A.C. Surf

30 07 2008

The Rising Of A Phoenix
by John Leon

Just about a year ago, I wrote a scalding letter about how the Atlantic City Surf was being run into the ground by a new ownership. The owner has let the front office, led by former manager Chris Carmanucci, resurrect this proud franchise, and renewed hopes that baseball will indeed be around in the near future. The property that Bernie Robbins Stadium is situated, has been rumored to be sold soon at the price of at least 800 million dollars at last writing, to a future casino developer. If the CRDA does nothing else with that found revenue, a new stadium should be built, possibly the Hamilton Mall area in my opinion.

He has done a masterful job that I thought that was never going to happen. The job that he’s done is nothing short of a miracle, and with staff that is excited to be there, the fans have returned and have been very pleased with the way that things are done. There are still some cobwebs to be cleaned, but overall, this franchise and the affordable family entertainment that it provides, is still a very viable alternative in the face of rising costs of gas and entertainment.

Carmanucci is seen just about everywhere and looks as relaxed as someone can be when it seems to be chaotic all around him. A recent fireworks night, a big draw anytime, drew a legitimate count of over 5,000 fans, and last year that figure would have been “announced”. Even during the traditionally slow attendance nights of Monday through Thursday, the crowds have been better than expected.

The play on the field in the Can-Am League was never in question and the players play hard and that has not changed at all. Once again, they have put themselves in a position to qualify for the playoffs. That has happened just about every year over the past six or seven years, no matter what league they have been a part of.

The Atlantic City Surf has come from behind, as I have seen many times during my tenure as an employee. Carmanucci readily admitted that mistakes were made in the past that hurt the team publicity wise, and by being able to put out many of the fires that were created, he has slowly but surely gained the trust of the fans and marketing partners again.

Small, locally owned businesses, have come on board. Instead of looking for the big-ticket sponsorships, Carmanucci has gone the grass roots way of securing valuable marketing dollars. This has been a very smart way to keep the locals interested in the product and drawn fans to the ballpark. Community nights are still a big draw and interest and excitement are back in the stadium.

This letter should be a way for everyone that believes in second chances, that they do happen and let me be the first to offer congratulations for making this phoenix rise again.


John Leon was the former radio play-by-play voice for the Surf in 2006 and Public Address Announcer in 2005.




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