There’s no denying the Treasure Coast is a great place to live and play during the day with its beautiful beaches, waterways, golf courses and parks.
Now that summer is arriving, are you looking for a budget-friendly source of family entertainment that touches all the bases for a fun-filled evening?
Well, here’s a pitch from Traer Van Allen, longtime general manager of the St. Lucie Mets — the Single-A Florida State League affiliate of the New York Mets and defending league champions:
“There’s something for everyone out here,’’ Van Allen said prior to the start of a recent special promotion at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie. “And you don’t have to be a baseball fan to have a good time at the ballpark.’’
In fact, Minor League Baseball was voted the Most Family-Friendly Game or Event, according to a 2018 Sports Business Journal/Daily’s Reader Survey, with 43 percent of the vote. Finishing a distant second was Major League Baseball, with 17 percent.
Experiencing fun promotions and quality play on the field by potential Major League stars comes at a reasonable price at Clover Park.
For example, Friday night is Family Night, when the Mets offer quite a deal — four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas and a family-sized tub of popcorn for $50. In a recent MiLB fan-cost survey, the average cost for a family of four was just under $70. That average price covers the cost of two adult tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, four drinks and parking.
How important are promotions to the St. Lucie Mets’ operation?
“It’s the bread and butter of what we do,’’ Van Allen said without hesitating. “Really, that’s what the people are here for. We try to make the baseball game secondary, not to take away from what the guys are doing out here [on the field].”
Kasey Blair, assistant general manager of game operations, group sales and community relations, firmly agrees.
“Oh, it’s everything,’’ said Blair, who’s in her ninth year in her current position. “People know we’re here, but we play 66 home games in a season, so we have to have different things going on to get people to come out to the games.’’
The most popular night during a homestand, by far, is Saturday when the Mets wear special-themed jerseys and then put on a crowd-pleasing pyrotechnic show after the final out.
Fans of all ages recently had a marvel-ous time enjoying Marvel Super Hero Night at Clover Park when the Mets took on the Lakeland Flying Tigers. It was part of Minor League Baseball and Marvel Entertainment’s three-year program, called Marvel’s Defenders of the Diamond Series, that began last year, featuring 96 different MiLB clubs across all four levels, including the Mets and three other FSL clubs — the Clearwater Threshers, Daytona Tortugas and Tampa Tarpons.
Each participating club hosts at least one Marvel theme night at its ballpark involving popular Marvel superhero character appearances, special Marvel-inspired uniforms, custom Minor League Baseball designed comic books and entertaining Marvel-themed interactive promotions throughout the game.
On this particular Super Hero night, the Mets wore Black Panther-themed jerseys on the field while Spider-Man was enjoying posing for photos with the younger fans in the stands and concourse.
“It’s been great,’’ said Spider-Man, who was created by Marvel Comics in 1962. “So many generations know me, so it’s great to see my fans and have fun with them instead of beating the bad guys all the time.’’
The special jerseys, like the Black Panther ones, are autographed by the players and then auctioned online for 10 days as a fundraiser for a nonprofit partner. For this game, the proceeds [approximately $6,500] from the auctioned jerseys went to Voices for Children of Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast, which supports abused, neglected and abandoned children.
Not surprisingly, the personable Blair said these special themed games on Saturdays produce a boost in attendance, compared to a weekday night game that draws between 500 and 1,000 fans, depending on the food and drink specials.
“Typically, a Saturday crowd is between 2,000 and 2,500 if we have a good partnership with the group, like we have tonight,’’ said Blair, referring to the season-high crowd of 2,363.
“Of course, a huge factor here is the weather,’’ Blair said. “We’ve been lucky today with beautiful weather, so we have a great crowd.’’
Patrick Rose of Stuart usually takes his son, Jaxson, to one or two games a year. They chose this game because of the Marvel Super Hero Night promotion.
After taking photos with Spider-Man wearing his Spider-Man mask, 8-year-old Jaxson went to the always-busy Prize Wheel booth and came away winning an eye-catching orange St. Lucie Mets Diamond Era batting practice hat.
When asked what was more fun, watching the Mets play or winning a hat that the players wear? “The hat,’’ he said while holding up the cap with Spider-Man’s autograph on the front.
BRINGS IN THE FANS
These promotions have provided an opportunity for Mets to acquire new fans over the years.
“We might have a family here for the first time because it’s Marvel Night, but they may come back 10 more times this season because of the fun they had on Marvel Night,’’ Blair said.
Alison Grandy and her family came down from Jacksonville Beach to celebrate her father-in-law’s birthday, who got them game tickets for the Marvel night. Children Kellan, 5, and Adler, 3, certainly had fun.
“They want to do everything,’’ Grandy said. “They want to get all the prizes.’’
It was their first time at Clover Park, but maybe not their last.
“It’s so nice; we like it,’’ Grandy said. “I wish we lived closer.’’
That’s an endorsement Van Allen and his staff want to hear.
“I think we’ve done a good job if the fans are here and they leave wondering, ‘Did we win the game or not?’” Van Allen said. “That means they had a good time and enjoyed being here with friends and family.’’
For the record, the Mets lost to the Flying Tigers, 6-1.
The second Marvel promotion of the season is Defenders of the Diamond Night, set for June 10. The “Marvelized’’ St. Lucie Mets logo will be on their jerseys to support Florida Special Olympics.
Captain America will be the guest superhero, entertaining fans … just like the fireworks crackling in the summer night, providing more bang for the family dollar.
WHERE: Clover Park
ADDRESS: 31 Piazza Drive, Port St. Lucie
BOX OFFICE: 871.2115
DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 95 to Exit 121 [St. Lucie West Boulevard] and go east for about a half-mile to the first traffic light. Turn left onto NW Peacock Boulevard. The stadium is about a mile on the right.
Planning summer outings for the family? Here is the schedule of the St. Lucie Mets special promotions through the end of the season in September:
Saturday, June 10: Marvel Defenders of the Diamond Night
The Mets will wear special Marvel-themed jerseys to support Florida Special Olympics. Captain America will be on site entertaining fans. Fireworks after the game.
Thursday, June 29, to Saturday, July 1: Military Appreciation Weekend
The Mets will wear military-themed jerseys to support the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 566. Thursday: Free veteran tickets through VVA Chapter 566. Friday: Blue Star Mothers honored. Saturday: Gold Star Mothers honored.
Monday, July 3: Independence Day Celebration
The Mets will wear special jerseys celebrating Independence Day. There’ll be a pregame softball game and home run derby to benefit Southeast Florida Honor Flight. Best fireworks show on the Treasure Coast will take place after the game.
Saturday, July 15: Christmas in July
The Mets will wear Christmas-themed jerseys to support the WPSL Christmas Kids and Christmas 4 Kids. Get a free ticket by bringing a toy donation to benefit the WPSL Christmas Kids. Santa will be on site entertaining fans. Fireworks after the game.
Saturday, July 29: Maddie’s Fight Night
The Mets will support the Maddie’s Fight Foundation by wearing special-themed jerseys. The Port St. Lucie nonprofit organization provides financial assistance to families of children with cancer and supports research for osteosarcoma treatment. Fireworks after the game.
Friday, Aug. 18: Back to School Night
Students K-12 will be given free tickets to enjoy St. Lucie Mets baseball with family and friends after completing their first full week of class.
Saturday, Aug. 19: Boo Bash Halloween Celebration
It’s early Halloween at the ballpark! The Mets will wear special Halloween-themed jerseys to support the Boys and Girls Club. Activities include stadium trick-or-treating and costume contest. Fireworks after the game.
Saturday, Sept. 9: First Responders Night
The Mets will wear special jerseys to support area first responders, who’ll get free admission that night. Fireworks after the game.
Sunday, Sept. 10: 9/11 Memorial Game
There will be a pregame ceremony in remembrance and honor of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon in northern Virginia. First pitch is 12:10 p.m.
Visit milb.com/st-lucie/tickets/promotion for a complete listing of all game promotions, including opponents, game times and auction dates for the special-themed jerseys.
© Port St. Lucie Magazine | Indian River Media Group