From exploring careers to a doggie costume contest, there was something for everyone at Ed Smith Stadium during the Gulf Coast League Orioles summer season. In addition to offering free parking and admission for all 28 GCL Orioles home games, the Orioles presented family-friendly special events with a host of community partners and more than 80 participating organizations.
"We were excited to see so many fans coming out to watch our 'stars of tomorrow' on the Main Field at Ed Smith Stadium all season long for the first time," said DAVID ROVINE, Vice President of Orioles-Sarasota. "Several of our Major Leaguers got their professional start in GCL, and we can't wait to see the Class of 2018 advance through our player development system. With free admission and parking, a series of fun activities and events, and affordable concessions, the GCL Orioles season offered the perfect outing for fans of all ages."
Special events began on Saturday, June 23, with "Summerfest," a free, family fun day with games, giveaways, and chances to win premium prizes. Fans tested their skills at the giant sports inflatable, speed pitch, "Pitch for Prizes," corn hole, and Giant Jenga. Additional activities included caricature art, face painting, tic tac toe, a free photo booth, and more. A "Spin for Charity" booth raised money for All Faiths Food Bank while fans won Orioles-themed prizes, including Spring Training tickets.
On August 1 the Orioles hosted a Career Opportunity & Services Fair in partnership with CareerSource Suncoast, Goodwill Manasota, and the Women's Resource Center. More than 35 employers were on hand to discuss local job opportunities. Attendees also talked with experts about job coaching and learned tips for resumes and interviews.
Back to School was the theme for August 4, with free games, school supply giveaways, chances to win school gear, and more. As with every Saturday game, kids 14 and under received a free, premium giveaway.
On August 6 and August 8, the Orioles presented Wellness Week with more than 20 organizations participating. Activities included free health screenings, hands-on art classes, on-site nutrition and wellness experts, a seminar on normal aging and memory, a blood mobile, and more. Partners included the American Cancer Society, Arts for Health, Florida Department of Health - Sarasota County Health In Motion, HealthFit Powered by Sarasota Memorial, Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson's, and Suncoast Communities Blood Bank.
The Military Officers Association of America, Sarasota Chapter, joined the Orioles to present Veterans Appreciation Day on August 14. Veterans enjoyed camaraderie with other service members and received information on resources for veterans from more than 25 participating organizations. The first 500 active duty military and veterans received a special giveaway. In a special pre-game ceremony, the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team, "The Para-Commandos," dropped in to center field with the ceremonial first pitch ball.
Fans streamed into the ballpark with their dogs for Paws at the Park on August 18. Fans watched game action with their dogs, entered a doggie costume contest, made memories in the free photo booth, and learned about pet adoption opportunities. Fans also donated pet food for the Humane Society of Sarasota.
Throughout the season, fans were encouraged to bring a non-perishable item to help All Faiths Food Bank fight summer hunger in the community.
The Gulf Coast League season and special events are part of Sarasota 365, a host of initiatives through which the Baltimore Orioles and OriolesREACH demonstrate the ballclub's year-round engagement with the Greater Sarasota community. An independent analysis commissioned by Sarasota County Government concluded that the Orioles generate approximately $97 million in annual economic impact back to taxpayers and residents. By marketing Sarasota to fans in the Mid-Atlantic region, operating a year-round athletic training facility, producing entertainment and sporting events, partnering with charitable causes, and hosting and often subsidizing youth sports tournaments and activities, the Orioles demonstrate an abiding commitment to their Florida home that goes far beyond baseball. For more information, visit www.orioles.com/Sarasota.