A Decade of Hog Heaven
“If you build it, they will come” is a paraphrase of one of the most famous baseball movie lines of all-time. This fairy tale also proved true for Allentown in 2008, when the Lehigh Valley received its Field of Dreams in the form of Coca-Cola Park – home of the IronPigs.
After going 47 years without affiliated Minor League Baseball, the Valley became home to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate for the 2008 season. Since that time, there’s not a minor league team in the nation that has drawn more fans.
Created with the motto of providing affordable family entertainment, the IronPigs have seen more than six million fans pass through the turnstiles at Bacon, USA, since inception. Some arrive excited to catch a glimpse of baseball’s top prospects and the future of their beloved Phillies. Many more come out looking for a fun way to spend an evening with family and friends.
Coca-Cola Park has also been a tremendous asset to the business community. Over 500 local businesses have found success strategically aligning with the IronPigs, whether to market their brand and products, to entertain prospects and clients or to reward employees.
All fans are treated to a nine-inning vacation.
“We are constantly challenging ourselves to be both unique and innovative,” said President/General Manager Kurt Landes. “Whether it’s a new feature at the stadium, a special promotion or a giveaway, we take pride in offering a memorable experience unlike any other in the Valley. At the home of the IronPigs, the sky’s the limit!”
And the proof is in the pork.
Although Coca-Cola Park is only ten years old, the IronPigs have already spent millions in reinvestment projects to offer a variety of additional group hospitality areas and one-of-a-kind seating options. Prior to this past season, they installed a brand-new video system that features the largest HD display in Minor League Baseball.
Between caps, T-shirts, bobbleheads and other novelties, no team in the minors schedules more giveaway nights – or postgame fireworks shows — than the IronPigs. The organization has also been the first in the country to provide interactive fan experiences such as a social media cave and a urinal video game system. It also remains the first and only to welcome fans with bubbles upon entering through the main gates.
The IronPigs commitment to the fan experience extends to their ever-evolving concessions menu. Fans are invited to “pig out” with unique signature items – many of which are pork inspired. There are options as zany as the Sweet & Sassy (BBQ pulled pork served on a glazed donut roll topped with bacon and candied jalapeños) to others that are as simply delightful as a quarter-pound slice of candied bacon on a skewer. No matter what you are hankering, you can always add bacon to any food item at Bacon, USA (naturally).
On the subject of pork, the nightly Pork Race is perhaps the most anticipated moment of every game. While players like Pedro Martinez, Maikel Franco Freddy Galvis, and Rhys Hoskins have all donned an IronPigs uniform, no quartet has been more popular than mascots Chris P. Bacon, Diggity, Barbie-Q, and Hambone.
IronPigs fans have now gone hog wild for a full decade, but nobody said it would be easy.
After two failed independent franchises (professional teams not affiliated with Major League Baseball) in the prior decade, there were many in the community that didn’t think there would be enough support to make the IronPigs a successful venture.
But with a state-of-the-art facility — completed at $50 M in 2008 — and the vision of principle owners Joe Finley and Craig Stein, the IronPigs were an instant success. Despite owning the worst record in the International League in their inaugural season, the IronPigs averaged 8,479 fans in 71 home games – selling out a remarkable 49 times.
Coca-Cola Park and the IronPigs aren’t just about baseball. The organization holds countess special events at the facility throughout the year, from shindigs like the Wine and Cider Festival and the Bacon and Brew Bash to private functions like weddings and holiday parties. Coca-Cola Park was designed to be a 365-days-per-year venue.
The franchise is also active in its support of the community through IronPigs Charities, which was created to provide educational and recreational opportunities for Lehigh Valley youth. Since its inception in 2007, IronPigs Charities has distributed more than $1 M to local non-profit organizations.
After celebrating their 10-year anniversary this past season, the IronPigs now look forward to another riveting decade at their Field of Dreams… or perhaps more appropriately, Hog Heaven.