MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The 2015 season marks the 17th season for the Pelicans franchise and first as the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The team plans to knock it out of the park this year.
Opening Day features a game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. It includes a fireworks extravaganza and Thirsty Thursday with one dollar beers.
Friday night is a chance for our local students to show off their skills for the 3rd Annual Robotics Night. Every night features at least one way to give back to the local community. Locals appreciation night is Saturday which means a discount off your ticket. That same night is about embracing Veterans and the beginning of the strikeout cancer series.
The Pelicans General Manager says this year is unlike any other, especially with the teams brand new roster. This year there are players from nine different countries including Italy, South Africa and even Taiwan.
"We're excited about the makeup and the diversity that we have for a community that really prides itself on diversity and attracting people from all over the country its really unique," said Pelicans General Manager Andy Milovich. "We've got a couple of home grown kids as well."
Milovich said having a diverse team with players from other countries brings more attention to Myrtle Beach. He says since adding the international players, they've already seen an uptick in interest.
Based off of ticket sales already, it looks like the Pelicans are on the way to another record breaking year
"We're trending a little bit ahead of where we were last year," said Milovich. "Last year was the best year in the 16 year history of the franchise."
That's thanks to the quarter of a million fans that showed their support. Milovich said last year, 63,000 people from Horry and Georgetown Counties alone, came to the ballpark at least once.
Once the summer hits, that's when out-of-state ticket sales really boom. He says the Pelicans see a lot of tourists from the northeast. The number one out of state ticket drivers are our visitors from North Carolina. The team is hoping the new affiliation with the Cubs will attract even more people from the mid-west.
There is a method to how the Pelicans are targeting game goers. In the past two years, they've made a push to sell tickets online. This allows them to see who's coming, where they're coming from and what they're doing when they come to the ballpark.
A big pull to the games, especially for locals, is the charitable efforts like the Strikeout Cancer Series.
"What we've seen is our local attendees have grown by 26% as a result," said Milovich. "So, not only is it the right thing to do and an important thing to do but its been good for business as well which is great."
Since 2012 the Pelicans supported more than 300 organizations. Last year the Pelicans raised more than $465,000 dollars for charities. They're hoping to "play it forward" even more this year.