This evening, the Richmond Flying Squirrels will start hiring about 50 more people at a job fair for their upcoming baseball season. The season opener is in three weeks.
We sat down with the Squirrels' Chief Operating Officer about these jobs, what fans can expect this year, and how the Squirrels are doing as a business.
COO Todd "Parney" Parnell told us, "We're looking for food and beverage, ushers, people to work in the merchandise store." The jobs are part-time on nights and weekends and last through the summer.
"The main quality we're looking for is people who like people," Parney told us. "We're a fun organization. You get to have fun and go nuts. So people that are outgoing, enjoying serving others."
When the Squirrels arrived in Richmond three seasons ago, their first job fair was for up to 250 positions. But Parney says many return each year, so they only need 50 now. "Every year we retain a lot of our employees because they like working here, they fit out model, they enjoy coming to work here."
Last year, reports show the average number of ticket sales per game dropped by about 400. However, the ball park was first among Eastern League clubs in total attendance.
So this year, the Squirrels are inviting special visitors to keep fans coming back, including the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, Tickle from the television show Moonshiners, VCU basketball coach Shaka Smart and Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer.
Added Parney, "Javy Lopez is scheduled to be here. We're going back in history this year and celebrating the 20th year of the Elite 8 with the Richmond Braves. We're also going to have a game when we play as the Richmond Virginians."
The secret to the Squirrels success, Parney says, "We're not in the baseball business, we're not in the entertainment business, we're in the memory making business."
As for the future, the Squirrels hope the city will build it a new stadium. It's a controversial idea, but Parney says it will benefit the community. "It will become a destination for youth events, for concerts, for a plethora of activities. So I don't think it's a ballpark for the Flying Squirrels, I think it's a ball park for the region."
For now, the region will welcome the Squirrels back to the Diamond in three weeks.