The newest player on Chicago’s sports scene is looking to provide a fan experience you’ll truly relish.
The Chicago Dogs minor league baseball team kicks off its inaugural season this week in the brand new, $60 million Impact Field in Rosemont. The home opener is Friday, May 25.
And, yes, the team’s insignia features an actual Chicago hot dog, not a dog of the four-legged variety.
The team, which will play in the independent American Association, is owned by Shawn Hunter, former president of the Phoenix Coyotes and Andschutz Entertainment Group Sports (AEG), and Steven Gluckstern, former owner of the Coyotes and the New York Islanders.
Hunter said it’s been a dream of his for 20 years to get into minor league baseball, and that he’s excited to be partnering with the village of Rosemont to, well, let the Dogs out.
“I’ve always had great admiration for minor league baseball,” he said. “I always thought it was the best fan experience.”
The Dogs enter a Chicago market that already has a handful of minor league teams – not to mention a couple Major League clubs. But Hunter says he’s confident they’ll win fans over with seats close to the action and accessible players and coaches.
“Our goal is to become the best ballpark experience in the country,” Hunter said. “I can’t wait for Opening Day.”
Typical seats run between $9 and $25, but you can also buy single-game tickets for the 200-person private club for $100, which includes an unlimited buffet as well as beer, wine and pop.
The 6,300-seat stadium also has picnic areas, luxury suites and a large second-level bar that will offer a selection of craft beers along with comfy couches and chairs.
Hunter said perhaps the best seat in the house might be the fan deck behind home plate known as “The Outlook.”
“When you’re standing up there you feel you’re right on top of the batter,” he said. The area will be open to single-game ticket holders, but also can be rented out by groups.
Minor league baseball teams have long been known for cutting-edge gimmicks, and Hunter said the Dogs have planned a number of fun promotions, even some bordering on the irreverent.
“People will be entertained from the time they park the car until they leave the game,” he said.
Among the recurring promotions will be Family Sundays, with “bottomless” popcorn and pop for $3 each and a skills competition for kids; “Brewsday Tuesdays” with $2 domestic drafts; “Fan Fridays” with giveaways and kids allowed to run the bases after the game, and post-game fireworks shows on Saturdays.
Levy Restaurants will handle concessions along with food and drink in the private areas.
“I’m excited to offer that to the fans. It will all be first class and a great variety,” he said. And, in a nod to the team’s name, Hunter promised “the best and biggest serving size of a Chicago dog in the market.”
And then there’s the baseball, which Hunter said is still the star of the show after all.
“The competitive side of our organization is dedicated to winning every night,” he said.
Leading that effort will be Manager Butch Hobson, whose four decades in baseball include a stint as manager of the Boston Red Sox in the 1990s. He was manager of the Kane County Cougars in west suburban Geneva last year.
“He’s absolutely the right guy to lead the team,” Hunter said. “He also knows our first job is to entertain the fans.”
Hunter said as the Dogs look to stand out in the competitive market, one of the greatest marketing tools will be the new ballpark itself.
He said pre-season tours left people breathless.
“When they actually set foot in Impact Field there’s a ‘holy cow!’ moment,” he said.
For more information, including a full schedule, promotions and tickets, visit thechicagodogs.com.