On Sunday afternoon, the Lexington Legends provided their fans with what they described as a "luxury baseball experience." It didn't exactly turn out that way, but that was the plan all along.
The Class A Kansas City Royals affiliate's ostensibly luxurious approach was an homage to Fyre Fest, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule's 2017 concert festival debacle that, one year later, was the subject of competing Netflix and Hulu documentaries. Upon arriving at the festival's Great Exuma island location, attendees found that their VIP sleeping arrangements consisted of spartan tents and waterlogged mattresses. Meanwhile, the promised gourmet food concocted by celebrity chefs turned out to be hastily assembled cheese sandwiches. On and on the indignities went, resulting in plenty of fodder for a Minor League Baseball promotion.
"Our office is big into documentaries," said Legends director of broadcasting and media relations Emma Tiedemann. "We took the idea and ran with it, and were able to execute it [Sunday]. Unfortunately, we were not able to deliver on the VIP villas, but our fans had a pretty unique experience."
The VIP villas turned out to be a small, haphazard pile of mattresses. Cheese sandwiches, accompanied by a small salad, were available at the concession stands for the bargain price of $2. On-field host "Mykraphone" Mike Allison was equipped with a megaphone, yelling at fans throughout the afternoon in the style of an overwhelmed Fyre Fest organizer. The Legends also reconfigured their logo for the videoboard, putting their signature mustache against a Fyre Fest-style bright orange backdrop.
"We wrote on the [cheese sandwich] box 'No refunds courtesy of Ja Rule,'" Tiedemann said. "The musical guests didn't show up, but we were able to play the music that people didn't actually hear at Fyre Fest. The headshots of the opposing [Greenville Drive] team featured different subjects of the documentaries. ... It was an interesting balance of intentionally underperforming and laughing at the things that [Fyre Fest organizers] actually did."
Individuals featured in the Fyre Fest documentaries appeared on the Legends' videboard
The Legends are no strangers to satirical theme night promos, as last season they staged a Millennial Night promotion that received national publicity (and no small amount of histrionic online criticism).
"We were ready for some [Fyre Fest] backlash because of Millennial Night, but we had a lot of fans who specifically came out for this," said Tiedemann. "And we had a lot of great social media interactions with fans who were more lighthearted about the whole thing. ... We had some people who didn't get it and asked questions, but we were able to explain it and get everyone on the same page. If anything, we ended up promoting the Fyre Fest documentaries."
And just as there were two similarly-timed documentaries, there are two similarly-timed Fyre Fest Minor League Baseball promos. Tuesday, April 30, the Columbia Fireflies are hosting a "Fire Festival." The Fireflies' iteration will also include cheese sandwiches, while adding original elements such as Apple product giveaways and, in a nod to one of McFarland's previous business ventures, free admission to all Magnises card members.
"Some people like the Netflix documentary, some like the Hulu one," said Tiedemann, as a way to compare the Legends and Fireflies' dueling promos. "We'll be interested to see the differences and the similarities."
Interested in what else is going on this week in the world of Minor League Baseball promotions? One notable highlight from each, or at least most, days of the week follows forthwith:
April 30: On "Male Pattern Baldness Night," the Fort Myers Miracle are offering $5 tickets for those affected.
May 1: This writer is unaware of any particularly notable promotions taking place on this month-starting Wednesday.
May 2: The Salem Red Sox debut their new "Salem Beer Mongers" Thursday-night alternate identity.
May 3: Distinguished Stocktonian Dallas Braden, former pitcher and current broadcaster, will once again be honored by the Stockton Ports with his own bobblehead. This time he'll keep his shirt on.
May 4: Minor League teams across America are celebrating the unofficial "Star Wars" holiday that is "May the Fourth." Stay tuned, as a "Star Wars"-themed edition of this column will appear on MiLB.com on Thursday.
May 5: May the Fourth gives way to Cinco de Mayo, and many teams are celebrating by playing as their Copa de la Diversión alternate identity. The Erie SeaWolves are one such team; they'll be making their debut as the Piñatas.
May 6: It's a cover-up! The El Paso Chihuahuas are giving away road jersey blankets, while supplies last.