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The Official Site of Minor League Baseball
Best in the business: Strictly 'Bizzies'
Second annual offbeat awards honor Tampa, Quad Cities and more
11/20/2015 10:00 AM ET
Modern Woodmen Park's Ferris Wheel offers seating with a view, even after the game ends. (Sean Flynn Photography)

It's time to get Bizzie.

The Minoring in Business Awards -- or Bizzies, if you will -- were established in 2014 as a means to highlight teams who, in their own unique ways, have gone above and beyond in their quest to make the Minor League Baseball experience as memorable as possible.

The Bizzies do not exist in physical form, are broken up into arbitrarily chosen categories, and chosen solely by me based on teams I visited during the season. But an award's an award, right? Congratulations to all of the winners, as being included in this article surely represent the pinnacle of their existence as Minor League Baseball franchise.

Best Stadium Replica: Tampa Yankees, "Lego Steinbrenner Field"

Through the first four games of the 2015 season, the Tampa Yankees displayed a miniature version of Steinbrenner Field on the concourse. The stadium replica, designed by Mark Staffa of the Greater Florida Lego Users club, took approximately 10 months and 40,000 pieces to build. Clever details abounded; all of the outfield signage was from within the Lego universe (such as an ad for Brick Journal Magazine), and Star Wars stormtroopers could be spotted in the stands.


Best Ballpark Amusement Ride: Quad Cities River Bandits, "Ferris Wheel"

Walking up the stairs and onto the concourse of Modern Woodmen Park, one is greeted by a sight that seems hard to believe. But seeing is believing and, yes, that is a 105-foot-tall Ferris wheel looming beyond the left-field fence.

The wheel, purchased by River Bandits owner Dave Heller, spins during all ballgames as well as Friday and Saturday evenings and weekend mornings.

"It's a different way to think about the ballpark," said Heller. "This is a wonderful way to maximize our gorgeous venue all spring and summer long and well into the fall."


Best Dig at the Competition: Peoria Chiefs, "Norm and Al"

The Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League began play in 2009, competing for paying customers in a market that had previously been the sole domain of the Peoria Chiefs. The Chiefs' response to this affront can be summarized thusly: "Why go to Normal to see the CornBelters? We've got "Norm" and "Al" right here! And they're corn!"

Norm and Al gesticulate wildly on the warning track every time the Chiefs score a run, and also perform a meticulously crafted dance routine during the seventh-inning stretch.


Best Ballpark Snack: Norfolk Tides, "Salute to Pork Challenge"

Hits at the Park restaurant, located within the Tides' home of Harbor Park, offers the gargantuan "Salute to Pork" platter -- four BBQ pork sliders, four 4-ounce Cajun-smoked sausages, 12 pork wings (the equivalent of a full rack of ribs) and bacon and chili cheese tots. It's enough to feed a family of four, but the gluttonous among us can opt to take the "Salute to Pork Challenge."

Those who eat it in an hour or less receive meat consumption immortality via enshrinement in the "Big Pig Hall of Fame." Regarding those who failed? At least they died trying.

Best Between-Inning Fan Cam: Jackson Generals, "Oblivious Cam"

Forget Kiss Cams and Dance Cams and Bongo Cams and all the rest, for the Jackson Generals have hit upon a between-inning visual innovation to rule them. As Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" wafts over the speakers, the "Oblivious Cam" picks out unsuspecting patrons and keeps the camera on them until they actually notice. Hello? Hello? Anybody home?

Best In-Stadium Game: Nashville Sounds, "Band Box Shuffleboard Table"

These days, many fans at Minor League games don't actually watch the game. Instead, they play games of their own. Through the years I've seen stadiums featuring ping-pong tables, pool tables, cornhole and video games, but the Sounds are the first to add a shuffleboard table. Theirs is located in the "Band Box" right-field seating area, amid picnic tables, ping pong, lounge furniture and a full bar. Who needs baseball?

Best Toilet: Portland Sea Dogs, "Dugout John"

This is the lone holdover category from the 2014 Bizzie Awards, simply because it is imperative to honor toilets. This year's nod goes to the Portland Sea Dogs, who have a toilet installed at the far end of the home dugout. Players don't have to trek to a nearby tunnel -- or God forbid, the clubhouse -- to use the john. It's only a few steps away, right under the fans' noses.

Best Parking Lot Signage: Kane County Cougars, "When Leaving the Ballpark…"

It's a common problem: You want to drive out of the stadium after seeing a ballgame, but aren't sure how to do it. At the Cougars' home of Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, all the guesswork is taken out of the equation thanks to well-displayed parking lot signage. "When Leaving the Ballpark," the sign begins, a simple setup for an exquisitely simple denouement. "Please exit." And just like that, all your problems are solved.


Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs. Comments