Dayton is third Midwest League club to garner honor
By Minor League Baseball | November 20, 2012 5:16 AM ET
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball™ announced Tuesday that the Dayton Dragons are the winners of the John H. Johnson President's Award. The Dragons will receive their major award at the Baseball Winter Meetings™ Banquet at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville on Thursday, Dec. 6.
The President's Award, Minor League Baseball's top honor, has been presented annually since 1974 to honor the complete baseball franchise. The award's criteria are based on franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. The Dayton Dragons are just the third Midwest League club to win the John H. Johnson President's Award, joining the Quad-City Cubs (1980) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (2008).
The Dragons have sold out a professional record 913 games in a row since they began play in Dayton in 2000. The club broke the record of 814 games held by the NBA Portland Trailblazers from (1977-95) in 2011. Their incredible accomplishment has also allowed the Dragons to establish a new Class A® regular season attendance mark on four occasions.
From day one, Dayton has preached "unsurpassed customer service" to their full-time and seasonal employees as a major part of their business philosophy. Preseason and in season training sessions, known as Dragons University, a customer service committee and employee performance recognition programs are some of the elements that embody this philosophy. The fact that the club's retention rate of employees has averaged more than 90% is a testament to the efforts of the Dragons during their 13 seasons in this southwest Ohio city.
Dayton feels that every game must be a great event and sports entertainment experience. The club spends a great deal of time and resources insuring that fans are entertained from the moment they enter Fifth Third Field to when they exit it. The Dragons use a variety of skits, dance routines, movie clips and scoreboard interaction to make sure the product surrounding the action on the field remains fresh and entertaining.
Mascots Gem and Heater and Roofman, who turns baseballs that get stuck on the roof into softee balls and then gives them to fans, are staples at every home game.
The Dragons impact on the Dayton community is extremely large, in scope. Initiatives such as the MVP Program, an educational tool for fourth and fifth grade teachers to use to motivate and reward their students; the Hometown Heroes Program honoring military members and their families; and Home Run for Life, where someone who has overcome a significant medical event takes a symbolic home run lap around the bases during a game, interacting with players from both clubs along the way, are just a few of the ways Dayton gives back to its community.
Dayton also hosts several charitable walks, runs and other events at its ballpark throughout the year. They donated to more than 500 groups in the form of money, sponsorships and gifts in-kind. The Dragons made more than 200 player and mascot appearances and 100 speaking engagements this year.
The Dragons also have a concession stand program in place that has given back more than $3.9 million to nonprofits that have volunteered to work the concessions during games.
Fifth Third Field, which received new grass and an irrigation and drainage system before the season, also hosts Cedarville University, Sinclair Community College and high school baseball games, as well as various clinics, including one for mentally challenged children and adults.
This year, the Dragons became the first minor league club from any sport to be nominated as a finalist for Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal "Team of the Year."
"The Dayton Dragons epitomize how a Minor League Baseball club should operate, as well as become a cornerstone for the community in which they reside," Pat O'Conner, President of Minor League Baseball, said. "Their philosophies and business models involving the game day experience, customer service and local initiatives and events have proven to be rock solid and have really been embraced by the Dayton community.
"The Dragons' incredible streak of selling out every one of their 913 home games further validates their selection to receive our highest honor, the John H. Johnson President's Award."
"On behalf of the Dayton Dragons organization we are very proud and excited to be selected as the 2012 John H. Johnson Award winner," remarked Dayton Dragons President Bob Murphy. "This has truly been a collaborative effort. The success of the Dayton Dragons is due to the hard work of many.
"First, we must thank the great fans of Dragons Baseball. They are the best fans in the country. Our corporate partners and our suite holders have been terrific in supporting our team and the many great programs in the Dayton community. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many community leaders who have worked with us to make Dayton baseball great.
"In the spirit of not forgetting those who have helped us along the way, we would like to thank the staff of Minor League Baseball, our league President, Mr. George Spelius, our partner teams in the Midwest League, and our affiliate, the Cincinnati Reds. Each of these organizations has been very important to us through our 13-year history.
"To our ownership group, Mandalay Baseball Properties, thank you for believing in us, in what we do, and how we do it.
"To all of our staff through the years, thank you. There are no other words that can convey our gratitude for all that you have done."
John H. Johnson President's Award Winners
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.