The past three weeks have been full of changes for the Syracuse Chiefs. First, the board of directors voted on a reorganization plan that infused cash into the financially ailing team. Then Jason Smorol was announced as the team's new general manager, ending 40 years of leadership by the Simone family. Now, Smorol is announcing plans to reduce ticket prices and enhance fans' experience in the ballpark. Sarah Blazonis has more.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Jason Smorol said last week that one of his priorities was going to be reaching out to those who've stood behind the team in the past, like season ticket holders. He says it was doing just that that led to some of the changes announced Wednesday.
Phone calls took up a big part of Jason Smorol's first week as Chiefs general manager. One of those calls was with Billy from Cortland, a 35 year season ticket holder who attended just one game in 2013.
"He gave me some suggestions and I listened to him, and I said, 'That's a great suggestion, that one's not gonna work, we can't do that, that one's good,'" Smorol said.
Smorol says input like that from Billy and other season ticket holders led to changes announced Wednesday. First up: Ticket prices for the 2014 season are being reduced.
"We had one of the most expensive tickets in the International League. We had $20 seats here at the stadium," Smorol said.
Those $20 seats in the expanded exclusive seating section will now be $12 for adults $10 for kids and seniors. All seats there will also have access to in-seat food and beverage services.
General admission tickets are now $5 for adults, a $3 savings, and free for military members. Season ticket prices will stay the same, but those fans can expect other perks.
Smorol said, "That's where you intermingle with the players a little bit more. That's where you get a little extra service, you know, you're guaranteed your coffee mug, your magnet schedule, is going to be there when you show up a little bit late to the game."
Smorol says these changes were approved by the board Tuesday. He says next up is a continued review of the team's financial situation. But he hopes creating an atmosphere that caters to fans keeps them coming back and helps boost revenue.
"It's going to be so interactive this year. We've got that beautiful scoreboard out there and television cameras and talented people that know what they're doing," Smorol said. "It's going to be a whole new ballgame here."
You still are going to have to wait awhile to begin purchasing those general admission tickets. Smorol says there will be an announcement when those go on sale.
But one thing they're really going to be pushing this year is season ticket sales. That effort is actually going to start Thursday at the Centerstate Business Showcase at the Oncenter. About 400 or so season tickets were sold last year, but this year's goal is 1,000.
Smorol is hoping perks like getting to interact with players and just going that extra mile will convince people to get on board with the team.