Heading for home
Chugiak’s Loretta French Park is still buried beneath a foot of snow, but that hasn’t put a blanket on the enthusiasm for the historic baseball season set to play out there this summer.
“There’s a lot of excitement about it,” said Lee Jordan, president of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Alaska Baseball League team booster club.
Since the ABL’s AIA Fire agreed to move to town and change their name last fall, Jordan has been busy working to create a buzz around the team, which will begin play on June 12. He said many people are still unaware that the high-profile collegiate summer league team is coming to town.
“A lot of people don’t even know about it yet,” he said.
One way the booster club is trying to drum up support is by hosting a preseason banquet this coming Saturday, April 28 at 7 p.m. at the Eagle River Lions Club. Jordan said the event will feature dinner designed to get fans thinking about a day at the ballpark.
“We’re going to have Crackerjacks for everybody, hamburgers, hot dogs and all that good stuff,” he said.
Tickets for the event are $25 each and can be purchased at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, by calling Jordan at 688-9068 or at the door.
Those tickets don’t just buy Crackerjacks. The event will also include both silent and outcry auctions for a variety of items that Jordan said include a signed Kelly Cup jersey from Anchorage Aces captain (and Eagle River’s own) Brian Swanson, an Aces hat and hockey stick signed by the ECHL team, a basketball signed by the 1987 UNLV Final Four basketball team, a condo rental in Mexico, a leather-bound set of Louis Lamour classics and more.
“They’re still coming in,” he said.
And for anyone wanting to start sporting the team colors, Jordan said the club will have merchandise with the new logo available at the event as well.
“We want to get as much of that out there as possible,” he said.
The booster club has been raising funds to help make the Ohio-based team’s time in Chugiak more comfortable. Jordan said he believes the club will reach its fundraising goal of $50,000 by opening day.
“I think we’ll get there,” he said.
One area that’s no longer a concern is player housing. Jordan said host families have already signed on to house the entire roster of players. Jordan said several families from local churches were among the first to volunteer to help out.
One big housing hurdle still remains.
“We have families for all the players, but we still need housing for the coaches,” he said.
Jordan said anyone who might be able to help the coaches and their families find summer homes should give him a call.
As for entertainment, Jordan said actor David Haynes has agreed to perform the classic Abbot and Costello routine “Who’s on First,” alongside a special (and surprise) performer.
Jordan said he’s thankful for the local community for its support of the new team so far.
“A lot of people are coming through to help us out,” he said.