Diamonds and Ice

Despite economy, Kernels doing OK

Despite the worst economy this country has seen in decades and the fact that Cedar Rapids is still in recovery mode from last summer’s devastating floods, Cedar Rapids Kernels General Manager Jack Roeder said Tuesday his Midwest League baseball club is in good shape from a financial standpoint.

“We’re really doing very well, all things considered,” Roeder said. “We’ve spent time with the other teams in the Midwest League. We had a Midwest League spring meeting, and there’s a lot of clubs who are struggling in some areas. We can’t say that we’re struggling in any areas.”

Roeder said he breaks things down into three categories: season-ticket sales, advertising sales and group sales. The Kernels have sold roughly 350 season tickets for the 2009 season, which begins next week, including a new 10-game ticket voucher package. That’s on par with previous seasons.

Advertising also is doing well. The only area where the club is experiencing some downturn is in group sales, though Roeder said he is confident that will pick up as the season starts.

“When all is said and done, we’re ahead of last year’s season-ticket sales and at or close to our advertising goal,” Roeder said. “The one area where maybe we’re down in in groups.

“I have to give our staff a lot of credit for going out in the community over the winter months. They’ve done a very good job. I feel if you are a reasonably priced and provide good entertainment value, people are going to support you. I think we are reasonably priced and that we’ve got a good product to sell. That is an advantage during these tough times.”

There has been some bad timing, though, in that the Kernels are raising ticket prices by a dollar this season. Individual game tickets range from $7 to $10. It’s the second time since the newer Memorial Stadium opened eight years ago, that ticket prices have risen.

Roeder said the increased prices do not affect group tickets.

“We have a lot of loyal fans and supporters out there,” Roeder said. “We raised the prices last fall, before the downturn in the economy. We’ve raised just walk-up tickets, not group. I still think it’s a great value.”

Among the Kernels’ more interesting promotions this summer is an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders June 18, Zach Johnson bobblehead day June 21 and an appearance by San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding only July 5.

Roeder said Kaeding also will sign autographs. He is scheduled to kick 20 footballs into the stands for fans, and will have a baseball card of himself passed out.

“Again, we just feel very fortunate that we are doing OK during these tough economic times,” Roeder said.

The season opens April 9 at home against Beloit. The team is scheduled to arrive in Cedar Rapids late Monday afternoon.

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

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