With snow still piled high in parts of Maine, Portland Sea Dogs fans optimistic about a day in shorts at the ballpark are driving brisk sales for opening day at Hadlock Field on April 4.
“Sales for opening day are ahead of this point last year,” said Chris Cameron, spokesman for the Sea Dogs. “We sold out opening day last year, and we’re on pace to do that again.”
The seating capacity at Hadlock is 7,368.
Season ticket sales also are slightly higher. The season opener starts at 6 p.m. against the Reading Fightin Phils.
“We attribute [the sales] to the success of the Red Sox winning the World Series last year,” he said. “So many former Sea Dogs players were on the World Series roster.” The Sea Dogs are Boston’s Double-A affiliate.
He said the 12 former Sea Dogs players included outfielders Mookie Betts and Adam Benintendi, and infielder Xander Bogaerts.
The Red Sox open their season Thursday with an away game against the Seattle Mariners. The home opener at Fenway Park is April 9, five days after the Sea Dogs’ home opener. The Red Sox will play the Toronto Blue Jays.
This year is the first time all 15 American League and all 15 National League teams are playing on opening day, and it’s the earliest opening day ever, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Even with the cold April temperatures, Cameron expects fans to buy the baseball game favorites: beer, hot dogs and soda.
“But as temperatures drop throughout the night, they will change to hot chocolate and coffee,” he said.
One item whose sales never fall off is the Sea Dogs’ ice cream biscuit, which Cameron said doesn’t melt in the cold.
Fans will be greeted with new menu items on opening day, including lobster popcorn and a fried dough burger.
The lobster popcorn, priced at $10, consists of lobster mixed with popcorn topped with melted butter served in a mini Sea Dogs helmet.
The fried dough burger, not yet priced, stacks up eight patties, cheese, bacon crumbles, lettuce and tomato with two fried doughs serving as the bun.
The Sea Dogs also have started Foodie Fridays at the park, with delectables including deep fried Pop-Tarts, whoopie pie ice cream and vanilla ice cream with candied bacon. Each Friday will offer a different special coupled with a local Maine beer.
Cameron said one of the special days during the season is June 21, when the Sea Dogs will rebrand as the Maine Whoopie Pies in a collaboration with the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival the following day in Dover-Foxcroft.