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Dayton Dragons' opening day is just a few weeks away; 22-year sellout streak at risk

Day-Air Ballpark during a midsommar game in 2021
Day-Air Ballpark during a midsommar game in 2021.

The local baseball team says they have sold out more than 1,000 consecutive home games since they were founded more than 20 years ago. They say that streak is at risk of being broken this year.

Opening day for the Dayton Dragons is just a few weeks away. The beloved local baseball team says they have sold out more than one thousand consecutive home games since they were founded more than 20 years ago. But they say that streak is at risk of being broken this year. WYSO spoke with Executive Vice President Eric Deutsch to see what’s going on.

Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity)

Eric Deutsch: This time of the year is always our busiest time. We've got all things gearing up to get the stadium up and running and get our game programming off to the races. We've had our national anthem tryouts, which is always a good sign that baseball is around the corner. Our box office also opened downtown for single game ticket sales on March 15.

But what we're really doing right now is we're kind of in our home stretch on our season ticket campaign and working on trying to get as many tickets sold as possible for the coming season.

Chris Welter: So, Eric, what's going on with the sellout streak?

Eric: Yeah, this community has done something that no other community in our country has done over the past 22 years and that is that every one of our baseball games that we have held in Dayton has been sold out.

We currently sit at 1441 games. I think it's a very good testament to the community of Dayton and the civic pride and how loyal they are and just how much fun our downtown is and how much fun the ball games are. What's really interesting is that we're dealing with Single-A players who really have not become household names until maybe 2 to 3 years afterwards when they have become something in the major leagues.

So it's really more about just having a good time and using tickets for family or business use. Currently, we're working through our season ticket renewals and a new sales campaigns. We revamped our ticket programs to include more added value of free money at the ballpark in the form of a gift card, gifts, events and a lot of other things that make it great to be a season ticket holder. We've just been tiering a little bit off compared to past years to hit our sellout goal. So we've kind of enlisted media and community leaders to help us reach out to our community to see if we can keep that streak together.

RELATED: Dayton approves $7 million in bonds for Dragons’ baseball stadium

Chris: What do you think a streak like that says about the Dayton community?

Eric: Well, I think if you rewind back to the mid to late 90s when the downtown Dayton area was kind of lagging and languishing and community leaders thought we needed a jumpstart in our downtown to make it more viable for working, playing, and living. Baseball was that first domino to fall. What it proved was that the urban myths that it would not be fun in downtown, there's nowhere to park in downtown. It's hard to get into downtown and this is not going to be a good thing for downtown.

Basically, that idea died an ugly death after our first home game and that allowed a lot more promise to spring up in and it became fun to come to the ball game downtown. Downtown Dayton has now developed with over $3 billion in investments that have happened in our downtown since the year 2000. I think it really has become a great place to work, live and play and I think we do a good job entertaining people when they come to the ball games.

Chris: So if people do buy a single game ticket or become a season ticket holder, what can they expect if they come out to a game?

Eric: Yeah, and no offense to the baseball folks but you know, the way we kind of approach the product is we kind of control what you can control. We can’t control wins and losses, so we definitely want to make sure that people are not paying an arm and a leg, our games are very affordable. We want to make sure it's fun so that we're entertaining people when they arrive at the ballpark, up into pregame, in between innings and on the way home. We want to make sure the facility is clean and in topnotch order and we've done a good job with that over 23 years. We want to make sure the food and beverage experience is great and we want to make sure the customer service experience is great.

So, with a lot of customer care and programming we make sure that it's not so much about wins and losses, but that it’s about fun and laughs and memories and experiences, that's been kind of the key equation to why people have been coming back for 22 years.

RELATED: Dayton Dragons Extend Stadium Lease, May Jump to 'High-A' Baseball

Chris: What about on the field? What can people expect to see this year?

Eric: Yeah, in 2021 we got promoted from what they call low A to high A, so I think we'll get more of the higher round draft picks every year, a little bit more of the seasoned veterans who could have a shot to make it to Double-A. They say if you can do well in Double-A then you have a chance to make it to the big leagues. The last few years we've gotten some really great prospects that I think is because the Reds have been a little bit down, so then they've also been able to get more of our prospects into a Reds uniform. The last couple of years it's been great. So, I think you'll see young men working very hard, you know, hustling, running out plays. They've got to improve and get better every year to make it up to the next level and try to become a professional athlete. All the guys come in with great press clippings from high school or college, and they're definitely working hard every day to try to make it up to the big leagues.

Dayton Dragons single game and season tickets are available here and at the team’s downtown box office.

Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.