Trying to turn an empty stadium into an asset, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have been hosting high school graduations, birthday parties and this week, the city’s only Fourth of July fireworks display.
The fireworks are just one way the minor league baseball club is trying to remain a vital part of the city, even without baseball games. The Fisher Cats called off their season in May, after announcing a delay in March. Team owner Arthur Solomon has said the canceled season could mean a $1 million loss for the team.
“We have been thinking of ways to reinvent ourselves through the past 3 1/2 months,” said Fisher Cats President Mike Ramshaw. “We never really considered ourselves as a graduation venue.”
Ramshaw said the club started thinking about an Independence Day event last month, as cities and towns across the state announced they would cancel their fireworks.
“When you have fireworks in a public place, you can’t control who’s coming in, who’s coming out and ensure social distancing,” Ramshaw said.
At Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the Fisher Cats, Ramshaw said they can make sure people stay spread out, and have more control over who is in the stadium.
There will be three shows — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — starting at 7 p.m. For ticket details, go to https://www.milb.com/new-hampshire/events/fireworks-shows.
People will have to wear masks as they go to their seats, and will be asked questions about COVID-19 symptoms before they arrive, Ramshaw said. People with tickets will be assigned a specific time to arrive at the stadium, to prevent crowding at the entrances.
Concession stands and restrooms will be open, but people will have to wear masks any time they leave their seats and do their best to stay 6 feet from others, Ramshaw said.
Atlas Fireworks, the same company that puts on Manchester’s annual Arms Park and the smaller displays after Fisher Cats games, is putting together the weekend’s fireworks shows.
Mike Shea, vice president of Atlas, said the displays will be a little smaller than the Arms Park show. Those shows are designed to be seen from different vantage points in the city, he said. The shows next week will only really be visible from the ballpark and the nearby hotel.
Shea said they will use smaller consumer-grade fireworks for the July shows, but he promised something a little more elaborate than a post-game display, and a different show each night.
The Fisher Cats have long marketed their Northeast Delta Dental Stadium as a venue for birthday parties, weddings and corporate gatherings. But the absence of baseball this summer put a spotlight on the other uses for a stadium.
Ramshaw said he hopes to open the stadium’s restaurant soon and wants to screen movies on the Jumbotron.
“We’re just really trying to think outside the box,” Ramshaw said. “Without baseball, we’re at the point where we’re asking, ‘What can we do to let people know that we’re here, and provide that source of entertainment?’ “
Ramshaw said he hopes some of these new events will become part of summer in Manchester even after the pandemic ends.
“It’s definitely making us think differently,” he said.
Staff writer Michael Cousineau contributed to this report.