill Mazeroski smashed a home run that won the game, and the roar was heard around this nation. Fifty years later, it remains the only World Series-ending Game 7 homer in baseball history.

It’s just one of the million reasons that baseball is America’s sport.

Part of your game plan
Although professional sports are often out of reach for a bank director’s budget, baseball just may be the exception. Depending on amenities that may include patio seating, gourmet dining and good location — typically there are no bad seats in today’s new stadiums — groups can enjoy a day at the ballpark for prices that often range from $7 to $55 per person. In addition, half-price deals, free giveaways and more are sometimes available to large groups.
Spectacular fireworks? Well, no charge at all.

And those bygone days of going to the game just to see a baseball game are indeed bygone days. Today, professional baseball stadiums are entertainment venues that offer nine innings of fun for even those who don’t know the difference between a line drive and a pop-up.

At PNC Park in Pittsburgh, a stadium along the shore of the Allegheny River with scenic vistas of the downtown skyline, bank groups can take advantage of a behind-the-scenes tour where batting cages, the Pirates dugout, the press box and an old-time museum are on the agenda, according to Kristin Mitchell, public relations liaison for Visit Pittsburgh.

“For those many group members who get goose bumps just remembering that historic 1960 World Series, save the date in late summer of 2010, the 50th anniversary of that famed game. On September 5, Mazeroski’s 74th birthday, a statue of Maz rounding the bases after his famous home run will be dedicated at the park,” said Mitchell.

Groups can see the statue near the right-field entrance to the stadium, which also features statues of three other Pirates heroes, Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.

In Atlanta’s Turner Stadium, groups can not only spend the afternoon doing the tomahawk chop but can also take a tour of the stadium that includes the Braves Hall of Fame.

“The museum takes fans back before Atlanta even had a franchise. The large collection of memorabilia includes Hank Aaron’s bat that broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, the 1995 World Series trophy, championship rings and a video on how the Centennial Olympic Stadium became Turner Field,” said Paul Adams, senior director of ticket sales.

Special access
Groups are also privy to typically off-limits areas like the Braves clubhouse, the team’s dugout, the stadium’s press box and even proximity to the enormous and iconic lighted-up Coca-Cola bottle.

At PNC Park, serious baseball fans can get up close and personal with the players by joining them during batting practice before the game.

“During this 45-minute experience, group members can talk to their favorite players, take pictures and just take in the awesome sights from field level,” said Mitchell.

Professional baseball parks have red-carpet treatment just waiting for those bank directors wanting to hit a home run with their members. “We offer spaces in such areas as our newly renovated and exclusive 755 Club presented by Delta Air Lines or open-air patios overlooking the field,” said Adams.

A variety of hospitality patios at Turner Field also feature a catering staff that prepares culinary goodies — a great idea for surprising group members who are celebrating a birthday or an anniversary.

Club 3000 at PNC Park features pool tables, television and an outdoor seating area. “While enjoying the game and the surroundings at this sports bar, your group members just may forget that you’ve arranged for their name to flash on our Jumbotron,” said Mitchell.

In Atlanta, fans are entertained by fun features between innings on a high-definition video board that is one of the largest in any sports facility in North America.

Although hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn go hand in hand with baseball, dining at a baseball park is no longer limited to this typical fare. Regional treats from famous restaurants featured on the Food Network, like the hot wings from Quaker State and Lube and the mile-high sandwiches from Primanti’s, are just a few of the restaurants located inside PNC Park.

“Turner Field also offers an upscale option that includes diverse food offerings and draft beer in our club level,” said Adams.

But, for those traditional eaters, both parks and many others offer “all-you-can-eat-seats” that allow guests to enjoy as many of those hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn and peanuts as they can consume. But be warned: No antacids are included.

Do your homework before the seventh-inning stretch
Throughout this summer season, the Atlanta Braves are offering Bobby Cox $6 Days in honor of their beloved manager, who has the longest current tenure as a manager in major league baseball and led the Braves to the World Series championship in 1995. This colorful character, who is retiring after this season, also holds the all-time record for ejections in major league baseball.

On those designated Bobby Cox days, guided tours of Turner Field are just $6.

Special celebrations like the Mazeroski statue dedication in Pittsburgh and this tribute to Cox make a trip to the baseball park even more special. When you’re making arrangements to take your group to see the boys of summer, ask if there is a special event, and plan your visit to participate in the festivities.

Here are some other tips about questions to ask the stadium’s group ticket sales manager:
• Are there days of the week that would be a better deal?
• Can we arrange for club or patio seating?
• What are our choices regarding food? Do you have any packaged ticket deals that include dining?
• Do you have any giveaway promotions?
• Can we arrange for a personal message on the Jumbotron or video board?
• What’s included on a tour of your stadium, and can we have some time on the field during batting practice?
• Can we have a special visit by your mascot?