07/22/2014 7:51 AM
Craig Swisher (third from left) and two of his kids pose with T-Bones vice-president/general manager Chris Browne and club president Adam Ehlert after Swisher learned Monday night he was the team's 3 millionth fan. (Photo by T-Bones Media Relations Department.)
By SHANE JACKSON
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – With temperatures in the mid-90s, it may have been the hottest night of the year but that didn't stop Craig Swisher from taking his son and daughter to watch the Kansas City T-Bones at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on Monday night.
Little did Swisher know he would be welcomed with open arms by the T-Bones staff, as he was the 3 millionth fan to see a T-Bones game at CommunityAmerica Ballpark — a feat that took only 12 years to accomplish.
“I was stunned; I knew it was significant but I didn’t realize how significant it was at the time,” said Swisher, of Gladstone, Mo., who says he attends two to three games each year.
Swisher originally hadn't planned on attending Monday night's game until his son talked him into it.
“I got an email (Sunday) night that my son's scout troop was coming out tonight, and he really wanted to go even though it was going to be pretty hot,” Swisher said. “But I had no idea the three millionth fan was going to be tonight. It was a total coincidence.”
Even with a major-league franchise like the Kansas City Royals across the state line, the T-Bones continue to post astonishing attendance numbers. The club is on pace in 2014 to draw more than 260,000 fans for the fifth consecutive season.
“Congratulations to the T-Bones on this remarkable milestone,” said Mayor Mark Holland. “The short timeframe that it took to reach this attendance number is a testimony to the quality product and fan experience the T-Bones constantly deliver. It's a fun, family friendly event that everyone can enjoy!”
Since the T-Bones moved to Kansas City from Duluth, Minn., before the 2003 season, fans such as Swisher have come to watch the T-Bones largely because of the atmosphere at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
“We have been coming for years now, since this ballpark was built,” Swisher said. “We are Royals fans too, but this places is more kid-friendly, and they have more entertainment, more stuff to do, and it's a good value for the money.”
Going into Monday night, the T-Bones had an American Association best 173,401 fans in 2014, with the next closest being Winnipeg with 146,488. For Kansas City that averages to 5,419 fans each game, which is second-best in the league. (Winnipeg has averaged 5,425 in 2014.)
Swisher will be rewarded for achieving Kansas City's monumental milestone with a prize pack that includes four T-Bones season tickets for life; an autographed, game-used base from CommunityAmerica Ballpark; a baseball autographed by T-Bones coach and Royals Hall of Fame player Frank White; $300 toward a savings account from CommunityAmerica Credit Union; a $100 gift card from Cabela’s; a gift certificate from Danny’s Bar & Grill; a phone from Verizon; a night’s stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kansas City, Kan.; among other prizes.
But if you asked the appreciative Swisher which prize he favors, there isn't a doubt in his mind.
“Oh, definitely the season tickets, because it gives us a great chance to get out here with the kids and do something that everyone likes,” he said. “It's going to be a lot of fun.”