Thursday, April 7, 2016

Fun Freetime: Red Sox 2016 Initiatives

The Red Sox will introduce a host of initiatives and events in 2016 designed to bring children and young adults closer to the game. The club’s “Calling All Kids” movement, presented by Hood, includes the introduction of virtual reality at Fenway Park, a mobile truck experience that brings elements of the ballpark out to the community, an Opening Day event for Little Leaguers at Fenway Park, free tickets to games for fans 14 and under, and $9 tickets for high school and college students. 
“Connecting with younger audiences has increasingly become a focus for our club,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. “Our efforts are concentrated on making enhancements to the ballpark experience for kids and families, relating to younger fans through new technology, and bringing the Fenway Park atmosphere out to the community. Finding new and unique ways to introduce baseball to children and young adults is critical, not only for the Red Sox but for the future of the game itself.”
Reality Check
For the first time, the club will offer a virtual reality experience at Fenway Park through a series of 360 videos that give exclusive, all-access  views of what it’s like to be a Red Sox player during the 2016 season. From the action of Spring Training to game preparation at Fenway Park, fans will have the ability to experience behind-the-scenes moments through new virtual reality headsets that will be set up in a re-created Red Sox dugout. 
Virtual reality stations will be available to kids in Wally’s Clubhouse and to all fans in the Kids Concourse. The videos will also be available  to fans online. 
On The Road Again
The Red Sox will take Fenway Park on the road with a new mobile truck that will bring the ballpark experience to communities throughout New England. The Red Sox Mobile Experience presented by T-Mobile features a 15-foot truck with panels that move to remake the Green Monster wall. The truck will carry a batting cage, virtual reality dugout, and pitching stations to dozens of cities and towns during the 2016 season. The Red Sox Mobile Experience will debut the week of May 9 leading into MLB’s national “Play Ball!” weekend.
Also, for the third straight year, the Red Sox will partner with the Highland Street Foundation and the City of Boston for “Out of the Park,” a free event for families that brings a screening of a Red Sox road game and the atmosphere of Yawkey Way to a city park. The date and park location will be announced in the coming weeks.  
Little Big League
The Red Sox will host hundreds of Little Leaguers at Fenway Park on Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to noon for an Opening Day event that will celebrate the start of Little League’s baseball and softball season. Mayor Martin J. Walsh is scheduled to attend the special ceremony which will also include members of the Red Sox front office. Free concessions for the Little Leaguers will be provided by Red Sox concessionaire Aramark. 
Additionally, the Red Sox Foundation will once again sponsor Little League teams across the Commonwealth by providing grants that help supply uniforms and equipment. The foundation will also continue to fund and operate 32 RBI teams (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and Rookie Leagues. The youth programs serve more than 1600 at-risk children in the Boston area.
Free Tickets for Kids, Affordable Tickets for Students
For the second year in a row, entry-level membership in Red Sox Kid Nation will be free, and every child in the program can attend a game for free.  Membership is for children 14 and under. Fans can begin signing up for the membership and free ticket starting today on The Red Sox Kid Nation program is presented by Hood.
Those who signed up for the free membership last year will automatically be re-enrolled in this year’s program. The free ticket is also available to those who sign up for the paid membership. More than 53,000 fans signed up for the Kid Nation program after the free ticket was introduced in 2015.  
For high school and college students with a student ID, the club will again offer a $9 ticket for every regular season home game. The “Student 9’s,” presented by Selfeo, guarantee at least an entry into standing room with the possibility of an upgrade to seats when available.
Touching the Game
The Red Sox have made enhancements to Wally’s Clubhouse, located in the Kids Concourse behind right field, including opportunities for kids to experience the tactile elements of baseball. 
A rolling mobile exhibit will feature a miniature fiberglass version of Pesky’s Pole that youngsters can sign with a dry erase marker, a piece of the padded field wall that lines the infield and outfield, and various compartments with objects for them to feel, such as a deconstructed baseball and Fenway Park dirt.
Miniature lockers staged to look just like the ones in the Red Sox clubhouse will be installed in Wally’s Clubhouse, and an oversized trunk filled with authentic Red Sox jerseys, cleats, and batting gloves will be available for kids to play dress up.  
In addition to the tactile elements, enhanced organized games and activities such as Red Sox bingo, story time, Q&A sessions, and lessons on scoring the game will take place in the space. The Red Sox will also host a comprehensive clinic later in the season for kids who want to learn how to score the game.    
And for the young collectors in the family, an extensive Red Sox bobblehead collection will be on display in the Team Store window located in the Kids Concourse.
Families are encouraged to enter the ballpark through Gate K (for Kids), which was created in 2015 and leads directly into the Kids Concourse. Wally’s Clubhouse is located in the Kids Concourse and is open for fans each home game from the 3rd through 7th innings.
Tessie, You Are the Only, Only, Only
At the end of Spring Training, Tessie the Green Monster will take her place in the Kids Concourse at Fenway Park where she will be a permanent staple before and during Red Sox home games throughout the season. Tessie is Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster’s sister and was introduced to fans in January at Baseball Winter Weekend at Foxwoods.

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