By: Jay Kidwell
Quad Cities River Bandits fans last season set the highest attendance for the franchise in 17 years, and the club is rewarding its record-setting fans with the most packed promotional schedule in team history. The River Bandits announced Monday afternoon at Modern Woodmen Park that they will have the most fireworks shows, family entertainment, theme nights, brand-new promotions and giveaways in club history, in what will be a spectacular 2013 season.
"Each year, we seek to create more unique memories and greater entertainment value for our fans, and we are eager to celebrate their strong support with this phenomenal schedule of giveaways, promotions, appearances and entertainment," said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. "From fireworks every Friday, giveaways every Saturday and free flat screen TVs every Sunday, Quad Cities fans will take in a new show every night at Modern Woodmen Park, and enjoy amazing, affordable, and ridiculously funny family-friendly fun all season long."
Running start: Even before the home opener, the promotional lineup begins with the first-ever Bandits Race to Home 5K presented by Palmer Chiropractic Clinics on Saturday, April 6. The race begins at 8 a.m. near Modern Woodmen Park, crosses the Mississippi River into Illinois and back into Iowa, and finishes inside the ballpark near home plate. The registration deadline is Wednesday, April 3, but early registration ends on Tuesday, March 19. Top finishers in the race are also candidates to be the one runner who will "Race the Game" at the Opening Weekend Festival (Saturday, April 13), for a chance to win a prize for every fan in the ballpark.
Gala Opening Weekend: The Quad-City Times Opening Night Celebration on Thursday, April 11, will kick off Affiliate Welcome Weekend, as the new Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros hosts the Peoria Chiefs, the affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The River Bandits will welcome back their fans with giveaways all weekend. Mediacom presents a pennant giveaway Thursday, April 11. Then, as the Bandits hand out free refrigerator magnets, American will give one lucky fan a brand-new, free refrigerator on Friday, April 12. On Saturday, April 13, one fan will win a brand-new Wii U courtesy of Video Games ETC! in the annual Nintendo Wii-ster Egg Hunt. Finally, at the 2 p.m. game Sunday, April 14, the River Bandits will kick off their biggest new weekly promotion: Flat Screen Family Sundays presented by B100. At every Sunday home game, the River Bandits will give away free flat-screen TVs to lucky fans.
Frequent Fireworks: Opening Weekend will also launch the biggest-ever schedule of fireworks for the River Bandits, as the team hosts the first of 16 different fireworks nights – the most in Quad Cities history! On Friday, April 12, Eastern Iowa Toyota Dealers and WQAD-TV will present the first of 11 Friday Fireworks to follow every Friday home game. Fireworks also conclude AUSA Military Appreciation Night (Saturday, May 11), Thrivent Night (Tuesday, June 11), and the final Saturday home game (Aug. 31). The Bandits also will be kicking off the 4th of July celebration early with the Quad Cities' first 2013 holiday fireworks show (Tuesday, July 2) followed by the traditional Red, White and Boom Fireworks on Wednesday, July 3.
New Giveaways & More Giveaways Than Ever: River Bandits fans will have more giveaways to collect in 2013. New highlights include the Scarf Giveaway presented by Peoria Charter Coach (Saturday, April 27), the Garden Mat Giveaway presented by Total Turf & Landscape on Home and Garden Night (Friday, May 10), the Pillow Case Giveaway presented by Clarion Hotel (Saturday, May 18), the reusable Rally Tote Giveaway presented by Trinity Regional Health System (Thursday, May 30), and the Bier Stube Beanie Giveaway (Friday, Aug. 23). Fans can also win fabulous giveaway prizes with Chicago Blackhawks Night and Ticket Giveaway (Wednesday, April 17), two Mega Cubs Fantacular Giveaways (Wednesday, May 29, and Thursday, June 20), the Mega Cardinals Fantacular Giveaway (Wednesday, July 31), and a Mega Astros Fantacular Giveaway (Tuesday, Aug. 20). Giveaways will also fill Fan Appreciation Saturdays, as each Saturday home game will feature some of the best of all promotions – $2 drink specials in April and May, special fireworks shows May 11 and Aug. 31, entertainment such as the "Ghost Rider" Cowboy Monkeys (June 15), and many of the always-popular bobbleheads.
Bigger Than Ever Prizes!: Bandits fans will have an opportunity to win some amazing new prizes this season worth some serious money! The first mega-prize giveaway is Wednesday, May 22, as the team unveils the McGivern's Mega-Jewelry Giveaway, with stunning new jewelry from the Quad Cities' finest jeweler being awarded to fans all night long! In addition, the Bandits will give away a free trip to sunny Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 8, to one lucky couple. And, of course, each and every Sunday will be Flat Screen Family Sunday, as the team gives away multiple flat screen TVs throughout the game.
More Bobbleheads Than Ever: Bandits fans love bobbleheads, and this year they will not be disappointed. Among the 2013 bobblehead giveaways, the River Bandits will honor four members of the recently fan-selected All-Time Quad Cities Baseball Team – two of whom played during the franchise's previous affiliation with Houston from 1993 to 1998. Leading off on Saturday, June 22, APAC Customer Services and FOX-18 will present bobbleheads of two-time American League Cy Young Award winner and 1998 River Bandit Johan Santana. A bobblehead featuring seven-time major league All-Star and 1994 River Bandits pitcher Billy Wagner is on tap for Saturday, July 13, courtesy of EmbroidMe and the Quad-City Times. Minnesota Twins superstar catcher Joe Mauer, a 2002 River Bandit and the last No. 1 overall pick to play for the Quad Cities franchise, will be the bobblehead given away Sunday, Aug. 11, presented by Prairie Farms and FOX-18. Mauer's Twins teammate, Justin Morneau, also has a bobblehead, as Mediacom and the Dispatch-Argus celebrate the 2001 River Bandit with a giveaway Saturday, Aug. 17.
But that's just the beginning. The bobbleheads continue, as the River Bandits welcome former St. Louis Cardinal Vince Coleman to the 2013 coaching staff and bobblehead roster. Coleman, the 1985 National League Rookie of the Year and six-time league stolen base leader, will be an outfield and baserunning coach this season. Bobbleheads with his likeness will be given away Saturday, Aug. 10, courtesy of DHCU and CBS4. Rounding out the bobblehead roster is that of former Iowa Hawkeye and current NFL tight end Dallas Clark, whose bobblehead giveaway is presented by Barrel House 211 and CBS4 on Saturday, Aug. 31. Finally, a gnome re-enters the lineup, as the River Bandits and Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center will give away the likeness of team mascot Rascal the River Bandit on Saturday, June 29.
Entertainment and Celebrity Appearances: The show at Modern Woodmen Park will also expand this season with appearances by a range of entertainment acts and celebrities. Those Funny Little People – as seen on America's Got Talent – highlight Halloween in May (Sunday, May 19). The Red Trouser Show appears on Modern Woodmen Night (Thursday, June 13). Quick Change presented by the Quad-City Times will perform on Friday, June 14. Cowboy Monkeys will put on a rodeo on John Deere Night (Saturday, June 15). Also making appearances will be pro wrestler Mick Foley for Pro Wrestling Night (Thursday, July 11), Storybook Princesses for Pirates and Princesses Night (Sunday, Aug. 18), Arthur and D.W. for Wicked Awesome Fan Appreciation Night (Sunday, Sept. 1), and Chicago Bears Super Bowl Champion linebacker Otis Wilson presented by the Quad-City Times on Virdi Eye Clinic Night (Thursday, Aug. 22).
Back for more: Last season, the River Bandits were the first U.S. professional sports team to hold a photo jersey auction to benefit local cancer organizations. This year the Autism Awareness Photo Jersey Auction presented by Quad Cities Autism Center will take place Friday, Aug. 9. Fans can again purchase small squares in the River Bandits players' jersey numbers to feature a photograph of themselves, a family member or friend. The jerseys will be worn during the game on Autism Awareness Night, so fans may choose to purchase a square in honor of a loved one affected by autism. After the game, the jerseys will be auctioned off, with all the proceeds benefitting the Quad Cities Autism Center. A limited number of squares are available for purchase at $25 each, with all of the money raised going to the Quad Cities Autism Center. More information is available by calling (563) 324-3000.
Other Returning Favorites: Two award-winning promotions, the Mega Candy Drop (Sunday, June 30) and Tattoo Night presented by The Scorpion's Den (Thursday, Aug. 8), are each back for 2013. Also returning is Disco Night presented by KFC – with ‘70s prices on food and beer (Thursday, May 23), along with the third annual Camo Jersey Auction presented by the Iowa Army National Guard (Friday, May 24), the fourth annual Reynolds Ford Used Car Giveaway (Thursday, Aug. 1), the Mega Bicycle Giveaway (Wednesday, Aug. 7), two Hy-Vee Tote Bag Giveaways (Sunday, June 30, and Sunday, July 14) and two Modern Woodmen half-price ticket nights with free cap giveaways (Tuesday, July 30, and Wednesday, Aug. 21). The Mother's Day Celebration (Sunday, May 12) again includes a Mother's Day Brunch, with lots of giveaways also planned. Father's Day (Sunday, June 16) will feature postgame catch in the outfield, as well as the annual presentations of both the Keith Lucier Memorial Scholarship and the Bandit Scholarship. Each pays the entire first year of college tuition for a Quad Cities-area student.
Unique themes: The River Bandits have added several new theme nights, including Guaranteed Win Night (Wednesday, May 8), when the River Bandits will defeat the Cedar Rapids Kernels, or every fan will win a ticket to a future game. Also new are the Manti Te'o Night on Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft (Thursday, April 25), Go Green Night on Arbor Day (Friday, April 26), the Nueve de Mayo Party (Thursday, May 9), Star Trek 2 Night on the opening day of Star Trek Into Darkness (Friday, May 17) and Petrolpalooza Night (Monday, July 1) – when the price of berm and bleacher tickets will respectively match the price of unleaded and premium unleaded gasoline.
Filling the Week: In addition to Friday Fireworks, Fan Appreciation Saturdays, and all-new Flat Screen Family Sundays, the weekly promotions have returning themes with new flavors. Munchie Mondays, presented by 97X, will give fans one affordable price for all-you-can-eat hot dogs, nachos, peanuts and popcorn for every Monday home game – except April 29, May 13 and May 20, when the River Bandits will host the 2013 Book Buddies graduates at special 11 a.m. start times. Mondays will have added value beginning July 1, when the River Bandits will start offering a "Funtown Gone Crazy!" special: an all-you-can-ride pass for the new amusement rides – including a Ferris wheel, zip lines and carousel – for just $10 at every Monday home game. Dew for Twosdays mean kids eat free, all tickets are buy-one-get-one free (except July 30), and fans can again bring an old can or bottle of Mountain Dew to Modern Woodmen Park and exchange it for a free 16-ounce soda voucher at any Tuesday home game. The River Bandits will again Pay Your Bills, presented by U.S. Bank and Mix 96, at every Wednesday home game, when fans can bring their bills to the ballpark, and two bills selected in a drawing will be paid up to $100 by the River Bandits. Thirst-Day Thursdays presented by Rock 104-9, the CW and the River Cities' Reader will again give fans $2 drink specials at every Thursday home game. Sundays will also bring back post-game Kids Run the Bases and Bark in the Park, when fans can bring their dogs to sit on the berm and enjoy the fun of Modern Woodmen Park.
"We are truly excited to give fans in the Quad Cities community so many of the great promotions that have made River Bandits games memorable in recent years, and we can't wait to share the new giveaways, themes and entertainment that will come to the ballpark this season," said River Bandits General Manager Harold Craw. "Fans can expect great hospitality and memorable experiences for the whole family every night they come to Modern Woodmen Park."
UP NEXT: Now is the time to lock in your season ticket plan for the 2013 season! Call 563-324-3000 or visit www.riverbandits.com <http://www.riverbandits.com> to download the season ticket order form. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $50. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: The River Bandits will be making one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 112 feet over the playing field, will open in early June, along with two new zip lines, a carousel, new bounce houses and many other fun attractions. The team also boasts a new major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, and fans will have a chance to see last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, Carlos Correa. The Astros will also make the very first selection in the major league draft this June and could have another top pick end up in the Quad Cities. With new rides, new attractions, new improvements, a new affiliate and future major league stars, this season will be one every fan will not want to miss!