Arkansas Travelers Embrace Changes Following Firings

by Todd Traub  on Monday, Sep. 30, 2013 12:00 am  

The San Antonio Missions drew a league-worst 294,346 and averaged 4,329.

As it happened, it was the Travelers, under manager and former Boston Red Sox coach Tim Bogar, and the Missions that met in the league championship series, which went the full five games before San Antonio took the championship with a 5-0 victory on Sept. 15.

The on-field success and sometimes spotty turnouts illustrate the split personality of minor league baseball, in which future major league players compete but clubs can’t count on talent being the sole draw.

With that in mind the Travelers this year played with different ideas that included a watermelon giveaway and built suspense for their 15,000th game with a mystery gift that turned out to be free tickets for those present on Aug. 14.

“Some of those are testing the waters and seeing how people react,” Allen said. “I have a general philosophy that if you think it’s fun, we think it’s fun.”

The Travelers offset some attendance losses Aug. 3 with a mighty turnout of 9,132 for Faith & Family Night, with a concert by “American Idol” contestant Colton Dixon. It was the biggest crowd for a Travelers game since Dickey-Stephens Park opened in North Little Rock in 2007, though more have come for the Arkansas Razorbacks games played there each spring.

Allen noted that the Travelers’ average attendance was in line with the 4,531 last year and 4,625 the previous season. The club has never been an attendance leader since joining the eight-team league in 1966.

Markets like baseball-mad Springfield, Mo., and Frisco, Texas, which is in the Dallas metropolitan area, traditionally do better.

“We’re not the largest city in the league, by no means are we,” Allen said. “Average attendance was right were it was in 2012. It was right there. That said, next year, with the plan we have in place, attendance will increase.”

(See also: Paul Allen's Journey: From Critter Patrol to Arkansas Travelers GM)

Staying Relevant

Team officials have never given a specific reason for firing the popular Laven. Veteran ticket manager David Kay was also dismissed and now holds the same post at Tulsa, a club the Travelers sometimes point to as a model for doing things the right way.



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