Sky Sox earn national recognition

Colorado Springs Sky Sox set record attendance marks in four of the last five years -- one reason it was recognized this year by Baseball America.

The Colorado Springs Sky Sox have turned baseball into good business.

It’s a franchise that has invested more than $8 million into its facilities in the past five years. Its unique promotions – like “Bring Your Dog to the Game Day” – have pumped up attendance in four of the past five seasons. And it is one of a only a few Triple-A franchises that owns its own ballpark.

This week, the team will be recognized for its community involvement, long-term business success and consistent operational excellence, and will receive the 2011 Bob Freitas Award by Baseball America.

The industry publication established the award in 1989 to honor the best teams in the minor league. Tony Ensor, president and general manager of the team said the award was about more than just baseball and the Sky Sox.

“We see this not only as recognition for the hard work and dedication of our staff and players, but as an award for the entire community of Colorado Springs and the tremendous support they have given us over the years,” Ensor said.

Baseball’s winter meetings are also the time of the year when Sky Sox owner Dave Elmore, Ensor and the 20-member staff prepare for 2012 – not just the game schedule for its 25th season, but plans for improving their business game plan.

“We try to reinvent ourselves every year,” Ensor said. “We will talk with the owner about capital improvements.”

Since 2005, the Sky Sox franchise has made significant improvements in the facility including building a full service kitchen, installing an LED score board, adding a Major League-style ticket purchasing program and upgrading and rebranding the team with a new logo and color scheme. And, last year, the Sky Sox came on strong with a promotional program offering $2 Tuesdays, Kids Days, 50 cent hot dogs and Bark at the Park – a move that increased average attendance to nearly 5,000 fans. The franchise played 72 home games – that’s 288 hours of entertainment, Ensor said.

“The Colorado Springs Sky Sox are a great example of the long-term excellence that Bob Freitas cultivated,” said Lee Folger, President/Publisher of Baseball America. “The Sky Sox continue to thrive with growing attendance and expanded community outreach even in the face of tremendous weather obstacles and the challenging Pacific Coast League schedule logistics.”