Friday, March 29, 2019

Play Ball for Less!

A Crushers 2018 promotion invited fans to bring their dogs to the game.
Tuesday, CLE on the Cheap got you ready for the Cleveland Indians’ 2019 season opener. Today, the focus is on the minor leagues and where you can see the action in person at prices considerably cheaper than Major League Baseball tickets.

Greater Cleveland has three minor-league teams. The Lake County Captains, a Class A affiliate of the Indians, play at Classic Park in Eastlake. The Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks play at Canal Park in downtown Akron. And the Lake Erie Crushers, an independent professional team, play at Sprenger Stadium in Avon.

The Captains and Rubber Ducks both open Thursday at home. The Crushers, who play a shorter season, open on the road May 9 and at home May 10.

Minor-league baseball is fun, even for people who aren’t baseball fans. It’s not that the games don’t count or that the players don’t take them seriously. You might see a star of the future or an injured major leaguer playing on a rehab assignment. But the experience is as much entertainment event as sporting event. Besides promotions similar to those MLB teams hold, the minor-league teams have quirky activities between innings, many involving fan participation. Those activities are not advertised in advance, but they’re funny and popular with participants and spectators.

Among the Captains’ 2019 promotions are Buck Night, when hot dogs, domestic drafts and fountain drinks are $1, Charitable Donation Tuesdays, and Brats & Brews Wednesdays. The Rubber Ducks will offer T-shirt Tuesday, fireworks nights and a promotion called LOOK! My Hot Dog is Green. (Don’t worry. The green refers to a cash giveaway). The Crushers are planning promotions including Pack the Park Pink, to benefit Susan G. Komen, and signing former Indians outfielder Coco Crisp for one game. Crisp will play for the Crushers on Aug. 3 and be available for postgame photos and autographs. The Crushers are having a Coco Crisp Bobblehead Night on June 22 to promote the Aug. 3 game.

Even without the promotions, an outing at a minor-league ballgame is a good deal. Single Crushers tickets range from $6 to $18 and advance tickets are $2 less than game-day tickets. Single Rubber Ducks tickets go from $5 to $25. Single Captains tickets top out at $15, but there are discounts for seniors and kids. Each team also has group ticket plans for frequent visitors.

Concession prices are not posted, but my experience has shown that food and beverages at minor-league parks cost a fraction of the prices at MLB ballparks. The same goes for parking.

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