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Built for Business and Baseball: New Avid Hotel at Town Madison Open

MADISON — It is sure to be a home run for business travelers and baseball fans – the new Avid Hotel at Town Madison has the perfect setup for both, at the Madison/Wall-Triana Highway exit of I-565. It is a just a throw across the infield from Huntsville International Airport, Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park.

A fitness center is among the amenities provided at the Avid.

For the business traveler, there are 55-inch HDTVs with free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, free breakfast with fresh-ground coffee, high-quality mattresses and black-out roller shades to promote a sound sleep. 

The Avid includes a 24-hour “market.”

For the baseball fan, it is just a throw from the outfield of Toyota Field, home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. There are outdoor patios and a 24-hour market for after-the-game munchies and a mini-refrigerator in every room.

According to Pritesh Patel, one of the owners of Jalasai Hospitality Co., the 87-room Avid by Intercontinental Hotels Group is a boutique-style hotel that promises a spotless hotel environment that is always ready for its next guests.

Double beds await the traveler for a restful sleep.

“This Avid hotel is the perfect fit for this location and community,” said Patel. “Whether you are a business traveler or visiting for a game at Toyota Field, in town for business or pleasure, you will find that we focus on getting the essentials right. The Avid hotel will provide the comfort, modern design and high standard of quality service to exceed your expectations.” 

The Town Madison hotel is the 21st Avid hotel and is a short hop from more than 1 million square feet of new retail, restaurant, and entertainment venues including Duluth Trading Co., J Alexander’s Restaurant, Outback Steakhouse, and 700,000 square feet of office space. 

Trash Pandas Offered 10-year Affiliation Contract with Angels

MADISON  – The Rocket City Trash Pandas have received a Professional Development License offer as the Double-A Minor League Baseball affiliate for the Los Angeles Angels in Major League Baseball’s new player development structure.

“When we started talks to purchase the Mobile BayBears and move them to Rocket City, one of the most attractive aspects of the deal was their affiliation with the Angels, an organization I have admired as long as I’ve been in baseball,” said Trash Pandas President & CEO Ralph Nelson. “We were excited to extend that relationship for four years following the 2018 season and equally thrilled to know it will now last even longer.”

The Professional Development License from the Angels is offered as a 10-year contract, which will run through 2030. This will position the Trash Pandas as one of the 120 affiliated teams in the restructured Minor League Baseball organization. Each Major League Baseball team will now have four affiliates – Triple-A, Double-A, High A, and Low A – and MiLB operations will be handled out of the MLB headquarters in New York.

The Trash Pandas are set to play their inaugural season at the new, state-of-the-art Toyota Field in 2021.

 “The Angels have one of the elite player development systems in our game and the Trash Pandas are proud to be members of the family,” said Nelson.

Holiday Magic Pass Offers Discounts to Major Huntsville Holiday Activities

Visitors set their sights on Huntsville as a top destination for family travel, outdoor recreation, space history and – around this time of year – a premier vacation spot for holiday revelry.

To ease the burden for families to enjoy the wide variety of events without breaking the bank, the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), in partnership with area attractions, has released a holiday events coupon sheet providing discounts to six major holiday offerings in the Rocket City.

The free Huntsville Holiday Magic Pass is available online at huntsville.org and at the Huntsville/Madison County Visitor Center.  The Visitor Center is at 500 Church Street in downtown Huntsville and is open seven days a week. The Huntsville Holiday Magic Coupon Sheet is available to visitors and residents of Madison County.

“Although COVID-19 has affected travel and the way people are able to gather this year, Christmas is not cancelled in the Rocket City,” said Judy Ryals, president/CEO of the CVB. “Our partners are working hard to ensure guest experiences remain as safe as possible, while still keeping the magic of the season alive.

“We’re especially encouraging our locals – many of whom will be staying in town for the holidays – to get out and support these events happening right in their own backyard.”

The Huntsville Holiday Magic Pass features the following discounts:

  • $2 off admission to the Huntsville Museum of Art’s Skating in the Park
  • $2 off admission to Skate with Santa or a Winter Wonderland Skate at the Benton H. Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex
  • 25 percent off general admission to see Burritt on the Mountain decked out for the holidays
  • $3 off any show at the Intuitive Planetarium or general admission to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • 10 percent off one store item at Harrison Brothers Hardware (excluding sale and consignment), plus free tour
  • 10 percent off the drive-through light show at the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular at Toyota Field

 To redeem the coupons, guests can either present the coupon or show the digital version on their mobile device, available online at huntsville.org/hsvmagic. Additional information on Huntsville holiday events including dates, operating hours, etc., can also be found on the Holiday Magic  page.

Trash Pandas to Light Up the Area with Drive-Through Christmas Spectacular

MADISON — The home of the Rocket City’s “boys of summer” has been transformed into a “Winter Wonderland.”

Hundreds of thousands of lights will be on display when the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular comes to Toyota Field this Friday through Jan. 3.

Guests can drive through the magical “Santa’s Mountain” themed light show around Toyota Field for just $25 per car. The festivities will begin at 5 p.m. nightly. Visitors will be able to simply tune into their vehicle’s radio and experience a spectacular synchronization of music and lights. Tickets can be purchased online at reserve.imclutch.com/trashpandas, or on the day of the event – credit cards and mobile pay are encouraged.

“We want to turn Toyota Field into the best holiday destination in North Alabama for years to come,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “Our plan is to expand and improve our Winter Wonderland year after year.”

Guests can also park their car after driving through the lights and enter the Winter Wonderland within the stadium at no additional cost. There will be holiday activities for all ages, including hot chocolate stations, cookie decorating, s’mores making, character visits, shopping, and more. The Winter Wonderland will be open through Dec. 24 during the Christmas Spectacular and 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

CDC and Madison County health guidelines will be followed at the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular.

It’s the Beginning of the End for Zierdt Road Construction

A recent social media post from a resident of the Edgewater community off Zierdt Road at Lady Anne Lake said, “Things That Have No End: The Universe, numbers, Pi, and Zierdt Road construction.”

Without a doubt, for those living in the midst of the “mess,” it must seem like a black hole.

But the good news is that with the lane shift from the southbound lanes to the northbound lanes on Zierdt in early September, motorists are now traversing the new Zierdt Road – marking Phase IV and the beginning of the end of the $25 million road project.

There has been a lot of frustration about the project because in 2010, it began as a $7 million widening project at the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Zierdt Road.

Construction continues at the Zierdt Road-Edgewater Drive intersection. (Marty Sellers Photo)

Because there wasn’t a lot of funding at the time and Town Madison and Toyota Field were not on anyone’s radar, the original plan consisted of a four-phased approach to widening the 3.5-mile stretch from Madison Boulevard to Martin Road outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 7 from two lanes to four.

Each of the four phases were estimated to take two to four years to complete.

Then, in April 2017, public input sessions resulted in the addition of a pedestrian and bike path. The 12-foot-wide multiuse path was added on the west side, changing the scope of work significantly and increasing the budget to $25 million.

As messy as it may seem, this current phase of Zierdt Road includes new drainage, curb, subgrade, paving and the multiuse path for the remainder of the project duration.

The final phase (IV) of improvements will also consist of two southbound lanes, seven lanes at the intersection of Martin and Zierdt roads, and six lanes at the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Zierdt Road.

While the project has had its share of hiccups due to fluctuations in funding, according to the City of Huntsville, they have been able to make up some time during the pandemic due to the significantly decreased traffic flow.

For residents. the hindrance has been complete but, for the construction crews, residential traffic has been a hindrance.

Although it is only 3 1/2 miles long, Zierdt could not be shut down entirely because of the significant residential population along that stretch of road.

As Kelly Schrimsher, Communications Director at the City of Huntsville, points out, it is significantly more difficult to reconstruct a road when it is in use.

“When you build a new road, you keep it closed until it is finished and passable,” she said. “Or if you look at the road construction off Research Park Boulevard, that work seems to move along without much traffic disruption because they are widening it from the center median and traffic is unaffected.

“Zierdt was always a heavily traveled two-lane road with access to Redstone Arsenal Gate 7, access to the airport, a lot of residential communities, and now Town Madison with the new Toyota Field  – which was not a consideration when the project was initiated.”

All residents of the neighborhoods on Mountainbrook, Edgewater and Nature’s Way can see, however, is the demolition and reconstruction of the original southbound lanes that were the main access into those apartment complexes and communities.

But regardless of how it looks, city engineers promise the end is coming soon and it will be great.

Trash Pandas to Host Beer & Wine Fest

MADISON – There aren’t any cheers from the fans, yet, but visitors may hear “cheers!” next month at Toyota Field.

The Rocket City Trash Pandas will host a Beer & Wine Fest on Oct. 17 featuring some 40 local and national selections. The Trash Pandas will announce the lineup of breweries and wineries in the next few weeks.

This event is only for guests 21 and up – no children are allowed. Admission is $35 per person with VIP tickets for one-hour early access are available for $45. Designated driver tickets cost $5. VIP tastings begin at 1 p.m.; other guests can enter at 2 p.m. The festival runs until 5 p.m.

In addition to tastings, guests will be able to vote on their favorite beverages, and the staff will present “Best Beer” and “Best Wine” awards at the end of the day.

Toyota Field concession stands will be open throughout the event with traditional ballpark fare and additional full-sized beer and wine for purchase. Parking is free, and valid IDs will be checked upon entry.

CDC guidelines and Madison County mandates will be followed at the stadium. Guests’ temperatures will be taken at the gate and masks are required for entry. Vendors will adhere to proper sanitizing and social-distancing practices.

Tickets can be purchased online at TrashPandasBaseball.com/Events, at the Toyota Field Ticket Office, or by calling 256-325-1403, option 1.

Trash Pandas Hosting Movies, Block Parties, Camps in Lieu of Baseball This Summer

MADISON — Just a couple months ago, Josh Caray planned on calling play-by-play baseball in the first season of the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas.

Instead, he’s helping the club Band-Aid what so far has been a lost baseball season across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You look forward to a baseball season, covering games and being around players and managers and riding the bus and seeing different cities seeing different ballparks and, you know, getting better at your craft and things like that,’’ Caray said. “And then all of a sudden, one month out (from the season opening), and have that all taken away from you over something you can’t control is frustrating.

“But then you look at what’s going on across the country and across the world and I realize it’s really not that bad. And I also appreciate the fact that, in comparison, we are fortunately in a much better position than a lot of other Minor League Baseball teams.’’

In lieu of baseball, the Trash Pandas hosted their first “Block Party’’ at the sparkling new Toyota Field last weekend. There have been kids’ day camps the past two weeks and the first On-Field Movie Night, presented by Paragon Research Corp., takes place tonight at 7:15; gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for kids. The movie is “Angels in the Outfield” – the Trash Pandas are the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angelse Angels. Folks can sit on the field (blankets only, no chairs) or in the stands. Concession stands and the Junkyard team store will be open.

Upcoming events include a Trash Pandas Instructional Baseball Camp June 15 and 16 and another Block Party on June 19, featuring live entertainment and fireworks.

On July 3, the Fourth of July weekend kicks off with an Independence Eve Block Party. Block Party tickets are on sale now at TrashPandasBaseball.com/Events and the Toyota Field Ticket Office.

A July 4 features a patriotic extravaganza will feature the “biggest fireworks display in the Metro!’’ Tickets go on sale today at 9 a.m.

For each event, Pepsi Gates will open at 5 p.m. and Trash Panda Nation full-season ticket holders will gain early entry at 4:30 p.m.

“There’s nothing like fireworks blasting off in the summer surrounded by friends and family,” said team President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “We can’t wait to deliver our slice of Americana to this great region with our summer lineup that will knock it out of the park.”

Admission to each event is $10. Kids two and under enter for free, and there is no charge for parking.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, the facility will operate at half-capacity for all events.  Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance

The events are added to a slate of activities the organization has produced since the latest amendments to the state’s Safer at Home Order.

“We’re adjusting and doing the very best we can,” Nelson said. “I mean, we’ve got very, very talented people in our organization who oversee entertainment and promotions and things like that, so we’ve been able to make this into a positive situation and it’s been a very negative situation with regard to baseball.’’

 

Madison Mayor Finley: Events to Fill Baseball Void at Toyota Field – When Allowed

It might not be Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball, but Toyota Field might soon be hosting events.

That’s according to Madison Mayor Paul Finley, who at Wednesday’s COVID-19 press briefing said, as soon as it’s allowed, plans are to open the new stadium to an array of events.

The Trash Pandas were scheduled to open their first season in Double-A on April 15 before the novel coronavirus intervened. There has been no decision regarding the start or cancelation of the Minor or Major League Baseball seasons.

“Regardless of whether baseball happens, or doesn’t happen, we’re getting ready to start doing a lot of really positive things,’’ Finley said. “A lot of people will be able to come to that venue and use it whether its camps for kids for baseball, whether it’s a wine and cheese festival, whether it’s movies in the park — we’re going to start having events there and doing it in a way that makes good sense when it comes to distancing and sanitation and so forth.’’

Finley also pointed out this is National EMS Week and said for those on the frontlines “we’re very appreciative of what they do.’’

On another note, he said masks would be available for anyone without one who attends graduation ceremonies for James Clemens and Bob Jones at Madison City Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Huntsville plans to hold graduations June 25-26 at the Von Braun Center’s Propst Arena. Madison County schools have set graduations for July 15-16.

Masks will be required at all ceremonies and distancing will be in practice.

As of late Wednesday, there were 13,052 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 285 in Madison County. There were 522 deaths in Alabama related to the disease and four in the county.

Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said there were less than 10 patients in local hospitals being treated for the virus.

“We are remaining vigilant,’’ she said. “We’re watching the numbers as the community reopens.’’

Hudson continued to stress social distancing, hand washing, and cleaning heavily used surfaces.

She also said that while stay-at-home orders were in place most people were around 1 to 5 people in a household. Now that people are returning to work, that core group is more like 20 people. That 20, she pointed out, would average around three people in the household so now each worker is exposed to a possible 60 contacts.

“The more we open it the more germs can come our way,’’ she said, “which is why we focus on six feet apart.’’

Hudson also emphasized that all health care facilities are open and urged anyone who is not well to visit the emergency room.

“Don’t stay home if you’re sick,’’ she said. “Don’t delay essential care.’’

 

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.