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08/27/2009 9:58 AM ET
Harrisburg area named top MiLB market

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Harrisburg, Pa. -- On Monday the Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal (SBJ) ranked Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa., as the nation's No. 1 Minor League market for 2009. SBJ tracked 239 markets with Hershey-Harrisburg finishing at the top and Fort Wayne, Ind., and Tulsa, Okla., coming in second and third, respectively. Markets were ranked in three categories: tenure rank, attendance rank and economic rank. The rankings are done every two years and in the last ranking, Hershey-Harrisburg ranked second.

This past December, the City of Harrisburg and Harrisburg Senators announced a two-phase renovation project to Metro Bank Park. Phase I has been a tremendous success as evidenced by the dramatic increase in attendance. Phase II is set to begin within the next two weeks and the result next spring will be essentially a brand-new ballpark.

The Senators' success can also be attributed to their new outreaching efforts in the community. This season, Emily Winslow, Director of Community Relations, began the new Community Organization of the Night program, which has proved to be a success in assisting local charities get their message to more people.

These and other changes have helped the Senators draw more fans in 2009, and increase their advertising sales by over 10 percent. The Senators have drawn over 200,000 fans this season, the 22nd time in 23 years the team has accomplished this. The addition of the Senators' brand-new state-of-the-art video system and Capital BlueCross Boardwalk helped increase advertising sales and ticket sales in 2009.

"In Hershey-Harrisburg, the Bears and Senators continue on, being joined, in fact, by the American Indoor Football Association Stampede, which began play in the market this spring," according to David Broughton of the Sports Business Journal. "Together, the Minor League teams of Hershey-Harrisburg have played a combined 105 seasons in the market, trailing only Rochester, N.Y., whose five current clubs have a cumulative total of 187 years."

The Harrisburg Senators teamed up the Hershey Bears back in June to honor the 2009 Calder Cup Champions at the ballpark. Fans of both the Senators and Bears came out to see the 2009 Champs throw out first pitches, sign autographs and take pictures with the Calder Cup Trophy.

"We are proud to be a part of the market that is ranked number one in the country," said Kevin Kulp, Senators President. "There are a lot of very good Minor League markets, and to be ranked No. 1 is a true testament to the passion of the sports fans in this market. We now look forward to contributing towards defending that title in two years."

Tickets for any game at Metro Bank Park during the final homestand are available online 24 hours a day at www.senatorsbaseball.com. They are also available by phoning the Sens offices Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 717-231-4444 or by visiting the Little Red Ticket Box Office built by Home in Hand on the Walnut Street Bridge landing Mon.-Fri., 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or on game days from 9:00 a.m. through the conclusion of the game.