While it may not feel like spring outside, the start of baseball season is just over two weeks away. The Buffalo Bisons open the 2013 season April 4 at Coca Cola Field and fans coming down to the ballpark this year will notice some changes.
The Bisons held their annual "What's New" gathering Wednesday to show off some of the changes fans can expect to see this spring and summer.
The biggest change that took place in the offseason was the Herd's new affiliation partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays. The team has new players, a new logo and uniforms that harken back to the red, white, and blue colors of the late 80's and early 90's, and new concession items to go along with the Canadian tie, like Poutine french fries.
Bisons Vice President and General Manager Mike Buczkowski says there will be special events in honor of the team's new partnership with Toronto. Buczkowski says he expects to see more Canadians at the ballpark than ever before.
"We're going to sing the Canadian national anthem, along with the U.S. national anthem at every game. The Poutine is a great chance to make our Canadian fans feel a little bit at home. But in talking to them, they want to come and experience Charlie the Butcher, Costanzo rolls [and] the Buffalo chicken wings. I think they're looking as much forward to experiencing the great, wonderful local food options that we offer here at the ballpark," Buczkowski said.
Buczkowski says there will be promotional events inspired by the team's new partnership including a Blue Jays Night and a bobblehead giveaway in honor of Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey, a former Bisons player.
Each year, the team introduces new concession items, and this year is no different with about a dozen new offerings including fish and chips, beer-steamed mussels, calamari sticks, and steak sandwiches, many featuring local flavors. New merchandise will also be available at the team shop.
A new Hall of Fame Heritage Room in the main concourse will highlight the history of 128 years of professional baseball in Buffalo.
"It's main focus will be to celebrate the 85 people that are in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame, but it's also going to have some unique exhibits. We're going to bring in memorabilia from whether it's the first year at this ballpark or the Offerman Stadium days or the War Memorial Stadium days. We'll celebrate some of the great players, the dozen or so former Bisons that are in Cooperstown. It's going to give us another attraction as fans come, to educate them on the history and to help celebrate all the great things that have happened in Buffalo baseball history," Buczkowski said.
Buczkowski says sales of tickets and merchandise have been strong since announcing the Toronto partnership.