Chinooks flying into town
There’s a new wind blowin’ through the Alaska Baseball League.
The name and logo for the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks — formerly known as the AIA Fire — were unveiled at a meeting of the team’s new booster club Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.
“I think we’re going to go places,” said Lee Jordan, who was elected booster club president at the meeting. “Go Chinooks!”
Formerly based in Fairbanks, the Athletes in Action team made the decision to move to Loretta French Park in Peters Creek last summer. At the time, team officials said having the team closer to the four other Southcentral-based ABL squads (two in Anchorage, one in Palmer and one in Kenai) made more sense from a travel cost perspective.
During Thursday’s meeting, Jordan — with the help of Bear Paw princess Maggie Wallace — unveiled the new logo, a tough-looking king salmon getting ready to toss a baseball.
Jordan said the Chinook name was chosen for several reasons, including the notorious wintertime Chinook winds that blow through the area, the well-known Chinook helicopters used by the U.S. military and — of course — the state’s largest and most sought-after salmon.
In addition to electing Jordan as club president, the enthusiastic group of boosters who turned out for Thursday’s meeting also elected Rep. Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su) as vice president, Darrell Breese as secretary and Ted Carlson as treasurer. Although the Ohio-based Athletes in Action organization will foot the bill for some costs (such as travel to Alaska and paying coaches) Jordan said the club will need to raise about $50,000 to take care of things like uniforms, travel and equipment. The booster club will also be responsible for securing host families for the players, promoting the team and selling any concessions.
“It’s all volunteer,” Jordan said.
Since the club is finances primarily from Outside, Jordan said the booster club’s primary responsibility will be to make sure the little things are taken care of.
“The booster club is intended only to help them raise money to make their expenses,” he said.
Athetes in Action played an exhibition game at Loretta French Park in July, a game that proved to the team that games could be held at the Peters Creek facility.
Since then, the Municipal Parks and Recreation department has improved the park by paving around the field to control dust. Other improvements are planned, including a widening of the outfield warning track and other minor tweaks needed to host ABL games on a regular basis.
During the meeting, Lions Club president Finis Sheldon inquired where the fan base would come from. Jordan said that he expects locals will turn out, as well as existing Mat-Su Miners and Anchorage Bucs and Glacier Pilots fans. He’s also hoping the squad can attract soldiers from nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and said the Chinooks name was an intentional tip of the hat to the area’s military presence.
“We hope to draw from the base, that’s one of the big things we’re working hard on,” he said.
Jordan said he’s expecting games to have a family-friendly atmosphere. No admission will be charged and there won’t be any alcohol sales.
Assembly member Debbie Ossiander, who attended the meeting, said she’s not really a baseball fan. But she said she’s likely to attend games simply because of the community aspect of having a team in the local area.
“I’ll come to this one because it’s in Chugiak-Eagle River,” she said.
Jordan said a big draw will be the caliber of play. Alaska Baseball League teams are mainly made up of college players from Outside, meaning fans will have a shot to see potential future Major Leaguers in the field.
“It’s a launching pad for higher levels of baseball,” he said.
The booster club still needs more members to help with all aspects of supporting the team, and Jordan said more meetings will be held in the future. He said the best way to make the team a success is for the community to get behind their new squad.
“I’m very competitive. I want to win,” Jordan said. “The best way to do that is to have the players be as happy as they possibly can.”
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected]