MYRTLE BEACH (Press Release) — After a successful debut season as a Chicago Cubs affiliate that included a league championship, brand new attendance record and a number of creative promotions, Baseball America has named the Myrtle Beach Pelicans the Bob Freitas Class A Award winner. The award recognizes long-term excellence and is presented to the organization with the best overall operation at each level of Minor League Baseball. Earlier this week, President and General Manager Andy Milovich accepted the prestigious award on behalf of the Pelicans at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN.
“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by Baseball America as the top franchise in Class A,” said Milovich. “It’s a testament to a great ownership, fantastic staff and a community that is incredibly supportive of the Pelicans.”
Since Greenberg Sports Group purchased the club in 2006, the Pelicans have poured more than $4 million into ballpark improvements. The 2015 season marked the fifth straight year that TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark was ranked by Stadium Journey as the top ballpark experience in the Carolina League and among the top ten best in all of Minor League Baseball, finishing eighth of out 160 parks on the list.
Thanks to innovative and entertaining promotions such as Prostate Cancer Awareness Night, Christmas Vacation in July and Old School Hip Hop Night, the Pelicans welcomed an average of 3,877 fans through the gates of TicketReturn.com Field in 2015, setting a franchise record for the second straight season. Despite eight lost gates, Myrtle Beach finished with a total attendance of 240,357, which ranks third all-time in the history of the franchise. The Pelicans drew 15 sellout crowds, and on three occasions, the club welcomed a max-capacity, standing-room-only sellout crowd of 6,599 fans.
In addition to their focus on the local community, the club worked to draw vacationers, specifically Cubs fans, to Myrtle Beach. One social media campaign targeted at Cubs fans was “9 Innings of Winning,” in which the Pelicans partnered with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cubs, all Cubs affiliates and several well-known Cubs bloggers to giveaway prizes each inning during a nationally televised game in June. Another campaign targeted at visitors stemmed from a partnership with Horry County Department of Airports. The Pelicans launched an advertising campaign at Myrtle Beach International Airport that featured a recorded greeting from Cubs manager Joe Maddon welcoming visitors to the Grand Strand. The club also sent their “street team” to greet direct flights from Chicago and hung jerseys with the numbers correlating with the baggage carousel at the airport. The club’s efforts to become a regional and national power saw the team’s Twitter followers increased by 200 percent, Facebook likes jumped by 60 percent and Instagram followers vaulted from 844 to more than 3,200 by the season’s end.
The club’s efforts continued into the offseason, as the Pelicans teamed up with three other South Carolina minor league teams to create a joint GoFundMe page that supported flood victims in the state. Additionally, Myrtle Beach was the Carolina League’s nominee for the MacPhail Award, Director of Marketing Kristin Call was named Carolina League Female Executive of the Year and former Media Relations Manager Nathan Barnett was honored as the circuit’s Broadcaster of the Year.