To many people, the Fourth of July means some combination of a day off, family, fireworks, cookouts, patriotism and good times. To a minor-league baseball franchise, toss in one more thing: fast-clicking turnstiles.
The Round Rock Express, like many clubs coast to coast, draw their biggest crowds around the summer holiday, and this year they expect to pick up the pace even more.
For the first time, the Express is rolling out a post-game fireworks tripleheader for Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the Omaha series. Fans are responding. Those three games are expected to pull a combined 32,000 fans to Dell Diamond.
“The Fourth of July, fireworks and baseball … it’s a slice of Americana,” Express general manager George King said. “We’re calling this our red, white and blue weekend. Thursday night should be a sellout. Friday and Saturday will be huge, too.”
Fewer than 1,000 seats remain for Thursday. Less than 2,000 are left for Saturday and close to 3,000 for Friday. That doesn’t include berm seating or standing-room-only.
Last year, the Express drew an overflow crowd of 12,138 for a July 3 fireworks promotion.
This year, despite a first-place team, ticket sales are down 11 percent from 2012, when Round Rock finished 69-75 yet led the Pacific Coast League in average home attendance at 8,339.
Some of that was the afterglow of 2011, the Express’ first year as the Texas Rangers’ top affiliate, when they had one of the best teams in the league and also topped the PCL in attendance at 8,587.
Round Rock is averaging 7,637 tickets sold this year, ranking No. 2 in the PCL and No. 6 in Triple-A ball.
King attributes much of this year’s dropoff to the vagaries of the season schedule and said he expects his team to make it up as the summer wears on.
“We only had one full weekend at home in June,” he said, “and we were on the road Memorial Day weekend and the weekend before that in May.
“June and July will always be our best months because school’s out and families are looking for things to do. We’ll gain back ground because we’re home three of the next four weekends.”
Winning is often said to be the best promotion — the Express has the best home record in the league at 29-15 — yet King said it’s not quite that way with his franchise.
“We’re built around offering great value,” he said. “For the price of a normal ticket ($8 to $18), you get a pretty good show out here. But it does help us to be tied to the Rangers, who have such a good farm system.”
The Express are experimenting with first-time promotions for this holiday series. On Friday they are offering an outfield berm picnic package for $25 that covers an all-you-can-eat-and-drink (non-alcoholic) deal. On Sunday they have a $19 Intel Club ticket that includes beer and wine tasting.
Home attendance leaders in Triple-A baseball this season (Pacific Coast League and International League):
Team; Lg; Avg.
Lehigh Valley; IL; 8,753
Columbus; IL; 8,514
Sacramento; PCL; 7,964
Indianapolis; IL; 7,953
Louisville; IL; 7,679
Round Rock; PCL; 7,637
Albuquerque; PCL; 7,365
Toledo; IL; 7,074
Buffalo; IL; 6,964
Pawtucket; IL; 6,906
Round Rock Express average home attendance each day of the week: