In our ‘TipicOH’ series, we highlight the people and innovations behind our amazing partners in Ohio.
Kids showing off their home run trots to a cheering stadium. Fireworks shows in the summer. High school player showcases. Movie nights, beer tasting, 5K runs. This is minor league baseball in the Midwest. It’s the kind of experience the Dayton Dragons have been offering their fans ever since they came to this Ohio city in 2000.
The Dragons, a High-A minor-league baseball affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball, have sold out every game at Day Air Ballpark since their very first home game in 2000. In 2011, they passed the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers for most consecutive games sold out — 815 — and the streak is now at 1,467 consecutive games, the longest among all pro sports teams in North America, according to the team.
Apparently, the Dragons know how to reach and retain loyal fans.
“We market to families, and then we keep marketing to families,” says Andrew Hayes, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the Dragons. “We want a completely family friendly environment, even down to our music choices.
“Everything in this park is family friendly. We want to give people the feeling of having a family night out.”
Even during the COVID pandemic, which canceled the 2020 season and mandated reduced stadium capacity, fans remained loyal.
“People kept their season ticket seats during COVID,” Hayes said. ““When our fans had to make tough financial choices during that time, the one thing many of them said they would not give up was their Dragons tickets. And that meant the world to us.”
Hayes has his own streak with the team. He started with the Dragons in 2013 while still in college and began working in operations, later became manager of ticket sales and eventually became VP of corporate partnerships.
“I love it here,” says Hayes. “There’s something about the atmosphere here that’s different than Major League Baseball. It’s not really that important if you win or lose, it’s more of a social outing.”
Go to any Dragons home game and you’ll find something to get excited about, aside from the action on the field. There are six postgame fireworks shows this season sponsored by Tipico Sportsbook: on June 9, June 23, July 4, July 22, August 5, and September 8.
There’s the High School Baseball Showcase, in which area high schools play one of their games at Day Air Ballpark.
Then there’s Kids Run the Bases, in which kids can act out a home run trot as if they’ve hit a home run, with the entire stadium cheering them on.
Even some of the Cincinnati Bengals are getting in on the action. Head coach Zac Taylor and several Bengals, including linebacker Logan Wilson and defensive end Sam Hubbard, will be participating in a celebrity softball game on June 14 at Day Air.
Part of the strategy, Hayes says, is rewarding season ticket holders with events just for them.
“We don’t do what a lot of other teams do, like bobblehead nights,” says Hayes, explaining that loyal season ticket holders might miss out if they get stuck in traffic headed toward the game and miss getting a bobblehead. “We want to reward our most loyal supporters. We want to have guarantees for all our season ticket holders.”
Aside from the fun experiences, Dragons fans have been treated over the years to seeing some of the game’s best players come through Dayton on their way to the Cincinnati Reds and other teams in the major leagues – Joey Votto, a 6-time All-Star first baseman and 2010 NL MVP winner; 2-time All-Star Todd Frazier; and pitcher Johnny Cueto, who won 20 games in 2014.
Other notable players who’ve been Dragons include Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco, Jonathan India, Jesse Winker, and Justin Turner, who won a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Fans can get amazing views of all the players from the centerfield party deck, sponsored by Tipico. It’s a multilevel area where you can have food and drinks in one area and sit and enjoy the game in another.
It’s also the only one of the three party decks at the stadium which is fully covered to keep fans shaded from the summer sun.
“It’s one of our most requested decks. You get a view that not many others have,” Hayes says.
During the team’s first homestand in June, a couple of fans commented about why they like being on the party deck.
Kristie G.: “We get a great view on the party deck and don’t have to leave to get food.”
Jack L.: “Awesome view and you’re out of the sun on hot days!”
Greg P.: “Great way to bring the whole office out at a good price. And everyone gets some swag!”
The deck was an offspring of the Dragons-Tipico partnership and both entities’ commitment to Ohio and the Dayton area.
“I think the thing that excites us the most is the alignment of Tipico’s core values with our own,” Hayes said. “The Dayton Dragons are 100% committed to the fan experience. From the time a fan steps foot into our ballpark until the second they leave, it is our duty to ensure we do everything in our power to provide them with an experience they’ll never forget.
“And Tipico mirrors that fan commitment in their never-ending pursuit of providing fans with a fantastic product, a safe and secure experience, and fan-friendly service.”
In the nearly quarter-century that the Dragons have been in Dayton, the team has been at the center of an economic resurgence.
“The city of Dayton has been tremendous to this organization since its inception in 2000,” Hayes says. “One manifestation of this overwhelming support has been the development of the area immediately surrounding the stadium over the past few years, becoming The Water Street District.
“An area that was once an underutilized industrial side of town is now unrecognizable, with brand new luxury apartments, storefronts, breweries, restaurants, and offices in every direction.
“While the Dayton Dragons may have served as the catalyst for the revitalization of this area, the community and their continued support made the transformation possible. And we can’t wait to see what’s in store over the next 23 years!”
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