June 20, 2013

Sea Dogs' stats steady in season 20, Eshbach says

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

CHARLIE ESHBACH is president of the Portland Sea Dogs, the AA Eastern League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Purchased as a minor league expansion team by the late Dan Burke, the team began play at Portland's Hadlock Field in 1994, originally as an affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Eshbach talked about the team, which is in the middle of its 20th season and currently in second place in its division:

click image to enlarge

Sea Dogs president Charlie Eshbach says attendance was nearly double what he expected when he first took the reins.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Q: Describe the financial relationship between the Red Sox and Sea Dogs. Who pays for what?

A: It's a rather complex thing, The contract is about 300 pages long. It's a player development contract. In a nutshell, they (the Red Sox) provide the players and we provide everything that goes along with their playing. It goes down to what percentage of the balls that they pay for and we pay for. They provide all the players and the manager and the coaches. We provide the place for the players to play and get them from point A to point B. We also pay a fee to Major League Baseball. It's a percentage of our ticket sales. It's standard for all Minor League Baseball teams. And we work through Major League licensing if we sell Red Sox merchandise.

Q: How about with the city?

A: The city owns the facility (Hadlock Field). They used to do the grounds-keeping, but we changed that a few years back. The city provides major capital improvements and we do the minor ones. The whole ballpark is the city's, but when we expanded and put in the new right-field stands, we paid for that, but it all belongs to the city.

Q: How many employees do you have?

A: Full-time and year-round, we have 13. We have a ticket director, we have group sales people, we have a guy that handles our finances and we have a guy that does stadium services and we have marketing people who do more than sell tickets, they also sell advertising. Then, during the season, we could have as many as 250 or so on the payroll -- not that they're all here at the same time. We have concession people, ushers, a cleaning crew, security, a lot of people. It depends on the game, too. Early in the year, it would be fewer than during the middle of the season (when the crowds are larger). Then it could be upwards of 150 people.

Q: How difficult is it to find and keep those game workers, when they might be on for a week of home games and off for a week of away games -- and, when they do work, it's sometimes during the day and sometimes at night?

A: It's not too bad. It's a great first job for kids, it's a great second job for college students and a great second job for people with regular jobs. If they can't work during the day, they can work a night game. It gives us a good cross-section of people to work here.

Q: What was attendance last year and what has the average been over the team's 20-year existence?

A: It was 374,000 last year and we've averaged close to 400,000 for our 20 years here.

Q: What are you anticipating for this year?

A: We aim at 400,000 every year. The weather in early April hurt us, but we hope for a nice summer.

(Continued on page 2)

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