Sports Tournaments over Weekend Generate $1.7 Million Economic Impact in Huntsville

Huntsville isn’t just a high-tech town known for helping put man on the moon.

It’s also a magnet for competitive sports tournaments that attract thousands of visitors and produce millions of dollars each year in the community. In fact, the Southeastern Short Course Championships and NASA Volleyball Bash this past weekend had an economic impact of more than $1.7 million in Huntsville alone, the city announced in a news release.

With more than 25 sporting events scheduled for 2020, the Huntsville Sports Commission reports an economic impact of over $2 million already this year in Huntsville. Sports Commission Executive Director Ralph Stone said this past weekend was a great example of Huntsville’s potential in the sports tourism industry.

“It was a great weekend for sports business in Huntsville,” he said. “With a combined economic impact of over $1.7 million for the City, it goes to show why the Huntsville Sports Commission does what we do.”

Below are main specs from both tournaments over the Feb. 21-23 weekend:

Southeastern Short Course Championships

  • Host: Huntsville Swim Association
  • Total Economic Impact: $870,312
  • Participants: 945
  • Daily Spectators: 1,890
  • Room Nights: 2,044

NASA Volleyball Bash

  • Host: NASA Volleyball Club
  • Total Economic Impact: $855,672
  • Participants: 1,704
  • Daily Spectators: 2,500
  • Room Nights: 1,864

Nancy Rickmeyer, tournament director for NASA Volleyball Bash, said this year’s event at the Von Braun Center was one of its best competitions yet. Downtown Huntsville was also a key factor in making the event so successful, she said.

“Downtown Huntsville has more opportunities than ever for dining, shopping and activities close to the VBC for all participants,” she said.

The Southeastern Short Course Championships also went well, thanks to partnerships within the community, according to Huntsville Swim Association Head Coach Matt Webber.

“The Southeastern championship meet is as well run a meet as you will find in the country,” he said. “The support we receive from the City of Huntsville, Huntsville Sports Commission and Huntsville Parks and Recreation Department is unmatched in terms of contributing to successful competitions.”

A recent study by WinterGreen Research estimates the youth sports industry is a $19.2 billion market in the U.S., rivaling the size of the $15 billion NFL. As traveling sports teams grow in popularity, that figure jumps to $24.9 billion worldwide.

Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the Southeastern Short Course Championships and NASA Volleyball Bash demonstrated the critical role sports tourism plays in Huntsville’s economy.

“It’s evident in the past weekend’s events and in others like the inaugural Huntsville Championship professional golf tournament in April and the U.S. Tennis Association’s national championship for 16-and-under girls this July, and so many other competitions,” she said. “It’s a testament to the excellent facilities and the city leadership in recognizing the benefit of sports to our community.”

Rocket City Trash Pandas: As Much About Fun as Baseball

MADISON — Just weeks away from the Rocket City Trash Pandas throwing their first strike at Toyota Field in Town Madison, the Madison Chamber of Commerce heard from the “Voice of the Trash Pandas,” Josh Caray.

Josh Caray: “It’s about fun, whether you are a baseball fan or not.” (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

Caray, the team’s Director of Broadcasting and Baseball Information, gave the Chamber a preview of upcoming attractions during its quarterly luncheon at the Best Western Plus on Madison Boulevard.

“Thank you for being the home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. It’s been wonderful getting to know the community and we look forward to a very long and prosperous relationship,” said Caray. “It’s been a long journey … we are very excited about what we and this community have to offer.

“It’s going to be the talk of the town not just this year, but for the next several decades to come, so we’re excited about it and happy to be a part of it.”

The Trash Pandas make their home debut April 15 in Toyota Field against the Mississippi Braves. They open their inaugural season April 9 in Birmingham against the Barons.

Caray gave an overview of coming attractions for the Trash Pandas and, as odd as it may sound, he said Minor League Baseball is not so much about baseball as it is a carnival atmosphere with a baseball diamond as its crown jewel.

“The great part about Minor League Baseball is that fans will see the best of what the Minor League system has to offer not only in the Trash Pandas, but in the talent on opposing, visiting teams,” he said. “Double-A baseball is a must-stop if you are a big-time prospect.

“At some point, whether a player starts in rookie ball, Single-A, or High-A, they must stop at Double-A at some point [on their way to the Major League] because it’s such an important point of development.

“One day in two or three years, you will flip on the television and see them playing in the Majors, perhaps play in or win the World Series and say, ‘I remember when I saw him hit a ball out of left field in my ballpark’ or ‘I have an autographed picture of me with him’. It’s fun to watch how they are succeeding in their professional careers.”

Fans of the former Huntsville Stars saw that very scenario play out in Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

The other things to understand, he said is that Minor League Baseball is about the experience.

“It’s about fun, whether you are a baseball fan or not,” he said. “You want the Trash Pandas to win, but if they don’t, it’s all right. We want you to watch the game, but we also want you to get up and walk around.

“Baseball is a long game, three hours in most cases and you won’t be able to keep the kids still that long, so walk them over to the (Kids Zone) playground; visit the Team Store and buy some merchandise; go up to the Rock Porch and have drinks with friends; visit the stadium restaurant. And if, at the end of the game you forgot who won or what the score was, so be it.”

Toyota Field will be open year-round and host concerts, weddings, parties, business meetings and the like.

One of the unique aspects of Toyota Field is that it will be open year-round. Caray said there will be concerts and festivals in the ballpark and there will be a hospitality area for weddings and wedding receptions, bachelor parties, company outings, holiday parties and a place for team-building sessions.

The Trash Pandas just hired Executive Chef Ryan Curry, recently named one of the best chefs in Minor League Baseball and there will be a wide variety of great food at the stadium. Panera Bread Company, Outback Steakhouse and The Hub will all be within walking distance of the stadium.

Caray said the field has a 360-degree open concourse so if you have seats behind home plate, you can still get up and walk around the entire complex and still see the game.

“Go sit out on the berm and get a suntan; go watch from the outfield or the (Inline Electric) Rock Porch next to the video gameboard ….,” he said. “When it’s hot, there is an air-conditioned suite area with an outdoor patio, so you have the best of both.”

The stadium holds 7,500, including fixed seats and standing-room. There is a party area beyond the bullpen along the left field wall; hospitality suites that seat 75 to 90 people, perfect for group meetings and parties; and a picnic area for large groups of up to 400.

There are also six single-game suites seating up to 25; and the SportsMed Stadium Club along the first-base line that can be booked as well for non-game day events.

Next season, the Hotel Margaritaville should be up and running and the ballpark will be integrated with it, a lazy river, and a swimming pool.

“We are building a year-round revenue-generator with the baseball park as its crown jewel and fun built up all around it with apartments, homes, high-rises, brewhouses, restaurants, and retail outlets,” Caray said.

“I swear we will have a parking lot!” he said to laughter. “If it stops raining, we will have a parking lot with room for about 2,000 cars; plenty of lighting and a live sound system.”

Caray said single-game tickets go on sale March 14 and will range from $8 to $20. There are still some season tickets available and sponsorship and business opportunities available to get involved with the team.

Since the Trash Pandas’ store opened at Bridge Street Town Centre in November 2018, they are closing in on $3 million in merchandise sales (at the store and online) with customers from as far away as Bora Bora, Paris, Ireland and Alaska.

Furthermore, the Trash Pandas have more than 10,000 Twitter followers and they haven’t thrown a single pitch!

For Caray, broadcasting baseball is a family tradition as he comes from a long line of famous baseball broadcasters.

Josh’s grandfather was Harry Caray, a 53-year Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster best known as the voice of the Chicago Cubs during the 1980s and 1990s when the Cubs aired nationwide on Superstation WGN.

He is the son of the late Skip Caray, the longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster. His brother, Chip Caray is a TV broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves and Fox Sports.

“My dad was behind the mic when Sid Bream slid across home plate to win the 1992 National League Championship Series on Frank Cabrera’s big hit, and when Marquis Grissom made that winning catch in the 1995 World Series,” said Caray.

All Trash Panda games will be carried live on WUMP 730 AM and 103.9 FM. They will also be streamed online using the TuneIn app, and all home games will air via video streaming on MiLB.com (https://www.milb.com/live-stream-games/subscribe).

“First pitch will be at 6:35 p.m. giving people time to get off work, go home, pick up the kids, and go to the game,” said Caray.

Friday games will begin at 7:05 p.m. Saturdays are Fireworks Night beginning at 6:05 p.m. Sunday games will begin at 2:05 p.m. from April through June and move to 5:05 p.m. July through September to help with the heat. For information, visit trashpandasbaseball.com.

 

 

Rocket City Trash Pandas Unveil Promotions Calendar

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas have released their Inaugural Season promotions calendar featuring fireworks, theme nights, bobblehead giveaways and “Mutt Mondays.”

“We are working non-stop to create a memorable fan experience every time we open the gates at Toyota Field,” said Lindsey Knupp, Vice President of Marketing, Promotions and Entertainment. “Promotions and giveaways are the first step to an unforgettable night at the ballpark.

“We are grateful to our sponsors, without whom many of these great nights for our fans would be possible.”

Promotions start in earnest Opening Night with post-game fireworks sponsored by Toyota. The season features fireworks after every Thursday and Saturday home game – including an extravagant July 3rd Independence Day celebration.

In a special nod to the legacy of the Huntsville Stars, the Trash Pandas are hosting Stars Throwback Night May 22. The team will be wearing special Huntsville Stars uniforms when the Biloxi Shuckers – the former Huntsville Stars franchise – visit Toyota Field.

Bobbleheads, among the most popular giveaways in baseball, are also in the Trash Pandas lineup. On April 28, the first 1,500 fans 14 and under will receive a Sprocket Trash Can bobblehead. On May 17, Sprocket Jersey bobbleheads will also be given to the first 1,500 fans 14 and under.

Every Monday is Mutt Monday with the first 500 dogs receiving a special gift.  Dogs will be permitted at Toyota Field in designated “dog zones.” Dogs will not be permitted in the general seating bowl.

Fridays are Free Shirt Fridays with the first 2,000 fans ages 15 and older to receive a complimentary T-shirt.
Sunday may be a day of rest but not for younger fans: All kids can run the bases after every Sunday home game.

The Trash Pandas, led by manager Jay Bell, open their Southern League home schedule April 15 at Toyota Field in Madison.

Preliminary Promotional Calendar (subject to changes and additions)
April 15, 6:35 p.m., Opening Night Fireworks Spectacular, sponsored by Toyota
April 16, 6:35 p.m., Seat cushions, first 4,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by Crestwood Medical
April 17, 7:05 p.m., College Night/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by Calhoun Community College
April 18, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by WOW!/2020 Magnet Schedule, first 5,000 fans
April 19, 2:05 p.m., Athletic socks, first 1,500 kids 14-under, sponsored by Bill Penney Toyota
April 25, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks

The Trash Pandas will host Huntsville Stars Throwback Night on May 22.

April 26, 2:05 p.m., The Bright Side Sports Dog Performance
April 27, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog leashes, first 500 dogs, sponsored by Leidos
April 28, 6:35 p.m., Sprocket Trash Can Bobblehead, first 1,500 kids 14-under, sponsored by Kirkland’s Pest Control
April 29, 12:05 p.m., Class Field Trip/Education Day
May 6, 6:35 p.m., Dance Night
May 7, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
May 8, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
May 9, 6:05 p.m., “Star Wars” Night/” Star Wars” Jersey Auction/Fireworks
May 10, 2:05 p.m., Mother’s Day/Wine Glass giveaway, 2,000 women 15-over/Mother’s Day Cap Raffle
May 16, 6:05 p.m., Armed Forces Day/Armed Forces Jersey Auction/Fireworks
May 17, 2:05 p.m., Sprocket Jersey Bobblehead, 1,500 kids 14-under, sponsored by Lexus
May 18, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog Bowls, first 500 dogs
May 19, 6:35 p.m., International Day/Mini Flags, sponsored by GlobalTies Alabama
May 21, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by Inline Electric Supply
May 22, 7:05 p.m., Huntsville Stars Throwback/Throwback Jersey Auction/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15over
May 23, 6:05 p.m., Scout Sleepover/Fireworks
May 25, 12:05 p.m., Memorial Day/Military Cap, first 2,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by WOW!
June 1, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog Bandannas, first 500 dogs
June 2, 6:35 p.m., Stadium Replica, first 4,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by Toyota
June 4, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks

June 5, 7:05 p.m., LGBQT Night/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
June 17, 6:35 p.m., Soccer Night
June 18, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks

The Trash Pandas are hosting a Third of July Fireworks Spectacular.

June 19, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
June 20, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by Budweiser
June 21, 2:05 p.m., Father’s Day/Adult Cap/Father’s Day Cap Raffle, first 2,000 men 15-over
June 30, 6:35 p.m., Faith and Family Night
July 2, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by Lexus
July 3, 7:05 p.m., Third of July Fireworks Spectacular/Patriotic Jersey Raffle/Patriotic Cap Raffle
July 10, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
July 11, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
July 13, 6:05 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog Chew Toy, first 500 dogs
July 14, 12:05 p.m., Camp Day
July 23, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
July 24, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
July 25, 6:05 p.m., Christmas in July/Fireworks
July 26, 5:05 p.m., Kids Club Parade
Aug. 6, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 7, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
Aug. 8, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 10, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday
Aug. 13, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 14, 7:05 p.m., Superhero Night/Superhero Jersey Auction/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
Aug. 15, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 24, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday
Aug. 26, 6:35 p.m., Football & Cheer Day
Aug. 27, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Sept. 3, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Sept. 4, 7:05 p.m., Havoc Hockey Night/Havoc Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
Sept. 5, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
Sept. 7, 12:05 p.m., Fan Appreciation Day/2021 Magnet Schedule, first 5,000 fans

Rocket City Trash Pandas Announce Single-Game Ticket Sales Date

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas have announced that individual game tickets – including Opening Night – will go on sale to the general public March 14 and March 15 at the Toyota Field box office only. Online sales of single game tickets will be offered beginning March 16.

Grand Opening Weekend for the ticket office and The Junkyard Team Store will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 14; and, noon to 6 p.m. March 15. The opening of The Junkyard will offer numerous Inaugural Season merchandise items for the first time.

“We can now answer the number one question Trash Pandas fans have asked for more than a year: ‘When do single-game tickets go on sale?’,” said President and CEO, Ralph Nelson, “We appreciate the patience, enthusiasm and support our fanbase has shown throughout this journey and we are excited that this day is finally upon us.

“Like all Trash Pandas events leading to Opening Day, this will be a party – all weekend long.”

Aside from the chance to purchase tickets, the weekend will feature live music, family entertainment, and allow fans to experience Toyota Field for the first time. Ticket purchasers will have the opportunity to sit in their seats, as the concourse level will be open to the public.
Ticket prices are: Box seats: $16 in advance; $18 day of game; Reserved seats: $14 in advance, $16 day of game; General admission (standing room, Budweiser Berm and Inline Electric Rock Porch): – $8; Standing room with SportsMED Stadium Club access: $25. Children 2 and under are admitted free.

Ticket purchases are limited to 12 per game for each customer. For those desiring to purchase more than 12 seats for a game, they should contact the Trash Pandas Group Sales Department at (256) 325-1549.

Season tickets, 23- game Mini-Plans and group outings are on sale now. Call (256) 325-1546 to order; or, visit www.trashpandasbaseball.com.

The Toyota Field Opening Day is April 15 against the Mississippi Braves at 6:35 pm.

T-H Marine Lands Maurice Sporting Goods Marine Division

Huntsville-based T-H Marine Supplies has acquired First Source, the marine accessory division of Maurice Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods distributors in the United States. First Source will operate as a standalone division of T-H Marine in Fort Myers, Fla.

“We’re thrilled to complete our largest revenue acquisition to date,” said T-H Marine CEO Jeff Huntley. “Our new First Source division will allow T-H Marine to expand into new product categories and continue to grow our product portfolio that we offer to both our OEM and Aftermarket customer bases.

T-H Marine CEO Jeff Huntley

“The First Source expertise also greatly strengthens our capabilities in aftermarket retail and e-commerce channels for our customers. We have built a strong platform for the past 45 years that is rooted in deep relationships with our customers, who depend on us for quality boating and fishing accessories. We look for great acquisitions like First Source that can really help us bring more value to our customers and continue to provide more awesome products for the boating and fishing enthusiasts that love our brands.”

First Source was founded in 2004 as a turn-key direct import source, with deep overseas relationships, that helps to design, manufacture, package, test, and supply companies with marine and paddle sports products. Their expertise is highly valued by their customers, particularly with co-founder Read Samples leading and utilizing his more than 30 years in the marine industry.

“We are blessed to be joining longtime customer T-H Marine, a solid and rapidly growing company that truly knows the marine and fishing accessory markets,” said Read Samples, General Manager of First Source. “T-H will allow our team to expand into more product categories becoming more meaningful to our customers, including more OEM product opportunities. The T-H Marine team shares our passion for bringing awesome, innovative products to market and for really taking care of our customers.”

First Source provides customers access to a broad range of design capabilities, procurement resources, products, packaging vendors, and logistics management services in a single source provider. T-H Marine has been a customer of First Source for many years along with many other manufacturers, distributors and major retailers.

This was T-H Marine’s eighth acquisition in the past decade contributing to its annual growth of 20 percent over that time, Huntley said of the 45-year-old family-owned company.

“We will continue working on more acquisitions and more organic product development to continue growing our stable of brands and our breadth of awesome products,” he said. “We have such great customers who continue to buy and believe in us and our brands … We hope we can keep this up and continue to find great products and brands that are ready to be launched or taken to the next level.”

Rocket City Trash Pandas Set Date for Toyota Field Ribbon-Cutting

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas have set the date to cut the ribbon at Toyota Field and also announced a slate of games at the stadium involving UAH, Alabama A&M and local high schools.

The ribbon-cutting will be April 6 between games of a doubleheader featuring Madison’s high school baseball teams. Festivities begin at 4 p.m.

“One cannot imagine how thrilled our organization is for this day,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “This isn’t just a day of pride for the Trash Pandas organization, but it’s also a celebration for the City of Madison, Mayor Paul Finley, the City Council, and, most of all, our fans.

“Toyota Field is the best stadium in Minor League Baseball and we can’t wait for our fans to see it.”

The Bob Jones Patriots will host Hartselle High School at 4 p.m. in the first game of the doubleheader. The James Clemens Jets take on Austin High School in the nightcap, following the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Admission is $6; parking is $3.

“This schedule of baseball and festivities comprises a very special day for everyone who has been involved with the team and venue since the ground-breaking nearly two years ago,” Nelson said. “Toyota Field is a testament to the hard work and support of so many people who shared a vision and a dream.”

The doubleheader wraps up a series of games slated for Toyota Field before the Trash Pandas open their inaugural season April 15.

There will be four college games and a high school game in March, leading up to the ribbon-cutting festivities.

Alabama-Huntsville hosts Montevallo in a three-game Gulf South Conference series March 20-21. The March 20 game starts at 1 p.m.; a doubleheader on March 21 starts at 11 a.m.

The next day, March 22, Alabama A&M will take on arch-rival Alabama State in a Southwestern Athletic Conference game at 1 p.m.

All seats to the UAH and Alabama A&M games are general admission and cost $5; parking is $3.

On March 28, Grissom High School will play Decatur High School with first pitch slated for noon. Admission is $6; parking is $3.

The Trash Pandas’ home opener for Southern League play is Wednesday, April 15 at 6:35 p.m. against the Mississippi Braves at Toyota Field. Season tickets, mini-plans and group outings are on sale now.

Visit www.trashpandasbaseball.com or call 256-325-1403 to order.

Rocket City Trash Pandas are Hiring

MADISON – If you’ve wanted to work for a professional sports team, here is your chance.

The Rocket City Trash Pandas, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, are holding a job fair Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bob Jones High School cafeteria. The school is at 650 Hughes Road in Madison.

“We are building a team of passionate, energetic, and driven individuals to deliver the best experience in Minor League Baseball,” the team said in a statement.

The Trash Pandas will be hiring for more than 100 positions in more than 30 game-day roles. Positions include ticket takers, ushers, servers, bartenders, vendors/hawkers, concessionaires, warehouse, cooks, housekeeping, production room, camera operator, concessions stocker, parking lot attendants, promo team member, game-day runner and more.

Candidates are urged to bring a completed application to the job fair. Applications can be found at www.trashpandasbaseball.com.

Anyone looking for an internship can also interview at the job fair and are encouraged to bring resumes.

Representatives of the Trash Pandas will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.

The Trash Pandas’ home Opening Day is April 15 against the Mississippi Braves at Toyota Field. Season tickets, mini plans and group outings are on sale now. Visit www.trashpandasbaseball.com or call 256-325-1403.

Trash Pandas Manager Brings Big-game, Championship Experience to First-year Club

MADISON — Jay Bell knows something about big moments in a baseball playing and coaching career spanning more than two decades, none more so than when he scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series as the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied to defeat the New York Yankees.

Jay Bell is the first manager of the Rocket City Trash Pandas (Photo/Rocket City Trash Pandas)

Over an 18-season Major League career, he won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and was twice an All-Star.

In three seasons as a manager in the Yankees minor league system, his teams made the playoffs each season including in 2019 when the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders won the International League Northern Division.

He’s seen the other side of the sport as well.

He was at shortstop for Pittsburgh when Francisco Cabrera rolled a grounder just past a diving Bell to score Sid Bream from second base to lift Atlanta past the Pirates in a Game 7 win that clinched the National League pennant in a moment that lives in Braves’ lore.

Now comes his newest challenge: leading the Rocket City Trash Pandas into their first season as a member of the Los Angeles Angels’ Double-A affiliate in the Southern League.

“It is a thrill to be part of this inaugural season,’’ Bell said during an introductory press conference at Toyota Field, which is expected to open for the team’s first homestand beginning April 15 against the Mississipi Braves.

“To grow up in Pensacola, to have the opportunity to come to the Southern League and be a part of a brand new franchise, a state-of-the-art field, to be associated with Rocket City — Madison and the Greater Huntsville area — is tremendous.’’

Growing up in the Florida Panhandle, Bell said being back in the South and Alabama “feels like home.’’

He drove around the area in a rental car prior to the press conference and came away “really impressed with what is going on in this city. To be part of baseball coming back to this area is something special.’’

Bell is reuniting with Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson. Nelson was working in the front office of the Arizona Diamondbacks when the club launched in 1998. Bell was a member of the team’s original roster.

“When I was a young baseball executive I worked for a guy named Al Rosen,’’ Nelson said. “He told me a little trick, which was to go down to the clubhouse and see who were the first players that showed up. He said ‘Ralph, those will be your managers.’

“In San Francisco, those guys were Dusty Baker, Doug Melvyn and Matt Williams. I went to Arizona and the first guys in every night were Craig Counsell, Matt Williams and Jay Bell. I knew Jay Bell would be a manager. I just didn’t know how fortunate we’d be to have him as ours.’’

Josh Caray, the Trash Pandas radio voice, echoed a theme the club has repeated since arriving.

“We are Double-A in name but a major league operation,’’ he said. “One of the things the Los Angeles Angels have done for us is they have provided us with a big-league manager.’’

Bell’s coaching staff will include Tim Norton (pitching), Matt Spring (hitting), Derek Florko (defense), Matt Morrell (trainer), and Jon Hill (strength and conditioning).

Bell and wife Laura have a daughter, two sons and two grandchildren. Sons Brantley and Brock play professionally for the Reds and Red Sox, respectively.

The Trash Pandas open the season April 9 with a five-game series at the Birmingham Barons and make their Toyota Field debut April 15 against the Mississippi Braves.

Rocket City Trash Pandas Pass $2M Mark in Merchandise Sales

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas today announced the team surpassed the $2 million mark in merchandise sales Friday – in just more than 13 months of operating.

The team began selling official licensed merchandise in October 2018 following their logo reveal event at Dublin Park in Madison. Since then, the Trash Pandas have sold merchandise in the Trash Pandas Emporium at Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville.

The team’s original store proved too small to handle the crowds, so the Trash Pandas moved into double the space in their current location, at the foot of the bridge June 29.

Through Dec. 22, the organization sold $2,031,660.25 in licensed Trash Pandas
merchandise, including $492,157.14 in online sales and $1,5439,503.11 at the Bridge Street location.

“This surpasses even our wildest expectations,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph
Nelson. “We are grateful to our fans throughout North Alabama and the entire Tennessee Valley,
as well as those around the world, for support that is simply unprecedented in Minor League Baseball. As I’ve said repeatedly, I do not believe any fan base has ever embraced a new team
like ours has.

“We are truly humbled by this … and it is only the beginning.”

The Emporium at Bridge Street is the only location in North Alabama to purchase official Trash
Pandas merchandise, season tickets and mini-plans. Merchandise is also available in the online
store: https://trashpandas.milbstore.com/.

The Trash Pandas make their Toyota Field debut April 15, 2020 against the Mississippi Braves.

Rocket City Trash Pandas Offer 23-game Ticket Plans

MADISON — By popular demand, the Rocket City Trash Pandas have announced the sale of partial-season ticket mini-plans for 2020.

“As our fanbase knows, the Trash Pandas have been overwhelmed by sales of full season tickets, far beyond what we had anticipated; with more than 1,600 sold, there are fewer than 200 remaining,” said team President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “We are also well aware many of our fans can’t commit to attend 70 home games.

“Our fans constantly ask about partial-season ticket plans. We’ve heard them, and in response to those requests, we are offering three varied 23-game mini-plans.”

Each mini-plan consists of 23 home games, but none include Opening Day. Only full-season ticket holders are guaranteed a seat for Opening Day.

The mini-plans are for box seats only, and include these benefits:

  • Just a single-year commitment
  • 10 percent discount at the Trash Pandas Junkyard and Emporium team stores
  • 20 percent off parking

“These mini-plans make the perfect Christmas gift for all the baseball fans in your family,” Nelson said.

The three mini-plans are named Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and each has its own specialty. Specific dates for each plan are available on the team’s website www.TrashPandasBaseball.com.

The Mercury Plan is the All-American plan, including Memorial Day and the big 3rd of July game and spectacular fireworks show.

The Gemini Plan is perfect for families with 5 Sunday games and 4 Saturday games, as well as the final home game of the season.

The Apollo Plan is a weekend special with the most weekend games of the three plans. It also includes the second home game of the season.

Each mini-plan is priced at $345 per seat. All three plans are available for sale at the Trash Pandas Emporium at Bridge Street Town Centre, also by calling 256-325-1403, fans can email seasontickets@trashpandasbaseball.com or visit www.TrashPandasBaseball.com.