The fourth season of action for the Rocket City Trash Pandas is underway this week with the season home opener scheduled for Tuesday, April 9. Photo Contributed

Play Ball ! Trash Pandas Season Set To Open

MADISON- Play Ball!

The famous call to start the season is happening this week as the Rocket City Trash Pandas open their 2024 season on the road in Knoxville versus the Tennessee Smokies in a three-game series before making their home debut on Tuesday, April 9 at Toyota Field as Booz Allen Hamilton will assist with fireworks and magnet team schedule giveaway. Indeed, the opening night is always special, but the Trash Pandas have an exciting season ahead just waiting for the Tennessee Valley to enjoy.

For 2024, the team has scheduled 27 postgame fireworks shows, 17 gate giveaways, nine themed ticket packages, nine Dog Days (plus one Cat Night), six specialty jersey auctions, five collection drives and four special appearances.

The fun will include special theme ticket packages with each one including a reserved box seat plus a special collectible item. “When we host theme nights, we want fans to feel that theme from the moment they step into Toyota Field to the time the leave the ballpark,” said Lindsey Knupp, Trash Pandas Vice President. “These ticket packages are another opportunity to experience that even further.”

“We’re ecstatic to have another season of Trash Pandas baseball right around the corner,” said Ricky Fernandez, Director of Marketing and Promotions. “With the promotions schedule out, fans can now truly get in the mood for spring and start planning their trips to Toyota Field.”

All of the fun traditional special events for the Trash Pandas return in 2024 including the Dog Days where nine Wednesday nights have been scheduled for K-9 nights, only this year fans can have their furry friends with them in reserved box seats in Section 1 and 2.

New items are on tap for the latest 138-game season of the Los Angeles Angels’ Double-A affiliate. According to Garrett Fahrmann, General Manager, a new Kids Zone with inflatables will be hosted near the center field gate location. “This will include a bounce house, inflatable obstacle course and ski ball to go along with our MOJO Speed Pitch,” added Fahrmann.

Also added is the Sweet Space concession stand located next to the Trash Pandas Junkyard Team Store. Fahrmann said, “This will have frozen yogurt with toppings sold out of a souvenir helmet along with candy, churros and other sweet treats.”

“To help alleviate our long beer lines, we will be installing two Perfect Pour Valid Fill beer stations,” said Fahrmann. “One will be located next to the batting cage with the other next to the All-Star concession stand.” Fahrmann further explained, “Up to three drinks can be pre-purchased with a 22 oz. souvenir cup, which can be utilized all season. This will help eliminate waste and the time waiting in line.”

Last, but not least, will be the new vendor Nuts for You. The food locale will sell roasted cashews, pecans and almonds. “You will be able to smell the aroma as soon as you enter the ballpark,” added Fahrmann.

The Trash Pandas will launch a wedding giveaway as one lucky couple will have their big day at Toyota Field. Fans can submit an entry detailing why they should be selected for a wedding to take place during the Trash Pandas game on Saturday, Aug. 31. The lucky couple will receive a pregame ceremony on the field, reception for up to 40 guests in the Double Suite, a wedding cake, flowers, decorations and more. “The Trash Pandas players will wear special tuxedo-style jerseys during the game against the Smokies and a postgame fireworks display will cap off the night of bliss,” said Fahrmann.

Another new aspect to the 2024 Trash Pandas experience is the fact a new radio broadcast partnership will be part of the 138-game schedule. Trash Pandas broadcaster Josh Caray will have the call on both home and away games and will be heard on WZZN, 97.7 FM-HD2. Select games will also be carried on the parent signal on ESPN 97.7 The Zone.

“We’re trilled to begin this partnership with ESPN 97.7 The Zone and a new opportunity with WZZN-FM,” said Caray. “We look forward to several more years of delivering exciting Trash Pandas baseball to our listening audience.”

Television will again be a big part of the broadcast portion of Trash Pandas baseball. WAAY-TV, Channel 31 will carry each home game on its 31.6 sub-channel which is listed as ThisTV. With multiple cameras, instant replay and a state-of-the-art graphics package, the live production has been a marvelous addition to the already extraordinary broadcast situation with the team.

A new digital experience will include QR codes on each cupholder which will provide ballpark information, access of the game day program, concession menus, specialty theme night details and more.  A new Bill Penney digital Fan Zone wall located by The Junkyard Team Store will allow fans to view starting lineups, Southern League leaders and up to date team information.

Again in 2024, one of the featured areas of Toyota Field is the SportsMED Stadium Club located on the first base side of the stadium. Special tickets can be purchased for this huge area and special events can be hosted in the 5,000-plus square foot area which is adjacent to Club Terrace. The location offers audio-visual capabilities including a main projector, monitors, wireless microphones, and Bluetooth mastery. This premium event space offers 25-foot ceilings and enough space for up to 400 at a seated dinner and includes a beautiful bar which would be perfect for pre-dinner cocktails.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Troy Layton of SportsMED returns this season as the team physician.

Don’t miss the new photo opportunity, located on the concourse behind section 4!  A hand-crafted 3-D mural, designed by Ivan Garcia, a local artist, will be the place to meet and greet Sprocket during each home game.

The Trash Pandas will host six specialty theme jersey nights to raise money for charities. Last season, over $65,000 was raised. The six nights include Star Wars, Marvel Defenders of the Diamond, Friends, Space Night, Tuxedo Jersey and Huntsville Stars Tribute. Knupp added, “Game worn specialty jersey auctions encompass so much of what the Trash Pandas organization strives for. The jerseys are a fun way for fans to see the team engage with the theme night we’re presenting.”

Additional special game donation drives will be held throughout the season. All information regarding any item with the Trash Pandas can be found on the team’s website: www.trashpandasbaseball.com.

On the field, the team is just making its way in town from spring training, but the coaching staff is complete and features manager Andy Schatzley, in his third season, pitching coach Michael Wuertz, in his fourth season in Madison and coach Dann Bilardello, in his third season with the team. Bubba Hearn has returned as Clubhouse Manager as he was named the Southern League’s Clubhouse Manager of the Year after the 2023 season.

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