This year, summer nights in Lexington County will include live music, fireworks, prizes, cold beer for the grown-ups and space for kids to play – all delivered within the space of nine innings of baseball.
When the new Lexington County Baseball Stadium opens on Ballpark Road in Lexington County on Wednesday, May 27, every Lexington County Blowfish home game will include theme nights, giveaways, entertainment and interaction with the players. Each game will also feature a local nonprofit with representatives on hand to share information about the work they do. The nonprofits can also sell game tickets to supporters and keep some of the proceeds.
For example, at opening night on May 27, Harvest Hope Food Bank will be on hand, and fans who bring a canned good to donate will receive a free Blowfish rally towel.
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Bill Shanahan, who owns the Coastal League summer collegiate team with his wife, Vicki, wants every game to help better the Lexington community in some way.
“Instead of the giveaway where you just get something when you come in, we’re trying to help some nonprofits,” Shanahan said. “Sure, they need the donations, but they also need the publicity.”
Each home game will also feature a Military Family of the Night. The USO is helping the Blowfish choose families to honor. That family will throw out the first pitch, share their story between innings, and “get the best seats in the house,” Shanahan said.
There will also be standing promotions throughout the summer.
Each week will kick off with Monday Night Football at the ballpark. Fans can win prizes for wearing their favorite football team’s gear.
Tuesdays are Dog Days at the park. With every adult dog ticket purchased, the human gets in free, Shanahan joked. Owners will lead their pets in a pooch parade around the field.
Wednesdays are Ladies’ Nights, where the first 500 female fans will win a Mary Kay Cosmetics gift bag.
Thursdays are “Thursty Thirsdays” with drink specials.
Fridays are Faith Nights, with live performances by Christian musicians before the game.
On Saturdays, kids can take the field to play catch with Blowfish players before the game.
Fridays and Saturdays will also be popular nights at the ballpark for the fireworks show after those games.
“From a promotional standpoint, we know what people like. What people really like is fireworks,” Shanahan said.
Special promotions will round out the schedule of events, including a Superhero night, a “Star Wars” night, a Middle Child Appreciation Night, a “Frozen” night, and nights for Clemson and Carolina fans to show their colors.
On Splish Splash Saturday (May 30), fans are invited to wear Hawaiian shirts for a chance to win Lake Murray-themed prizes. The team will call itself the Lake Murray Blowfish that night, wearing special jerseys showing the lake and dam. Fans can bid on the jersey of their favorite player, and winners will take home the jersey after the game. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Lake Murray July Fourth fireworks display.
Similarly, special jerseys will be designed for the June 20 game, featuring pinstripes in the colors of each high school in Lexington School District One. Those jerseys will also be auctioned, with proceeds benefitting the Lexington One Foundation.
During the games, fans will be able to enjoy a view of the field from Wrigley Field-style stadium seats – or from a food and beverage court housed under a 2,000-square-foot permanent tent. Kids can hang out on “Homerun Hill,” just past left field’s low fence, for a chance to snag some home run balls. They’ll also be able to high-five the players as they run past Homerun Hill on their way from the locker room to the dugout.
Bill and Vicki Shanahan hope that residents across Lexington County will consider The Blowfish and the stadium their hometown team and ballpark. The facility has incorporated bleachers from the old Wildcat Hollow and renovated an existing locker room to pay homage to the site’s history.
“How many people watched their grandsons or granddaughters graduate here, cheerlead, play football?” Shanahan said as he looked out at the new baseball field on the site of the old football field.
“We’re taking 40 years of wonderful memories and adding new memories.”
For a full schedule of games and promotional events, visit blowfishbaseball.com/schedule.asp.
Bridget Winston, Special to Go Columbia