There is nothing like a good, old-fashioned brain-storming session to get the creative juices flowing.
On Thursday, the Quad Cities River Bandits revealed the results of Modern Woodmen Bank's Name the Promotion Contest, a fan-voting initiative in which River Bandits nation was invited to suggest - and then vote for - the promotion they most want to see become a reality at Modern Woodmen Park this summer.
Thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of the people of the Quad Cities, the River Bandits emerged from the contest with three unique and exciting promotional ideas. The winner of the contest was the Bandit Wedding, which took the top spot despite the Van Down by the River and Elvis Night also receiving significant support.
"We ran this contest because we wanted great ideas, and that is exactly what we got," said team owner Dave Heller. "We are always looking for new ways to keep the entertainment at Modern Woodmen Park fresh and exciting. We were hoping to get one great idea, but instead we got three. So we said, 'If we've got three great ideas, why not do all three?' We owe our fans a great deal of appreciation for coming up with a great list of fantastic promotions that will enhance the game day experience in 2009."
The winner of the contest was the Bandit Wedding, an idea that was suggested by many fans. One lucky couple will have the wedding of a lifetime and get married on the Modern Woodmen Park diamond immediately before Fan Appreciation Day on September 4. Blake Humphrey of Rock Island, who was selected at random from the pool of fans that suggested the promotion, will receive four free tickets to the game, the opportunity to throw out the first pitch and a prize pack loaded with River Bandits merchandise and other specialty items.
"I'm really excited about this," said Humphrey, who married his wife on Valentine's Day in 2008 after winning a dream wedding in a similar contest. "My wife and I had a great experience and got a lot of unique memories from it. I'm looking forward to watching it and sharing in the experience with the lucky couple that ends up winning the Bandit Wedding."
Although they did not win the contest, two other promotions were exciting enough that the River Bandits have decided to run them as well.
Thanks to an email submission from Jody Swanson of Geneseo, the Van Down by the River will be parked on the right field berm. On a season-long basis, tickets to the seating in the decked-out River Bandits van will be given away live by Dwyer and Michaels on their morning show on 97X. At the start of each game, the Bandits will make a donation to a new fund called the "Jack Squat Jackpot" in honor of Chris Farley's famous Saturday Night Live skit. If a River Bandits player hits the van with a home run ball, those sitting in the van will receive half the money in the jackpot while the other half will be donated to charity. For her idea, Swanson will enjoy a game from the Van Down by the River this season and will receive the opportunity to throw out a first pitch.
Elvis Night was also a popular choice throughout the contest, so the River Bandits will also be saluting The King during the 2009 season. The theme night will feature Elvis' music, a costume contest and more fun in honor of the Rock 'N Roll superstar. Jason Heinz of Rock Island was chosen to represent those that suggested Elvis Night, and for his great idea he will be throwing out the first pitch on Elvis Night and judging the costume contest.
"We're in full gear now," said River Bandits Vice President and General Manager Kirk Goodman. "Single-game tickets just went on sale and we've got a jam-packed promotional schedule on tap for the 2009 season. It is going to be another non-stop ride of great fun, unbeatable value and lifelong memories. We can't wait for April to roll around so we can get this thing going!"
UP NEXT: The River Bandits will kick off the 2009 season early on Sunday, April 5, welcoming in the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in an exhibition game at Modern Woodmen Park. On Tuesday, April 21, the park will play host to NCAA Division I baseball for the first time with a match-up between the University of Iowa and Western Illinois. The River Bandits' regular season home-opener will take place on April 13 against the Beloit Snappers. Tickets for the 2009 regular season as well as the exhibition and college game are available by calling (563) 3-BANDIT, going to www.RiverBandits.com or stopping by the Modern Woodmen Park box office.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Under new ownership and management in 2008, the Quad Cities River Bandits topped 207,000 fans for only the sixth time in team history and the first time in 12 years. Having recently completed one of the most successful seasons in the history of the franchise, the club has stayed busy over the off-season as a popular venue for holiday parties and other special events. With a renewed dedication to fans, sponsors and the Quad Cities community, the return of the River Bandits has brought a resurgence of support for the team. BanditWear, season tickets and mini-plans are on sale for the 2009 season by calling (563) 3-BANDIT or heading to www.RiverBandits.com. But hurry - good seats are going fast!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.