By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Last fall, the city of Bristol celebrated two landmarks at Muzzy Field: the ribbon cutting of a new plaza and the announcement of a new collegiate baseball team league called the Bristol Blues.
Formed in 2011, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League is the only summer collegiate baseball league in New England that has current minor league and professional baseball operators. Consisting of a total of 30 players, the Bristol Blues will play 28 home games at Muzzy this summer. About 15 of these players alone are from Connecticut and other players are from New England states as well as Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
Elliot Scheiner, an eighth-time Grammy winner with experience working with legendary performers, is one of the team’s co-owners. The ownership team also includes David and Steve Lindland and Tonino Mavuli.
The first home game will take place June 5, and the season will end mid-August.
During an exclusive interview with the Bristol Observer, Rick Muntean, the general manager for the Bristol Blues, spoke about what baseball fans can expect this summer with the presence of a new community asset.
What kind of entertainment can baseball fans expect to see when they come to a Bristol Blues game at Muzzy?
From beer and wine to food to merchandise, baseball fans will have a variety of entertainment to look forward to when they see a Bristol Blues game, said Muntean. There will be at least eight firework shows, the big dice roll, human bowling, and different giveaways, as well as a name-a-mascot contest.
“I think people are really going to embrace the fireworks shows,” said Muntean.
In addition, fans can look forward to the team’s plan to memorialize the presence of Babe Ruth who played at the 100-year-old Muzzy Field. At the opening game against the North Shore Navigators on Friday, June 5, the team also will welcome one of Ruth’s granddaughters.
What kind of impact will the Bristol Blues make on the Bristol community economically?
Muntean said the presence of the Bristol Blues in the community will have a two-fold effect. Besides being a new tax entity, the team’s presence will support the city’s efforts to enhance the West End and promote activity there.
“Just by the nature of having 28 home games, and the type of operation that we’re going to run…it will kind of get the ball rolling faster, stronger on that side of town,” said Muntean. “We’re going to…draw people to the area, show them what it’s like on the West End and show them a good time.”
How will the team play a role in the lives of children who aspire to play baseball?
With the presence of several little leagues in Bristol, the team hopes to serve as an inspiration to all children whether they play baseball or not. The team also wants to give the local Little Leagues a sense of hope.
“We’re going to do clinics, we’re going to invite them out to games,” said Muntean, adding that they would like to inspire children in and outside Bristol. “We want to be heroes to these kids and show them it’s a fun game…but there’s also a chance you might be able to play at this level or beyond.”
Muntean added the Blues ope to “perpetuate the great game of baseball on a grassroots level” by encouraging children to try the sport, even if it is just in their backyard.
“The health of baseball is one of our focuses,” said Muntean, adding the team also will reach out to the high school baseball players and American Legion players.
Barry Lyons, a former pitcher for the New York Mets, will coach the Bristol Blues during its first season. How will his coaching not only enhance the team’s performance, but also make an impact on the players’ overall experience on the team?
Muntean said summer college baseball exists so these young players can “play in a very good league using a wood bat,” “play in a professional-type schedule,” and “play the game the right way.” A major fan of the Mets, Elliot Scheiner met Lyons a few years ago, said Muntean.
“We want these guys to learn how to play professional baseball,” said Muntean. “We brought Barry in to show these guys how to play pro-baseball.”
How will the Bristol Blues players be housed this season? Most of the players who are from Connecticut will live at home, but at least 15 players will live with “host families” who live in Bristol or in other surrounding communities.
“We’re still looking for families,” said Muntean. “We have a pretty good list—some people who have done it before came back on board.”
What does pricing look like for tickets and merchandise?
The Bristol Blues will have ticket plans to match any fan’s budget, said Muntean. Season tickets are available. Reserved grandstand seats for every home game cost $149 apiece and general admission bleachers are $99 each. Fans also can get a $50 flex pack for 10 reserved grandstand seats or 13 general admission ones.
Caps will be sold at a cost of no more than $20, said Muntean, adding that other merchandise will be sold at an affordable cost.
“We are very conscious of cost,” said Muntean. “The merchandise is going to be priced right, and we’ll give number of opportunities to take advantage of low pricing at the concession stands with dollar beer nights, dollar hot dog night.”
Muntean added there will be picnic area for corporate outings as well as a children’s area. In addition, fans will have access to group packages, a birthday party field suite, and a catered party tent.
“We’re going to really go after groups,” said Muntean, adding how he hopes the games will bring a crowd of at least 2,000 people.
For more information about the Bristol Blues, visit http://bristolblues.pointstreaksites.com/view/bristolblues/home-page-657.