PORTLAND, Maine — The Boston Red Sox have special nights for their New England neighbors like State of Maine Day at Fenway Park.
The Portland Sea Dogs, the Red Sox’s Double-A Eastern League affiliate, has had special community days for fans from specific towns primarily in the Portland area.
But the Sea Dogs had never had a community day for Bangor or any town more than 100 miles away.
That will change Monday when the Sea Dogs will have Bangor Community Day.
The Bangor Daily News is the primary sponsor for the 1 p.m. Memorial Day game with the New Britain Rock Cats at Hadlock Field. Bangor Savings Bank and Fairpoint Communications will serve as supplemental sponsors.
The Rock Cats are affiliated with the Minnesota Twins.
The idea for Bangor Day was hatched several months ago, according to Geoff Iacuessa, the Sea Dogs’ executive vice president and general manager, and Liz Riley, the director of sales, marketing and promotions.
“It’s something we had talked about,” said Iacuessa. “Liz had some contacts in Bangor at the Bangor Daily News, Bangor Savings Bank and at other businesses, and she reached out to them.”
“We had been reaching out to specific communities hoping businesses within the community would be interested,” said Riley. “We understand them not being able to do it on a regular basis but we thought they might be interested in having a special day.”
Riley also said the Bangor market was appealing to them thanks to its progressive attitude that includes the state’s first casino, the Hollywood Casino, the construction of the new Bangor Auditorium and the Waterfront Concert Series that has attracted what she termed some “serious [top-notch] entertainment.”
“Every time I go to Bangor. I’m amazed at how much it is growing. It’s growing in leaps and bounds. It’s pretty exciting,” said Riley.
The Sea Dogs have been involved in other ventures with the Bangor community. They have regularly sent staff members to the annual WZON-AM Hot Stove Banquet at the Bangor Civic Center to drum up interest in the Sea Dogs. Boston Red Sox play-by-play man Joe Castiglione and his partner, Dave O’Brien, have been the featured guests in recent years.
“We’ve always had strong connections in Bangor,” said Riley.
“It’s important for us to reach out as much as we can across the state,” said Iacuessa. “We want to show our appreciation for their support over the first 19 years.”
Elizabeth Hansen, the Bangor Daily News’ director of research and market development, said BDN Digital Advertising Manager Dennis Gears brought Riley and the BDN together and that got the ball rolling.
“We were looking for a good partnership in Portland. We’re expanding our market area and this partnership looked real good for us,” explained Hansen. “The Sea Dogs are a known entity. They have a good reputation and a good brand and we like to align our brand with other good brands. So it made sense from that standpoint. We’re expanding and we’re there to stay.”
“They’re also an organization that engages audiences we like to interface with: kids, families and good healthy kinds of activities,” she added.
Shelley Sund, the Bangor Daily News’ marketing coordinator, said Riley came to Bangor three months ago and met with her, Editor-in-Chief Mike Dowd and Hansen.
“Liz was excited about cultivating support in Bangor and among the Bangor business community,” said Hansen. “We had previously had correspondence with her through emails and phone calls.”
“What it was for us was a trade-off,” explained Sund. “We came on as a sponsor and they’ll run a 30-second promotion on the scoreboard on Monday about our statewide sports coverage. We’ve also had a banner about our statewide sports coverage at Hadlock since the opener.”
Hansen said the Bangor Daily News has given the Sea Dogs free advertising “in all of our properties, the digital properties as well as the print properties.”
“I would classify it as a real good strategic partnership,” said Hansen.
The Sea Dogs have supplied the BDN with 250 tickets to Monday’s game and Hansen said the Bangor West and East Side Little Leagues have been given a bunch of them.
In addition, BDN Sports Editor Joe McLaughlin awarded 25 apiece to the Old Town High School softball and Orono High baseball teams courtesy of a competition among schools who did the best job reporting their games to the sports department.
There were several candidates and their names were drawn out of hat by 15-month-old Chloe Thibodeau, daughter of Cory Thibodeau and BDN Maine Living Editor Aimee Thibodeau.
Sund said they have tickets left over and she will distribute them at Hadlock Field before Monday’s game.
“We want to share the love around the Portland area as well,” said Hansen.
There will be plenty of activities surrounding Monday’s game as it will be Military Monday, which is a weekly feature, and it will also be Military Appreciation Day since it is Memorial Day.
“We’re going to honor our veterans. The team will be wearing special hats and they will auction them off after the game with the proceeds going to the National Guard fund for servicemen and their families,” said Riley.
“We raised $900 last year.”
In addition, all fans and their children can go on the field and play catch between 10-11:15 a.m.
“It should be a great time,” said Hansen.
All parties involved hope Bangor Community Day becomes an annual event.
“Absolutely,” said Riley. “Everything we do we like to make it continue and grow from year to year. When we held our first road race, we had 300 runners. This year we had to cap it at 3,000.”