File photo by Alec Ross, BlackburnNews.comFile photo by Alec Ross,

Majors To Pack The Park

There isn't expected to be an empty seat in Labatt Park this Father's Day when the London Majors host the Brantford Red Sox.

The Intercounty Baseball League team's annual Pack the Park game will be held on Sunday, with more than 5,000 free tickets already distributed to fans.

The initiative meant to increase the Majors' fan-base began eight years ago.

"Mike Riffel, who was the vice president of commercial leasing at Sifton Properties, came to games and couldn't understand why there wasn't more fans there, for such a good brand of baseball and a good venue," said Roop Chanderdat, general manager of the Majors. "So we sat down and came up with the idea of packing the park. One game where a corporate sponsor can get behind us and sell out the park. Now every year, the annual game is sold out with 5,000 plus fans there."

Sifton Properties has signed on as the corporate sponsor again this year, buying the tickets to give to any Londoner who wants to see the game.

"It brings different fans to the game. Some people have never been to Labatt Park, some people have never seen a baseball game," said Chanderdat. "We hope to get them through the door once and then they're hooked and come back to another game."

Retired MMA fighter and London native, Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. As well, five kids in the crowd will be tapped to participate in the London Majors Baseball Camp this summer.

Sunday's game will be the third of the weekend for the Majors, and Chanderdat promises the energy from both teams will be running high.

"In the standings right now it doesn't show that (the Red Sox) are good, but they are a really good team that's won six straight championships. It's always a tight game when we play Brantford," said Chanderdat. "When you get to play in front of 5,000 plus fans, you're pretty jacked-up to play so we know we are going to get their best starter, their best players that day."

The sold out game is scheduled to start at 1pm but anyone going is encouraged to get there early.

"The earlier you are there, the better so you can get parking, get a seat, and you can get set-up for the game with food from the concession," said Chanderdat. "There will be lots going on. It's a great atmosphere to be in. For anyone who has tickets, I can't say it enough - get there as early as you can."

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