By: Lauren Templin
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – After winning last season’s New York Collegiate Baseball League Championship, the Niagara Power are looking to grow on and off the field. With the addition of Stu Pederson as manager, the fans will notice other changes this season involving in-game experience.
Pederson is a retired baseball with Major League Baseball experience, who is now involved with coaching and developing players. The Niagara Power cannot be more excited to have him on the team.
Dr. Patrick Tutka, the Director of Baseball Operations, echoed Wheeler’s thoughts. Specifically referencing how Pederson’s sons, Joc and Tyger, are an MLB all-star and Los Angeles Dodgers draft selection respectively.
“Personally I couldn’t be more excited,” Tutka said. “He’s had success as a parent, he is all about developmental baseball, which is what this league and team are about. People are comfortable with him developing players.”
Since teams from around the country are comfortable with Pederson developing their players, there’s an added incentive for the return of past players and for new potential ones.
“Having Stu Pederson is also good for Division I baseball programs, because now we are having incoming players from bigger schools like UVA, in addition to the smaller Division 1 schools we have had in the past, because teams feel comfortable sending their players to us.” Tutka said.
Alec Wheeler, the head intern this season, echoed Tutka’s excitement to have Pederson around the organization.
“It is amazing we can get someone that has so much baseball knowledge and experience in our organization,” Wheeler said. “Former players have the most success with younger players because they know what leagues want and expect from them.”
Fans will not only notice a new manager, but also a different treatment this season when they come out to Sal Maglie Stadium (pictured). According to Tutka, that is one of the main focuses for the organization this season.
“We are increasing our focus on community engagement and developing our relationship with youth teams,” Tutka said.
Events within the community have been scheduled for this season, including “Kid’s Day,” which will be a daytime game in early June involving schools from the Niagara County region.
While the fans and community will be the focus, there will be more of an involvement in-game for all, as well says Tutka.
“There will be a better in-game experience,” Tutka said. “We are going to increase concessions and the merchandise. We will be doing more giveaways and making promotions inclusive for all.”
Fan interaction will be more of a focus on social media for the team this season, as well. Dan Richeal, media content intern, talked about an organization-wide goal of more social media interaction. Fans should look forward to a creativeness on social media that they haven’t seen that much in the past seasons.
“We’re focusing on more social media interaction, more fan-friendly interaction in the ballpark, and more creative content on social media,” Richeal said “Specifically, more behind the scenes and more player outlooks.”
With all the new additions coming to the organization and newly found focuses, this upcoming season the fans will be looking forward to coming to a Niagara Power game.
The season home opener will take place 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, vs. the Olean Oilers at Sal Maglie Stadium located at 1200 Hyde Park Blvd. Fans should arrive early for a special ceremony commemorating last season’s championship. For season tickets and schedule, visit the Niagara Power website at www.niagarapowerbaseball.com.
Image by: Franklin Heinzmann