By Athena Dawson
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School
and Kerri Kolensky
East Islip High School
The Long Island Ducks have had the highest attendance rate in Minor League Baseball’s Atlantic League for 14 of the past 17 seasons.
Fans’ loyalty, partnered with the Ducks’ location, affordability, comfortable atmosphere and charity work seems to be the key to keeping this streak alive.
“They are currently leading the Atlantic League in attendance as we enter play today,” said Michael Polak, director of Media Relations and Broadcasting for the Ducks.
Fans said they appreciate the central location of the team’s home stadium, Bethpage Ballpark, in Central Islip. “It’s a really quick, easy place to watch a ballgame when you don’t have time to watch the Yankees or Mets,” said Raymond Navaro, who attended the game with several of his family members.
Besides the location, fans said they also appreciate the Duck’s affordable ticket pricing.
“A lot of people love the sport, and it’s local, affordable, so it’s nice to come out,” Lauren Acevedo said.
Seating prices range from $12 to $15, whereas at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, tickets can range from anywhere between $22 to $610.
Citi Field also charges $25 for parking during the regular season as opposed to Bethpage Ballpark, which provides free parking.
“It’s a neighborhood ballfield, it’s very pleasant, very comfortable here, and very affordable,” said fan Kenneth Hawkins.
Many people flock to the stadium for the family-friendly atmosphere with the various activities provided for fans, such as inflatable slides, bounce houses and games of musical chairs in between innings.
“We provide a very family-friendly form of entertainment with exciting baseball on the field to various promotions,” Polak said.
This can be seen throughout the stadium, with children sporting yellow quakers in their mouths and ice cream cones in their hands while music plays throughout the stadium.
The feel-good spirit at the ballpark extends to the Ducks’ community service outreach.
The team visits patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital twice per year, Polak said, once during the December holidays and once for Valentine’s Day.
Even new fans said they appreciate all the Ducks have to offer.
Emmet Hawkins, who recently moved to Suffolk County, has only been attending Ducks games for two weeks, but is already hooked.
“I’ve really fallen in love with Suffolk County, and the Ducks are a part of that,” Hawkins said.