The start of spring means baseball is right around the corner. The Buffalo Bisons will start their 31st season at Coca-Cola Field in less than three weeks. Thursday they hosted their annual preseason "What’s New at the Ballpark" preview.
One of the biggest questions heading in to the year is what would happen to the now-retired mascot Celery? Buffalo Bisons General Manager Mike Buczkowski said, while Celery will no longer participate in the WCC Race, the mascot will still be a part of the game day experience.
“Celery will be around the ballpark. We’ve created ‘Won Celery Place’ by section 104,” said Buczkowski. “It’s going to be a place where fans can get their picture taken with Celery. Meet Celery.”
This new area will also be the new entertainment center for all Bisons events. A new racing food mascot to replace Celery will be announced on Opening Day.
In an attempt to speed up the game, a runner will now be placed on second base at the start of all extra-innings. Buczkowski said he thinks fans will be confused by the new rule.
“I can’t hide my personal feeling. I do not like it at all,” said Buczkowski. “We’re against it. We voted it against it. To battle for nine innings at Triple-A. One step below the big leagues. Then you start the next inning and somebody gets put on second base. They can, not easily, but the odds are they can score without the team even earning a hit.”
Buczkowski said they are going to have to explain during the game why a runner is appearing on second base. The new rule will not apply for playoff games.
Several new foods have been added to concessions. The Original Pizza Log will be debuting a new apple-filled dessert log. Other new items include hand-held mac & cheese cones, bacon-wrapped pork skewers, and black bean burgers for vegetarian fans.
Buczkowski said he knows they need to appeal the game experience to a younger audience.
“We put in a lot of plans to make things exciting for young people to be here,” said Buczkowski. “Whether its discounts on food and beverage. Whether its innovative video board features. Our social media plan is all designed to bring people here to start out the night or if you’re a great baseball fan be here for the whole game.”
Saturday games this year will be known as “Labatt-urdays,” starting on June 16. Fans 21 years and older will have a chance to win Labatt beer for a year if a Bisons player hits a home run off a new giant inflatable Labatt can in the right field berm area.
The Bisons home opener is April 12 against the Indianapolis Indians. The club starts their season with a six-game road trip.