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Wilmington Sharks Owners Plan For Field Upgrades, Attendance Boost

By Ryan Haar, posted May 11, 2017
CAPTION: National Sports Services President Matt Perry speaks at a press conference on Thursday at Buck Hardee field about plans for the Sharks baseball franchise. (Photo by Ryan Haar)
The “Sharks are going to have to build a bigger boat” to accommodate plans to expand the collegiate summer baseball team’s popularity, the franchise’s new co-owner said Thursday.
 
Matt Perry, president of Kansas-based National Sports Services, said team has the potential to become a summer entertainment option not just in Wilmington, but also for surrounding cities and counties.
 
Perry, co-owner of the franchise along with National Sports Services CEO Bill Davidson, spoke at a press conference on Thursday at Buck Hardee field, addressing improvements and changes for the team’s facilities and marketing strategies to increase attendance. Davidson will serve as a managing member of the Sharks franchise, with Perry acting as president and involved in the day-to-day activities, team officials said.
 
There are several ways in which Perry hopes to increase interest for the team. The first is through improvements to Buck Hardee Field, the Shark’s home ballpark.
 
The owners plan to upgrade the facility through simple improvements such as repainting, installing new bleachers and replacing old equipment as well as making the field more tech-friendly.
 
Plans also call for a new and improved ticketing system, which Perry said he expects to increase game attendance.  Attendees will now be able to purchase their seats online from an option of three different tiers, a change from previous years.
 
Perry said he expects these changes to be implemented by the team’s game-opener on May 30. The season runs through Aug. 19.
 
Average game attendance had been about 1,000, team officials said, adding that the franchise record was about 3,300 during the teams last regular season game in 2016. The Sharks’ goal, with the upcoming changes, is to see average game turnouts at more than 3,000 starting this summer, officials said.
 
“I want to invest the money to do this right,” said Perry, who is the Shark’s third owner in five years.
 
The Sharks has brought in a plethora of new staff members, including a new and separate marketing team. The Sharks will implement promotions throughout the season to inspire game attendance, team officials said.
 
Such promotions include a charity canned food drive every Tuesday where fans can bring in canned goods to donate in return for reduced ticket prices. There will also be military discounts on certain days.
 
“Wilmington is near and dear to me and my family,” Perry said.
 
Though from Topeka, Kansas, Perry used to come to Wilmington with his family and his youngest child was born here.
 
The Sharks are aiming to be the go-to activity for families and will increase their number of fireworks nights to four this summer, while also including more giveaways and on-field entertainment.
 
The Sharks expect to be competitive in the Coastal Plain League this year, according to coaching staff. The team itself also hopes to spark local interest with two players from University of North Carolina Wilmington with others hailing from nearby cities, as well.

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