Arkansas Travelers Embrace Changes Following Firings

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

It all points toward next season and the All-Star game, the Travelers’ once-in-eight-years chance to put their best foot forward in front of the entire league and region.

Arkansas last hosted the event at Ray Winder Field in 2006, the final season in the Travelers’ former home.

The Tulsa Drillers drew an overflow 8,047 to their 7,833-seat ONEOK Field in 2012, and that club has drawn raves from the Travelers for its production. From crowd flow to guest speakers to the pre-game gala to player availability, the Travelers will be attempting to borrow what went right from the Drillers.

“You want to walk in the gates and have it be a big production,” Allen said. “It only happens once every eight years.”

Allen said the Travelers want to include wrinkles like “jazzing up” the home run derby. He hopes to involve a number of charities, perhaps through a sale or auction of donated, high-dollar memorabilia.

When it comes to the actual game, Allen said, that should be the one night in the minor leagues where the talent on the field speaks for itself. Typically players who are named All-Stars for the first half of the season are on the fast track to the majors, and many Texas League All-Stars wind up with their big league team by the season’s end.

“It’s a special game in the sense where you have a lot of talent of the field,” Allen said.

Fiscal Outlook

The Travs are closing in on the remaining $1.26 million the team owed the city of North Little Rock as of December. North Little Rock helped fund Dickey-Stephens Park with a 1 percent, two-year sales tax approved by voters in 2005.

In December, Meeks said he expected the Travelers to retire their debt during the next two years.

In April, according to published reports, the team paid $800,350 based on revenues from 2012. The Travelers did for the first time hold back $120,000 for operation reserves, which is allowed in the contract with the city.

The withholding went to front-office improvements and is a sign the Travelers are thinking about the age of their seven-year-old ballpark.



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