With boosting attendance the top priority, Muskrats expect to have left field deck ready for opening day
Published DateLACONIA — In warmer climes the collegiate baseball season opened last week and in June many of its finest players will again be bringing their talents to Robbie Mills Field, home to the Laconia Muskrats, playing their fourth season in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL).
General Manager Noah Crane said yesterday that his highest priority will be to boost attendance. "Attendance has been increasing," he said, "but we're still not covering our costs. It's frustrating," he continued, "because everything I hear about what we're doing, the quality of the baseball and the operation of the facility, is positive, but we're still being outdrawn by our competitors with less exciting teams and less attractive facilities."
Crane said that once weather permits, work will begin to complete the left-field deck atop the replica of Fenway Park's famous "green monster." The deck will house food and beverage concession, including the sale of beer, which the Parks and Recreation approved last year. Crane said he intends to contract with a local restaurant or caterer to offer a menu with "more than the usual ballpark fare," which together with beer sales will draw a different demographic to the games.
At the same time, Crane said that he is working with Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, to add seating behind home plate to provide an angle of vision preferred by many baseball fans.
This year the Muskrats will host the NECBL All-Star Game, complete with a home run derby, on Sunday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. In this its 20th season, the league has added three franchises — the Ocean State Waves from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the Saratoga Brigade from Saratoga Springs, New York and the Plymouth Pilgrims from Plymouth, Massachusetts. "All the very best players in the league will be coming to Laconia," Crane said. "Attendance that day should swell."
Above all, Crane called the 2013 edition of the Muskrats "top to bottom the strongest roster we've fielded." The 28 players are drawn from 20 different states and 19 different colleges and universities. to field the most talented team in the short history of the franchise. In particular, Crane said he was especially pleased by the strength and depth of the pitching staff. "Last year too often our starters could not get through the second or third inning and as good as our hitters were, it was tough to get 10 or 11 runs," he said. "We'll have a lot of solid hitter, but I expect our pitching to be the talk of the league."
Crane said that again this he is looking for families to host players. In return for providing a spare room, laundry facilities and occasional meals host families receive free admission not only to all home games at Robbie Mills Field but also to every venue in the NECBL as well as discounts on merchandise. Most of all Crane said that host families have the opportunity to help a young ballplayers take a step closer to their goal of playing professional baseball. For more information, go to the team's website www.laconiamuskrats.com.