How Wichita is planning to pay for a new $75 million baseball stadium
There’s a lot we still don’t know about Wichita’s soon-to-be baseball team, including its name, mascot, colors, stadium layout, ticket prices, parking plan or, you know, the names of investors involved in an adjacent ballpark development.
But starting now, you can buy a season ticket for $980.
An e-mail distributed by Wichita Baseball 2020 on Thursday offers a first peek at ticket pricing for the new ball team, a Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins that is scheduled to move from New Orleans to Wichita next spring.
For a $250 non-refundable deposit, you can reserve a “priority seating” season ticket for the team’s inaugural season, which is set to begin April 14, 2020.
In what’s either a brazen act of confidence or ingenious marketing — or both — the Baby Cakes owners are wasting no time asking Wichitans to invest in their franchise. Included in their first pitch is a rendering of the ballpark development that shows a Ferris wheel on the riverbank — a feature city leaders and designers said isn’t happening.
“The sooner you put down your deposit, the higher you will be on the seat selection list once our lower bowl seating map is finalized,” says the e-mail, which went to people who participated in a name-the-team survey earlier this year.
“Want to be behind the home dugout or down the third base foul line? The sooner you submit your deposit the better chance you have to reserve your ideal seats.”
Season ticket packages will go on sale to the public on April 11, according to the e-mail.
The offer promises savings on the regular ticket price for Wichita’s new stadium. With 70 home games planned for next season, the deal works out to $14 a game. That’s $1 less than what team owner Lou Schwechheimer has said would be the team’s top ticket price.
Season ticket holders also get admission to a meet-and-greet barbecue with players, first dibs on tickets for concerts and other special events, and a limited-edition gift, the e-mail says. Commit for three years — that’s $2,940 — and you’ll get your name on your seat.
Pre-season pitches aren’t new. Two years ago, after the New Orleans Zephyrs renamed themselves the Baby Cakes, the team promised free tickets for life to every child born in Louisiana in 2017. At age 18, one of those babies would receive a full, four-year tuition to a Louisiana university of their choice, Schwechheimer said.
“We are proud to proclaim 2017 the “Year of the Baby Cake,’” he said at the time. “We are instituting ‘Baby Cake Nation’ and making each child . . . a card-carrying member so they can create their own treasured memories at the ballpark for a lifetime.”
Before those babies turned 2, the team announced it was leaving for Kansas. Will their lifetime passes be accepted in Wichita?
No doubt the new team hopes to generate excitement for Triple-A baseball and get an early gauge on the Wichita market. Early ticket offers are one way to do that. So is the live webcam of stadium construction on the city’s website.
But even better would be meaningful updates about the team’s plans, including more-than-just-conceptual details on the stadium design and surrounding development. When Wichita fans know more, they may be willing to invest.