Each time is like the first one for Andy Milovich.
Looking on as fans file into TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans general manager is often reminded of how Opening Day made him feel as a youth. And much like the renewed hope springing eternal for all each spring, Milovich hopes the club can play a role in helping dozens create lifelong memories “at the old ballgame.”
The Pelicans will pop the lid on their 2017 home slate Thursday night, playing host to the Lynchburg Hillcats. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
It is the first in a seven-game home stand.
While what transpires on the field remains the main attraction, Myrtle Beach values a quality stadium experience for fans as well. Here are a few things to expect:
What’s the deal with parking?
Parking is free to all fans attending games at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
While there is ample space for parking, the best spots may come at a premium this weekend due to schools being out from spring break.
“We’re expecting a real strong crowd,” Milovich said. “All we can do is suggest fans get to the stadium early to ensure their walk isn’t all that long.”
All general parking, including those with handicapped permits and those holding red season ticket holder passes, must use the Grisson Parkway entrance.
How much are tickets?
Box seats at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark range from $11 to $13.
Reserved box seating in the upper deck is between $9 and $11. Grand Strand Reserved seats — twin flanks in the upper deck portion of the venue — go for the same price.
As for the Budweiser Thirst Inning Deck, seats in left field with a great vantage point of the action, range up to $9 apiece.
Any changes in store this season?
When your stadium experience is ranked among the best in Minor League Baseball, one wouldn’t expect many changes to be in store ahead of Thursday’s season opener.
But if one is standing still, they are not making progress either.
In an effort to make the stadium as “kid-friendly” as possible, a kids play area chock full of slides, inflatables and others games was moved to the third-base side of the stadium.
Also located on the third base side of TicketReturn.com Stadium at Pelicans Ballpark is a bucket bar, offering fans a different view of the action while sipping on their favorite beverage.
What promotions can fans expect opening weekend?
Each Thursday will be a ‘thirsty’ one at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. “Thirsty Thursdays” will offer fans a bevy of drink specials to choose from between 6-8 p.m.
On Friday, the Pelicans allow fans to get in on their 2016 Mills Cup title celebration, giving the first 1,000 fans a Carolina League championship banner.
The following night, the club will pay homage to the county’s bravest athletes, designating Saturday as Horry County Special Olympics night at the ballpark. Players will wear game jerseys designed by North Myrtle Beach Middle School student Cameron Locklear, who won the Pelicans’ jersey design contest.
Following the game, each player’s jersey will be auctioned off to fans, proceeds benefiting the Horry County Special Olympics.
Easter Sunday will offer its own share of treats.
A pre game candy drop will send children attending the game into a frenzy, along with a visit from the Easter Bunny. Moments later, Pelicans coaches, trainers and executives will be given championship rings for their contribution to the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series title.
“It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream,” Milovich said. “Even if I feel like I didn’t contribute all that much to it.”
About action on the field…
Though on the right side of .500, Myrtle Beach returns home following losses in two of their last three games.
With an opportunity to claim a series win, pitcher Akeem Bostick shut down the Pelicans, going six innings without yielding a run in a 5-1 Buies Creek win.
On deck for Myrtle Beach is another series with the Lynchburg Hillcats, who it beat three out of four games a week ago. Only one of those contests was decided by more than two runs.
The Pelicans will send lefty Justin Steele to the bump against Lynchburg right-hander Triston McKenzie to open the series.
On Friday, locals will get their first look at starting pitcher Oscar De La Cruz, currently ranked No. 5 among all prospects in the Cubs farm system. Casey Bloomquist will get the call on Saturday for the Pelicans, with Sunday’s starter yet to be determined.
First pitch for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night’s games is 7:05 p.m. As for Sunday, action will get underway at 6:05 p.m.