While the Cubs and the White Sox are having their own struggles putting wins on the board this season, fans can still catch winning baseball when they visit the Schaumburg Boomers.
With just 21 games left in the season and five more home series to play, the Boomers (45-30) will be battling for first place in the West Division when they take on the Rockford Aviators and the Traverse City Beach Bums this week in Schaumburg. As an independent club, the Boomers organization and the rest of the Frontier League clubs focus on building a winning product along with making it a welcoming and fun experience at the stadium.
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"Our mission from the second you park your car to the second you leave for home is to have you smiling and laughing," general manager Andy Viano said.
Viano takes pride in the stadium's range of offerings. He says a family can come enjoy a game for less money than taking the kids to the movies, and a local business can invite 100 employees for a great outing.
Whether you plan on the most affordable night possible, or prefer to go all out with a catered party, the Boomers have an option available. Here's what you need to know before you go:
The Boomers offer a variety of ticket packages, and most of them are not expensive. Single-game tickets are $10, lawn seats are $7, and parking is always free. For an extra $3, the kids can jump on the bounce castle beyond left field.
The best value is the Family Sunday Pack. For $29, fans get four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas if purchased ahead of game time.
If you can't make it on a Sunday, don't worry, there are great promotions during the week as well. The team recently hosted its second annual "World's Largest Squirt Gun Fight." It is exactly how it sounds, and no, you will not be safe from getting wet. The team provided free squirt guns, but if you want, you can bring along that five-gallon Super Soaker deluxe cannon you stored in your basement since childhood. There are only a few "safe zones" in the stadium, but from the time the doors open until the grand finale fight on the field after the game, each seat and area is a water battlefield.
And since the squirt gun promotion proved to be so popular, they added the "World's Largest Marshmallow Fight" too. It is the same idea, but substitutes fist-sized marshmallows.
"We make sure every employee is smiling and enjoying what they do," Viano said. "Honestly, if you had a giant squirt gun fight and all the employees looked like they didn't want to be there, you wouldn't have much fun."
The club experience:
Sometimes you have to choose between spending a beautiful night out at a ballpark or going with friends to the local bar for some beer specials.
For $29 per person, Boomers fans can spend a Friday or Saturday at their Schaumburg Club. The club is normally a reservation-only suite for large group outings, but on the weekends it opens to the public. Fans who purchase the Loaded Ticket can enter the Schaumburg Club about 30 minutes before the game starts, and they'll have 90 minutes to enjoy a buffet of grilled chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, coleslaw, potato salad, watermelon, cookies, soda and water.
After the buffet closes, the game continues and Loaded Ticket purchasers can slip into their normal stadium seat. The club remains open all night with a full bar and $2 MGD and Miller Lite drafts.
The VIP treatment:
Fans also can book a luxury suite at the stadium. These suites are booked in advance for parties of about 25, but the team is flexible. A personal team representative will help fans set up their night in the suites.
The luxury suites have many different catering options. The team recommends a Friday night game so you can catch their postgame fireworks show and be there for the "all-out Boomers experience."
Bring your appetite:
There are a lot of options, but Boomers' public relations director Ed McCaskey recommends the Schaumburger. It has everything a normal burger has, plus bacon and the Boomers' special beer cheese sauce (your kids can eat it too). Viano and McCaskey would not divulge the secret recipe behind the beer cheese sauce, but it is worth the extra price.
The Boomers also offer a family-size bratwurst meal that some brave fans can try to finish themselves for a prize. The 2-foot-long and 4-pound, "Brat-a-Boom" bratwurst is a pound and a half of meat on a two-foot pretzel bun, topped with beer cheese, sauerkraut, bacon and deep-fried onion strings.
If you think you can handle it on your own, the Boomers' have a Brat-a-Boom contest and prize for anyone who finishes it in one sitting. So far, only two people have finished the giant brat, and one of them was competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi on opening night of last season. A former world record holder for hot dog consumption, he finished the challenge in just under two minutes.
For fans over 21, the "Thursty Thursdays" night offers $2 beer at select locations around the park.
And for tickets and more information, fans should visit boomersbaseball.com.