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May 21, 2018 FOCUS: Business of Sports

NB Bees see higher ticket sales amid grassroots outreach

Brad Smith General Manager, New Britain Bees

Q&A talks with Brad Smith, the general manager of the New Britain Bees, which is in its third season playing in the Atlantic League, a minor-league professional baseball organization. The team is coming off a season in which its attendance fell by 20,000 visitors to the lowest in the league.

Q. The New Britain Bees have begun their third season of play. What can fans expect this season that will be different from last year when they visit New Britain Stadium?

A. Fans will notice an increase in attendance as we have ramped up our group sales efforts.  Also, the Alvarium “BeerHive” has been a big early season hit with our fans.  We have teamed up with the local brewery Alvarium, and turned our third base rooftop bar into a great place to watch the game and drink Alvarium beer.

Q. How are ticket sales and group sales trending this year compared to last year?

A. We have been real aggressive with our group sales efforts, really focusing at the grassroots level.  Year to date, our group ticket sales are up 50 percent.  It is a tried-and-tested model in minor league baseball.

Q. Dunkin' Donuts Park and the Hartford Yard Goats took minor-league baseball by storm last year and drew major crowds throughout most of the season. How can you compete against the Yard Goats in terms of attracting fans and corporate dollars? Did the New Britain Bees learn anything from the Yard Goats' success last year?

A. We have a beautiful stadium maintained by the city of New Britain, a very affordable price point for all our tickets, and a very experienced and dedicated sales staff.  We have 12 former major leaguers on our roster as well as Wally Backman as our field manager.  It is our job to continue to spread the word that we play a very high level of baseball at New Britain Stadium and that our entertainment value for the fans is second to none.

Q. You were named GM of the Bees last September but you also previously worked with the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team. How does the New Britain baseball market compare to Bridgeport's, which recently lost its minor league team?

A. The biggest difference between New Britain and Bridgeport is the support the city of New Britain provides for the maintenance and upkeep of the stadium and playing surface.  The city staff takes great pride in maintaining a clean and first-rate stadium.  The playing surface is maintained by the city as well and is in great shape.

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