MOOSIC — Josh Olerud is ready. David Abrams is ready. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders front office and game day staffs are ready.
All the preparation is over.
It’s finally game day. The Triple-A National Championship Game is here.
“Everything’s setting up for a fantastic day and we wish Durham and Memphis a lot of luck, although we’re a little disappointed we’re not in it, but we’ll get there next year,” Abrams, the RailRiders’ co-managing owner said. “I’m very proud of our staff. They’ve done an amazing job. I’m proud of the community for rallying behind us and I think this is going to be a good showcase for us in terms of showing Minor League Baseball what northeast Pennsylvania’s all about and it’s exciting. We haven’t had an event here like this in a long time and we’re pushing real hard to host the all-star game in a couple years and this is a bit of a chance for us to do that.”
Olerud said Monday afternoon that they’re closing in on the 10,000-ticket mark and only lawn seats are available. The RailRiders president and COO expects to sell into the 11,000-range with a high show rate.
The team is advising fans to get to the ballpark early to enjoy the fan fest and be able to park in the lots at PNC Field. However, there will be overflow lots with shuttles at The Pavilion.
“We keep on double-checking that all the ‘T’s’ are crossed and all of that, but I’m excited to see this place packed,” Olerud said. “I’m excited to see all the special things we’re doing and the reactions from the fans. We’re getting lucky with weather, so that was a big relief that it’s going to be a nice night for a game. I’m excited for the people that are going to tune in all over to see what PNC Field has. We have two great teams here. This is going to be a great game.”
Not only do RailRiders have their fan fest set up to start at 4:30 p.m., but once the fans get inside the ballpark, the fun doesn’t stop.
PNC Field now has Wi-Fi and will have different campaigns going via text message. Fans can text to be entered in a raffle to get their head shaved by the “celebrity athletes” in attendance, win a meet and greet and jersey signing with the celebrity athletes and can donate to Stand Up To Cancer during the “signature Stand Up To Cancer placard moment.”
The team will also have a photographer floating around to document the event, which will later be available through a link that allows fans to download photos from the game for free.
“We’re experimenting with some technology we’ve never used before as a team and I think it’s going to make the experience much better,” Abrams said. “That kind of stuff’s exciting. We’ve never done that before and I think it’s a testament to our staff for all of the hard work they’ve put in.”
At this point, the RailRiders have done everything they can do. Now it’s showtime.
“I think it’s going to be everything we’re hoping it’s going to be,” Olerud said. “Now that everything’s really kind of tied together, there’s really nothing else but to go, ‘We’re there. We’re going to let it all happen now.’”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle