Baseball America named the Lehigh Valley IronPigs their 2012 Bob Freitas Award Winner today for excellence in long-term excellence in the operation of a minor league franchise, with a focus on the areas of market commitment, operational practices, community involvement and business success. There is one winner selected from each Minor League level by Baseball America and the Pigs won the award in just their first year of eligibility.
More from the official press release:
(Allentown, Pa.) – The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have won the prestigious Bob Freitas award, recognizing long-term excellence in the operation of minor league franchises, with a focus on the areas of market commitment, operational practices, community involvement and business success, Baseball America announced earlier today.
The IronPigs captured the Freitas Award in their first year of eligibility as clubs must be in operation for at least five seasons to be considered. The coveted award is given annually to one club among each level of affiliated Minor League Baseball.
“I am humbled to accept this award on behalf of our entire community, our unrivaled fan base as well as our dedicated ownership group, front office staff and our game day employees,” exclaimed Kurt Landes. “The fact that we were honored in our first year of eligibility makes the achievement that much more rewarding and significant. In just five short years, the IronPigs have become an irreplaceable part of the Lehigh Valley and we welcome the opportunity to become even further engrained in the community in the future.”
Lee Folger, President and Publisher of Baseball America, will present the award to Landes on behalf of the IronPigs’ organization during the annual Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. next week.
A record-setting 688,821 fans visited Coca-Cola Park during the 2012 season – making it the most frequented venue in Minor League Baseball for a third consecutive season. In fact, the IronPigs are the only Minor League franchise to eclipse 600,000 in attendance for each of the last five campaigns. The 9,153 per-game average for the club’s official 72 home games was also tops among all Minor League franchises and marked the fourth straight season the IronPigs averaged over 9,000 fans per game.
The attendance success has been equaled within Coca-Cola Park through efforts to develop and maintain the strongest promotional schedule and ballpark experience in Minor League Baseball by:
- Assuring fans of a promotion, giveaway, fireworks show or entertainment act at every home game.
- Continually developing new in-game entertainment experiences and varying in-between inning skits to make sure they differ with each and every game.
- Complimenting theme nights with a fully integrated and expansive ballpark experience inclusive of scoreboard graphic implementation, menu choices, staff participation, team jerseys, mascot apparel and more.
Coca-Cola Park itself was named Ballpark Digest’s “Ballpark of the Year” during the IronPigs’ debut season in 2008 and has since drawn rave reviews for its unique intimacy, family-friendly atmosphere and architectural design. Coca-Cola Park has also been bestowed with the Project of the Year award as presented by The March of Dimes Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Awards Committee
In addition to the success at the turnstiles, the IronPigs have become entrenched in the community through their innovative IronPigs Charities non-profit organization that has distributed more than $475,000 in monetary contributions since debuting in 2007. IronPigs Charities strives to provide educational and recreational opportunities for children in the Greater Lehigh Valley area and typically awards tens of thousands of dollars to other local non-profit organizations annually through their grants-based program.
In addition to monetary commitments to local non-profits, the IronPigs staff makes hundreds of community appearances annually including most recently with the staffs of the Philadelphia Phillies, Lakewood BlueClaws, Reading Fightin Phils and Trenton Thunder in an effort to assist in the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts on the Jersey Shore.
Currently, the IronPigs are teaming up with the Coco Foundation and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley in support of their 2012 Holiday Toy Drive. The IronPigs will be collecting new toys in the Majestic Clubhouse Store through December 12th.
The award, named for long time Minor League ambassador Bob Freitas, has been awarded annually since 1989.