Third time a charm

Chinooks play long-awaited home opener


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It’s good to be home.

For the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks, they’re just glad to have a home.

After playing the entire 2011 Alaska Baseball League season as visitors and starting this year with three road games, the Chinooks — formerly Athletes in Action Fire — played in front of a home crowd for the first time at Loretta French Park on Monday, June 18.

It was a welcome change for the team, manager Jon Groth said.

“It’s nice to have some people on our side,” he said.

The Anchorage Glacier Pilots’ 6-1 win didn’t tarnish the atmosphere of the home opener, said Chinooks booster club president Lee Jordan.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, but I’m thrilled with the attendance,” he said.

The park’s new bleachers, which hold about 250 people, were full and many more took in the action around the field’s chain link fence.

“Both fences were lined up with people in chairs,” Jordan said.

The Chinooks, too, were pleased with the turnout.

“We had a really nice crowd,” Groth said. “We hope they spread the word.”

Loretta French-Jardel herself, the park’s namesake, attended the historic home opener.

Jordan said plenty of new fans visited the Chinooks’ merchandise tent, purchased season tickets and several inquires were made about advertising on the outfield fence.

After having their home opener twice postponed due to rain, Groth said he was happy to finally christen the new yard.

“It certainly feels good to get that first one played,” he said. “I look forward to a lot more out here.”

Though the outcome wasn’t as hoped, Jordan had no complaints about the historic evening. The crowd was made up in large part of families taking in the game together, enjoying the national pastime under a warm summer sun while eating hot dogs and peanuts — something organizers had dreamed of since the idea of bringing the Chinooks to town was spawned last year.

“It was a beautiful night, and we got to show the home town some baseball,” he said. “Third time was a charm.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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