BATAVIA — The Batavia Muckdogs, the areas’s Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) team, have some project’s they’d like to accomplish next at Dwyer Stadium.
“These are a few things we’ve talked about that we’d like to do. We have been in a little bit of talks about it,” CAN-USA Sports and Muckdogs owner Robbie Nichols said during Monday night’s City Council meeting. “One is, we’ve had a lot of season ticket holders looking for a party deck that was there for many years before we took over and they would like to see that come back.”
Nichols said the most important improvement to him would be safety netting.
“I think safety netting is the most important for our fans. We never like to see somebody get hit with a foul ball when they’re coming out with their family to watch a game,” he said. “Plus, I’m in the snack bar every night working, and balls come into the snack bar …”
Nichols said he hopes to talk to the city.
“At this time, we would like … to talk about extending our lease when we can,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to believe, but we only have three years left. Two years have gone by already. We want to make some more major changes and put some more investment capital money into the ballpark, but we want to make sure that you’re happy with us and would want to see us here for another 25 years or whatever you would like to see us here for.”
Nichols said there’s a seating project to be finished.
“It started and it looks great, but it stopped, I think, because of COVID. We didn’t finish two sections,” he said.
After the presentation, Nichols told city leaders that CAN-USA is open to suggestions if there’s anything that can be done to improve the stadium or different things for which it can be used.
Nichols and General Manager Marc Witt presented a recap on the 2022 season as well. They said Dwyer Stadium hosted over 40 high school baseball games from April through June. There was Challenger Division Baseball in June. Over 50,000 people attended Muckdogs games there from June through August. The Battle of the Badges was in July. KMS Dance Academy clinics were in August. Collegiate baseball tournaments were in September and October. Two concerts, Margaritaville and the Zac Brown Tribute Band came in August and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in this month. The most recent event was trick-or-treating last Saturday. This year was the second year for that event.
“Our first year, we had 500 trick-or-treaters and about 2,000 families. This year, we had 2,100 trick-or-treaters and 5,000 families,” Witt said. “It was a zoo. That was our last event of the season.”
There were 84,000 visitors to the stadium in 2022, 13% more than the previous year.
“There’s 169 baseball teams of this caliber in America. We ranked 22nd in the United States in attendance, about 1,800 a night. It’s a 2,600-capacity. Dwyer hosted about 120 events from April to October.
The Muckdogs were the PGCBL Western Division champions, losing in the championship game. Nolan Sparks of the Muckdogs was the PGCBL Pitcher of the Year. Four players made the All-Star Team in 2022: Tyler Cannoe, Trey Bacon, Josh Leadom and Sparks. The Muckdogs won the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneurial Business of the Year this year.
“He gave up zero runs during his entire season and won his playoff game,” Nichols said of Sparks.
There were 504 season ticket holders, about 20% of stadium capacity. Twenty-five local school groups, dance and karate groups performed. There were 10 local color/honor guards. There were 17 local 50-50 fundraisers. There were 35 first pitches thrown at Dwyer by students community leaders or business leaders.
“We even had, for our Elba Night, the Onion Queen threw an onion out as the first pitch,” Witt said.
CAN-USA Sports projects completed at Dwyer included: painting the home locker room, adding 30,000 tons of baseball mix, spraying and fertilizing the grass, powerwashing the outside of the stadium, powerwashing the seats, painting both dugouts, adding a bullpen to the visiting team area, landscaping the stadium, new snack bar cooking appliances, adding 40 new tables and 150 new chairs, painting Main Office, and painting the snack bar.
Compared to the 80 to 100 season ticket holders under previous ownership in 2019, CAN-USA has had over season ticket holders from 2021 to no. Nightly attendance has roughly doubled, from about 900 in 2019 to about 1,800 this year.
Councilmember-At-Large Bob Bialkowski thanked Nichols for what the Muckdogs have done in the community.
“It’s something I always believe in. These venues belong in the private sector,” Bialkowski said. “The private sector gets the job done.”
Nichols said it’s really the community.
“The community cares about Dwyer Stadium. It’s all those big businesses and small businesses that help us make it possible,” he said.
Councilmember John Canale said Nichols made the city a lot of promises when he originally came in and he’s done more than he promised.
“It’s very exciting to go down to the field and watch a game now,” Canale said. “I speak for myself, I speak for my constituents. We’re very grateful for what you’ve done.”
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