MOOSIC — A new ball park with an old name and an old team with a new name.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees, is back playing at the same location but in a brand new PNC Field that team officials say is more fan-friendly in its design, operations and attitude.
Rob Crain, the 31-year-old president of the franchise, said the approach this year is unlike any other — the three-tiered mission is “affordable, family and fun.”
The Yankees opened the 2013 season at home on April 4 and Craig said he and his staff have worked diligently to create a fan friendly atmosphere.
“We’re looking to be more of an entertainment destination,” Craig said. “We want PNC Field to be a gathering spot. We want to share with the community. I think people will be surprised to see what we’re doing here.”
Craig said the team’s brand new promotional calendar will over fans something different every day of the week. He wants fans to look at the season as 72 events.
And if you can’t make it to the ballpark, the RailRiders will have 20 home games televised on WQMY My Network TV.
The new stadium will feature a huge high definition video message board in center field, several areas for kids and bar areas for adults. Drink rails are found all along the concourse walkway. There’s even a couple that overlook the bullpens.
“They’re perfect for heckling opposing players,” Crain said.
In addition to the usual nightly promotions, Crain said special events are planned. On opening night the theme was “Movie Premiere Night” with staff dressed in tuxedos and spotlights and a red carpet at the entrance. On the last showing of NBC-TV’s “The Office,” Crain said a celebration will be held in honor of the long-running show set in Scranton.
Crain’s infectious personality is embraced by employees. He said he made that message clear at the pre-season orientation.
Parking attendants will wear shirts with “Director of First Impressions” on the back. In the stadium, ushers and others will have shirts with “How may I help you?” printed on them.
“It’s very important for me to communicate our friendly attitude to all employees to assure all fans have an enjoyable time at the park,” Craig said.
The midnight blue seats are larger than before and all the seats in the club area are padded. Club-level suites can be rented per game and single and double units will be available.
The new stadium has plenty of character — from the stone outfield walls to the mountainside backdrop to the rich green turf of the playing field.
Crain said there are about 30 full-time employees in the front office and the team will employ about 250 when the season starts. Legends — the stadium food and beverage vendor — has some 600 more working in part-time positions during the season.
“This is a great place for family entertainment,” Crain said. “This is where families and baseball fans go for a good time.”