March Madness: Busy business, promos and a Spring Training celebration!

March has finally arrived! It’s a great month for so many reasons. Spring Training is in full swing, the weather turns warmer, the days get longer and the first day of Spring will soon be upon us. Which means there’s only a few months until the beginning of our 10th anniversary season.
In the office this time of year, there’s lots of business to be taken care of before Opening Day on June 17th. From acquiring corporate partners to finding groups to come out to the ballpark. From finalizing the 2011 promotional schedule to creating the 2011 pocket schedules. Not to mention the process of hiring full-time interns and over 200 part-time employees. 
The 2011 promotional schedule is coming along very nicely and there are going to be some very awesome giveaway items this season that everyone will surely enjoy, including two bobbleheads for sure. We’ll be releasing the promo schedule very soon. The production process on the 2011 Pocket Schedules is going very well and ahead of schedule this year and we should have them in house by the middle of March, hopefully by the 15th.
Here’s a photo of my desk while working on the pocket schedule:
pocket schedule work photo.jpg_____________________________________________________________________________
While the marketing materials such as the calendars, schedules, programs, etc. are being created, our sales team is working in overdrive looking for companies who might be interested in advertising at the stadium or having a company outing in one of our popular picnic areas or suites. We work with all the companies to find the best means of promoting their product and increasing their business. A company might not like our outfield fence signs, but would like to interact more with our fan base by sponsoring a night or having a table on the concourse. It differs depending on the goal of each company.
Here is one of our full time sales assistants, Mike Johnson, on the phone with a prospective group:

Mike Johnson on phone.JPG

Each Thursday our sales team picks out of a “goal bowl” with the objective of assigning each member of the sales team with a goal or task for the 2011 season. It could range from targeting a certain type of group, taking ownership of a promo date or finding a sponsor for one of our giveaway items. It keeps the team energized, focused and on track.
Chris Dawson picking from the “goal bowl”:
goal bowl dawson.JPG
Goal Bowl Picking.JPG
Believe it or not, Opening Day tickets are going extremely fast due to the success of our 2011 mini-plan packages. There have also been a number of groups that have booked their outing on Opening Day as well. At this point, mini-plans, group outings and obviously season tickets is the only way to guarantee yourself a seat on Opening Day. Individual tickets will be going on-sale in the near future. We’ll make that announcement along with our promo schedule release. 
Click here for information on our 2011 Mini-Plans. Packages start at $30 and include tickets to six of our best games and a guaranteed giveaway item. 
Spring Training Coverage.jpg
Every March for the past three years I have had the pleasure of attending Astros Spring Training, and this year will be the most special. Our 2010 ValleyCats championship team will reunite for the first time since they flew out of Albany the day after defeating Brooklyn. Since the ‘Cats won the championship, most of the players have been at home. Some of them work part time jobs and others even take classes to earn their college degrees, such as Brandt Walker. He attended classes at Stanford along with former ‘Cat and Astros starting catcher Jason Castro. Brandt recently had surgery on his knee and will rehab this entire season. We wish him the best of luck with a full and speedy recovery.

The Astros are currently holding a special mini-camp for certain minor leaguers and it began this past week. Former ‘Cats attending include Jake Buchanan, Bobby Doran, Carlos Quevedo, Andrew Robinson, Ben Heath, Chris Wallace, Tyler Burnett, Enrique Hernandez, Mike Kvasnicka, Marcus Nidiffer, Telvin Nash and Austin Wates.

The entire minor league staff reports on March 4th (pitchers) and March 5th (position players). 
On March 6th they will begin a spring game schedule where the Astros minor leaguers will play minor leaguers from other MLB teams. Games are played at home in the many backfields of Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee and also on the road at other Major League Spring Training facilities.

I’ll be in Kissimmee from March 18th through the 23rd, during which I will provide you with special coverage of everything going on at the backfields of the Astros Spring Training complex. I’ll catch up with all your former ValleyCats and introduce you to members of the new 2011 coaching staff. I’ll be providing Twitter updates, uploading photos and videos and blogging about each days activities right here on ‘Cats Corner. 

On the evening of March 22nd the Astros will hold a very special ring ceremony during a dinner reception at the Major League Spring Training complex. At that time, each member of the ValleyCats 2010 championship team will receive their rings. The entire minor league staff, major league staff and Astros front office will be attending the dinner, which will make for a very memorable night for everyone including myself. I will be covering the event and will post a recap of the night. Everything will be located in one spot on our VCN page. 

Have you got a request for us during Spring Training? Someone we should talk to or question we should ask? We’re taking suggestions through our Twitter page…Send a tweet to @ValleyCats and we’ll try to fulfill your request.

If you would like to follow everything else that’s going on at Astros Spring Training, social media guru Alyson Footer provides, in my opinion, the best coverage of any major league spring training. Click here for Alyson’s blog.

Last week our front office attended RPI Puckman’s 30th birthday celebration during the men’s hockey game in Troy. SouthPaw, Rowdy and the mayors were there to present Puckman with a huge birthday cake! Here are some photos from the night…
Puckman SouthPaw Anthem.JPG
Puckman Cake.jpg
RPI Hockey 1.jpg
SouthPaw Checking Puckman.jpg
SouthPaw was a mischievous cat on this night…
SouthPaw Pretzel.jpg
SouthPaw_Guy On Phone.jpg
SouthPaw YNN.jpg
What do you think of SouthPaw’s reporting skills?

108 days until Opening Day June 17th!

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