South Bend Cubs look to draw Notre Dame students to games
Tom Naatz | Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Last year, Michiana’s baseball team changed affiliation and became the South Bend Cubs, a Single-A affiliate of Chicago’s National League team of the same name. The Cubs try to offer students an opportunity for a fun outing off campus in the general South Bend community.
The Cubs play 70 home games between April and Labor Day at Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium in downtown South Bend. The team is deeply involved in local charities, including the Children’s Hospital, team president Joe Hart said.
“We really service a community of 75 miles, not just South Bend,” Hart said.
Hart said the atmosphere of the game can appeal to anyone.
“You don’t have to be a baseball fan to come out and enjoy yourself,” Hart said. “There aren’t a ton of things to do in the South Bend area, and we’re just three miles from campus.”
Hart said the relationship between the Cubs and the University is growing, despite the fact that the vast majority of the Cubs’ games are while the University is out of session.
“During the summer, Notre Dame brings out different departments — employees, clients, et cetera, and in April, August and September we get a pretty good student following,” he said.
Examples of this relationship included a residence hall outing to the ballpark for a tour on the Day of Community preceding the first day of classes. Later, on Aug. 25, the Senior Class Council sponsored a trip for 300 members of the class of 2017 to see a game.
The team has had several interns and employees who were also students at Notre Dame. In the past, the Cubs have played a preseason exhibition game against the University’s baseball team. Half of the proceeds went to the Cubs’ charity and the other half went to the Fighting Irish’s charity of choice.
To encourage attendance, the Cubs offer a range of promotions not specifically targeted toward students, including Saturday nights, when the team gives away a free 50-inch TV every inning.
“It’s one of the only places where you can pay a few bucks for a ticket and walk out with a brand new, 50-inch TV,” Hart said.
The team’s most popular night is Thursdays, when all beverages in the ballpark cost $2 for the entire game.
Cubs games are “always fun,” senior Daniel Burns said.
“The tickets are only $10, and they have great outfield grass seats where you can just sit and relax,” Burns said. “I don’t follow the team during the year, I just go to have fun. I recently bought a Cubs jersey. Best purchase in four years at Notre Dame.”
Because of students like Burns, Hart said attendance does generally increase while school is in session, particularly on Thursday nights.
“We always feel like the biggest issue is letting Notre Dame students know we’re here,” he said.