“TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME!” THE INLAND EMPIRE 66ERS PUTS SAN BERNARDINO ON THE MAP!
It’s baseball season and one of our favorite pastimes is right in our own backyard! This past season, I sat down with Alex Groh to talk to him about his role in the minor league baseball team, the Inland Empire 66ers.
The 66ers are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels and play in the California League. They play their home games at the San Manuel Stadium, as it’s been called since it sponsorship by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, located off of E Street in San Bernardino.
Alex started with the team very recently and has been with them for just over a year. Prior to that, Alex was stationed in Idaho Falls as the Director of Operations for the Idaho Falls Chukars, another minor league baseball team, and interestingly enough… a sister team to the 66ers due to their shared ownership!
Not only does Alex have a love for the game and loyalty to the team owners, he also holds a degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles, making him uniquely qualified to hold this position in San Bernardino.
Before we begin, let’s start with a little history. The team began when the Salinas Spurs moved to San Bernardino and bought the name of the San Bernardino Spirit from the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, who had just left town. The team was bought by Elmore Sports Group soon afterwards. The team originally played at Fiscalini Field until 1996 when the team moved to San Bernardino Stadium, nicknamed “The Ranch” in concert with the team’s new name, the San Bernardino Stampede.
Later, the stadium was re-christened San Manuel Stadium sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians with their casino.
The team name was later changed to the team’s current name, the Inland Empire 66ers, taken from the historic US Route 66 that ran through San Bernardino. In September 2006, the 66ers announced they have agreed to a two-year affiliation with the Anaheim Angels to be the MLB club’s minor league “High A” ball affiliate.
The 66ers can anticipate over 400,000 people walking through the gates in 2018, and the regular games average around 2,700 people per night! The higher-attended games can reach over 4,000! But there’s still room to grow.
“The number one problem [with entertainment in San Bernardino] is ignorance as to what entertainment is available in San Bernardino,” says Alex, continuing “between the 66ers and the National Orange Show, you can easily find entertainment any month out of the year without having to leave the area!” The goal for the 66ers is to exceed those numbers! “It’s easy for people to forget that there is plenty of action happening right in [our] own backyard” says Alex.
The Inland Empire 66ers are proud to announce some new renovations and additions for this year. For example, new seats in the stadium, upgraded furniture and televisions in the luxury suites, “and the most exciting news is the addition of ‘The Garage’.” The Garage is an exclusive lounge area directly behind the first base dugout that provides catered food service for 90 minutes and includes a bar readily available with beer and wine for purchase!
This year, on May 3rd, the 66ers held their second annual Public Health Night at the stadium. “We worked in conjunction with the Riverside University Health System, Public Health, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health and the California Health Collaborative to create a night full of entertainment and awareness with regards to healthy eating, water safety and improving overall personal health.” More than 35 tables lined the concourse with public health exhibits, in-game entertainment was catered to display games/activities promoting public health, along with PSAs and PA announcements that allowed fans to remain a part of the action! “It was a sold out crowd of over 6,800 fans, many of whom came locally from San Bernardino, and it was a wonderful reminder that our local San Bernardino residents show great interest in the entertainment and themed evenings that we host on a weekly basis!” said Alex.
So, next time you are sitting home on a Friday night, remember, there is fun to be had at the ballpark! Inland Empire Homeowner Club members receive half off the ticket price at the box office when you display your membership card!