MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Downtown Memphis is getting bonus baseball this week. For the first time in three years, the Memphis Redbirds flew into the playoffs.
The AAA affiliate of the Saint Louis Cardinals will host Wednesday night’s game one and Thursday’s game two. It’s giving the local economy a boost in what’s typically a slower part of the year for downtown sporting events.
These playoff games mean thousands more people will be downtown, pumping money into bars and restaurants. The games provide an entertainment option for locals and tourists.
"Playoffs are always exciting. It's something you never take for granted,” says Memphis Redbirds general manager Craig Unger.
Following a dominating division winning season, the Redbirds kick off their postseason Wednesday at AutoZone Park.
"It's an exciting time of year to have September baseball in Memphis,” says Unger.
The playoff opener will have its fair share of local Redbirds fans, but also a good chunk of out-of-town visitors.
"Excited to catch a good game,” says Ben Pond.
Pond and his fiancée are visiting Memphis from the Orlando area.
"When we checked in, we saw the sign, talked to the girl who checked us in, she said the game was tonight, we had no plans, we came here really just with no plans in mind, whatever happens, happens,” says Pond.
"We're literally just staying around the corner, we didn't realize it was so close,” says Louise Daniel from London.
Daniel and Debbie Hogan saw the sign and made the purchase. These friends, in their first visit to Memphis from England, will have a Memphis Redbirds playoff game as part of their bluff city experience.
“Yeah, definitely, it's going to be exciting,” says Daniel.
“Yeah, we've never been to a baseball match and it's all you can eat chicken wings, so that's the main reason,” says Hogan.
Sarah Vadnais and her husband-to-be are visiting from out-of-town, and depositing some of their money into the local economy.
"We are right across the street so this is just perfect to come across and get a good game at a great price,” says Vadnais.
Redbirds leaders also hope to use this postseason appearance as a springboard for the 2018 season at AutoZone Park. The team increased average attendance by 16% last season, and 8% on top of that this year.
"Doing some other creative different promotions throughout the year, it's bringing people back, and we slowly to have continue to keep that momentum and make slow incremental increases year after year,” says Unger. “Anytime we have a game down here, there's an economic impact on downtown.”
The team will continue their popular regular season Thursday night deals in the postseason, namely the all-you-can-eat ticket option and $2 beer specials.
“For us, we believe that slow and steady wins the race, you know, we have to continue to make improvements every single year,” says Unger.
Should the Redbirds advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship next week, they'll play in Memphis next Tuesday and Wednesday night. As long as the team is in the playoffs, each game will start at 7:05 p.m.
This is the Redbirds 5th postseason appearance since this stadium opened in 2000.
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