The combination of playing in the Best Minor League Ballpark in America, being an affiliate of the Houston Astros, who possess the No. 1-rated minor league farm system, and defending the Midwest League Championship is just the beginning for the Quad Cities River Bandits this season. After earning multiple national promotional awards, the club is amplifying its most popular gameday giveaways, events, themes and entertainment while adding more unique shows to fill its 2014 promotional schedule.
Beginning with the bobblehead giveaways and weekly promotions announced earlier this month, the River Bandits released the rest of their full promotional slate at a press conference Tuesday in the Bandits Business Center powered by Bradfield's at Modern Woodmen Park. Highlighting the schedule are more than two dozen free giveaways, including eight "bobble" items, and a dozen fireworks nights.
"For every day and night that we open the gates of Modern Woodmen Park, our goal is to give our guests of all ages a great experience, great value and lasting memories. To do so, we have an incredible lineup of family-friendly fun this season," said team owner Dave Heller. "With more than two dozen giveaways, a dozen fireworks nights, more charitable events, new theme nights and numerous celebrations of what makes the Quad Cities unique and special, no one will want to miss the excitement that every game will offer this season!"
Below are the highlights of the promotions announced on Tuesday:
Return of the Champions: On Opening Day, Thursday, April 3, the River Bandits will take the field for the first time since winning the 2013 Midwest League Championship, which was the team's second in three years and sixth in Quad Cities franchise history. When the Modern Woodmen Park gates open at 5:30 p.m., the first 1,000 fans will receive a championship pennant courtesy of Mediacom. On Opening Day and Friday, April 4, the first 2,500 fans to each game will also receive free 2014 magnet schedules - and one lucky fan will win a brand new refrigerator, because what good is a magnet schedule if you have no place to put it?
Award-Winning Charity Efforts: The River Bandits were the first U.S. professional sports team to auction photo jerseys for local cancer charities in 2012, and the 2013 Autism Awareness Photo Jersey Auction earned a Golden Bobblehead Award for the Best Charity Promotion in all of Minor League Baseball. The third annual photo jersey auction will take place on Autism Awareness Night presented by KWQC, Friday, Aug. 8. Fans can again purchase small squares in the River Bandits players' jersey numbers to feature a photograph of themselves, a family member or friend, or in honor of a loved one affected by autism. After the game, the jerseys will be auctioned off, with all the proceeds benefitting the Quad Cities Autism Center. A limited number of squares are available for purchase at $25 each, with all of the money raised going to the Quad Cities Autism Center. More information is available by calling (563) 324-3000.
The River Bandits will continue another successful charity event with the second annual Bandits Race to Home 5K and Kids Fun Run presented by Palmer Chiropractic Clinics on Saturday, April 12, at 8 a.m. Registration is required by April 10 at riverbandits.com/5K. All proceeds from the race benefit the Bandit Scholars Program, which will award its two annual college scholarships for a full first year of tuition to two Quad Cities-area students at the River Bandits game Sunday, June 15. In the same week, the charity promotional lineup will expand for three new events. A new pink jersey auction will highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Genesis Health Systems and the Quad-City Times on Friday, June 13. Then Pack the Truck Night benefiting the River Bend Food Bank will be Thursday, June 19. Finally, the Quad Cities Area McDonald's will present Ronald McDonald House Charities Awareness Night on Friday, June 20.
Giveaways Galore & Plentiful Prizes: More than two dozen free giveaways are on the promotional schedule for the 2014 season, including eight "bobble" items announced earlier this month. The new giveaways include the Camo Drawstring Backpack Giveaway presented by Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (Thursday, May 1), the Sport Bottle Giveaway presented by Total Turf & Landscape (Friday, May 9), the Winter Blanket Giveaway presented by the Clarion Hotel (Saturday, May 10), the Pint Glass Giveaway on Agriculture Night presented by Illinois Farm Bureau (Friday, July 18), and the Team Photo Giveaway presented by Burlington Trailways (Wednesday, July 30). Returning for multiple nights are the Modern Woodmen Hat Giveaways (Thursday, June 19; Thursday, July 17; and Thursday, Aug. 28) and Hy-Vee Tote Bag Giveaways (Sunday, July 6, and Sunday, Aug. 10). The Bandits are also stepping up the big-ticket prize items fans can win at games this season. Led by the fifth annual award-winning Reynolds Ford Used Car Giveaway (Thursday, July 10), the schedule also brings back the McGivern's Mega Jewelry Giveaway (Wednesday, July 9), the Mega Bicycle Giveaway (Sunday, June 8), Cardinals Fantacular Giveaway (Sunday, June 9), and a bigger-than-ever Flat Screen Family Sunday (Aug. 10), as well as the all-new Budweiser Mega Mini Fridge Giveaway (Sunday, June 15).
Celebrating the Community: The people of the Quad Cities region deserve more than just a single night or series for appreciation. So beginning with an absolutely free baseball game for everyone (that's right, no admission price!) on Quad Cities Community Appreciation Night on Tuesday, April 15, the River Bandits are packing the season with recognition and celebration of many unique contributors to the Quad Cities community. There will be two nights to honor service men and women - AUSA Military Appreciation Night (Friday, May 9) and the fourth annual Camo Jersey Auction presented by the Iowa Army National Guard (Friday, May 23). Other tributes and celebrations include College Night presented by Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (Thursday, May 1), Faith & Fellowship Night presented by Chick-fil-A and Moody Radio (Sunday, June 22), Agriculture Night presented by the Illinois Farm Bureau (Friday, July 18) and Global Cultural Night presented by Tyson Fresh Meats (Friday, Aug. 15). There will also be Irish Heritage and Go Green Night (Wednesday, May 7), Ladies Night (Thursday, May 29), the Businessman Special with a 1 p.m. Monday game (July 21), and Badges and Ladders Night (Saturday, Aug. 9). It all concludes with a whopping Fan Appreciation Night at the final regular season home game on Friday, Aug. 29.
Cool for the Kids: The River Bandits have big plans for just the kids, too. Those begin with the annual pregame Nintendo Wii-ster Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19, the night before Easter. That night will also kick off recognition of the 2014 Book Buddies reading program graduates, whom the River Bandits will also host at three 11 a.m. Tuesday home games (April 29, May 6, May 20), as well as Friday, May 9. On back-to-back nights, Gander Mountain will present Boy Scout Night (Friday, June 20) and Girl Scout Night (Saturday, June 21). There is also Little League Day (Sunday, June 8) and Camp Day (Monday, July 21), as well as the award-winning annual Mega Candy Drop following the game on Sunday, July 20. The best way for the kids to "have it all" at the ballpark is with the River Bandits Kids Club. For a $30 package, members get free admission to every regular season home game, a membership card and T-shirt, a 10 percent discount on team store merchandise, and much more, including the chance to participate in Sunday postgame Kids Club events, which are planned for April 6, June 8, and Aug. 17.
Happy Holidays: Modern Woodmen Park is the place to host not only baseball, but so many holidays for families in the Quad Cities as well. This season the River Bandits will put their style on celebrations of Cinco de Mayo presented by the Quad-City Times (Monday, May 5), a car show for the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang (Monday, May 19), Mother's Day (Saturday, May 10), Father's Day with catch in the outfield (Sunday, June 15), mascot Rascal the River Bandit's Birthday Bash (Wednesday, July 9), and Halloween (Sunday, July 6) and Christmas in July (Saturday, July 19). And while the team is on the road Thursday, July 3, Modern Woodmen Park will still be open with free admission to give the Quad Cities community the best view of the annual Red, White & Boom Fireworks. Plus, after their game Friday, July 4, the River Bandits will have Fourth of July Fireworks presented by Smart Toyota of the Quad Cities, WLLR and WQAD.
Entertainment & Special Themes: The River Bandits put on a new show for every game, and this season will include the most popular annual theme nights and add a few fresh ones. The annual Pro Wrestling Night (Thursday, July 31) will feature an appearance by WWE Hall of Famer "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. The famous Russian Bar Trio presented by the Dispatch-Argus will perform on Saturday, June 14, when fans will also see the annual Vintage Baseball game before the River Bandits home contest. The River Bandits will again have Guaranteed Win Night (Wednesday, April 16), when fans in attendance will see a River Bandits victory or receive a ticket to the next Wednesday home game on April 30. Ticket prices will correspond to gas prices for the second annual Petrolpalooza Night presented by BP (Friday, May 30). Other themes to set the ballpark ambience include Hunger Games Night presented by Epix (Monday, June 9), Legends of Rock (Wednesday, April 16), Superhero (Wednesday, April 30), Survivor (Wednesday, May 21), Date Night Out (Thursday, May 22), Game Show (Wednesday, May 28), Disco Night with '70s pricing on food and beer (Tuesday, July 8), Jimmy Buffett Night (Wednesday, July 9), Star Wars (Wednesday, July 30), Ninja Turtles (Wednesday, Aug. 6) and Pirates & Princesses (Sunday, Aug. 17).
"We are delighted to bring back so many of our most popular promotions - bobbleheads, jersey auctions, great giveaways, daily deals, themes and celebrations - and build upon them with new experiences and opportunities to have fun at the ballpark this season," said River Bandits General Manager Andrew Chesser. "We cannot wait to welcome fans in the Quad Cities back to the Best Minor League Ballpark and give them an amazing show and outstanding hospitality that will create special memories at every game this season."
The complete 2014 promotional schedule is available at www.riverbandits.com. Ticket packages are available by calling (563) 324-3000.
UP NEXT: Opening Day is April 3, so lock in your seats now to see the defending Midwest League Champions in 2014! To order any of the ticket plans - with new lower prices - call the River Bandits box office at 563-324-3000 or visit www.riverbandits.com to download the season ticket order form. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $40. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Having just been named Ballpark Digest's winner of Best Ballpark Improvement in America under $1 million, the River Bandits ownership is making one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 110 feet over the playing field, is opening this spring, along with a carousel, a new ride called a "Drop and Twist," an expanded 300-foot long zip line, and many other new games and attractions. In 2013, the team unveiled a new 220-foot long dual zip line, a rock climbing wall, and a number of new bounce houses. The team's major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, just saw all six of its affiliates reach the playoffs - the first time in a decade any MLB team can claim such success. The River Bandits were one of three affiliates to reach the championship round and one of two to win their league championship.