As the Dayton Dragons prepare for their 15th season at Fifth Third Field, their list of past accomplishments is staggering. The Dragons’ awards, honors and milestones have brought national recognition to the Dayton area, and the success of the franchise has remained consistent, at a level that even the most optimistic observer could not have foreseen when the franchise began operating in 2000.
The Dragons have the longest streak of consecutive sold-out games in the history of North American sports. The streak stands at 983 entering the 2014 season.
“The Dayton Dragons epitomize how a Minor League Baseball club should operate,” says Pat O’Conner, the president of Minor League Baseball. “They have become a cornerstone for the community.”
Fans at Fifth Third Field have seen 63 Dragons players advance to play in the Major Leagues, most of them with the Dragons big league affiliate, the Cincinnati Reds. The list of players includes: former National League Most Valuable Player, Joey Votto; all-stars Jay Bruce and Adam Dunn; and standouts Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto and Todd Frazier.
The Dragons have also received numerous honors that have gained recognition throughout the world of sports. They were the first Minor League team in any sport to be selected as a finalist for the prestigious SportsBusiness Journal “Team of the Year” award in 2012. They shared the honor of being a finalist with four major league clubs: the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball, the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, Stewart-Haas Racing of NASCAR, and Sporting Kansas City of the Major League Soccer.
Perhaps the largest contributing factors to the Dragons success over their history have been the club’s focus on family entertainment and customer service. Several entertainers are part of the nightly scene at Fifth Third Field including the Dragons ‘two primary mascots, Heater and Gem. The Dragons’ legendary entertainment group, the Green Team, orchestrates skits, contests and sing-a-longs at every Dragons home game.
“We have 70 opportunities each season to provide a night of entertainment to our fans,” says Robert Murphy, Dragons president. “Whether you’re attending a game on a Tuesday night in April or a Saturday evening in July, our commitment to our fans is the same. At every Dragons game, we work hard to provide an upbeat, fun atmosphere that will appeal to everyone, whether you’re a huge baseball fan or simply want to enjoy a night with the family.”
The Dragons’ customer service is visible on game nights inside the ballpark, but it also includes the entire ticket-buying experience. Every season, the Dragons have high annual renewal rates with their season ticket holders. Every season ticket comes with a special commemorative collector’s item and renewal notices even come with a special gift. For the past 14 years, fans with season tickets have received customized tins and wooden boxes, bobbleheads, blankets and hats.
“We pride ourselves on our customer service,” says Eric Deutsch, Dragons executive vice president. “Our efforts are fanatical…Disney-esque.”
After attending Disney training seminars in 1998 and 1999, the Dragons created “Dragons University” in their first season. Every year, the 36 full-time employees and more than 500 seasonal game-day employees attend training sessions that teach them how to entertain and service the almost 600,000 fans Fifth Third Field hosts each season.
Deutsch, like Murphy, has helped oversee the Dragons operation since even before the first game was played on April 27, 2000. They’ve maintained a successful product as the seasons have gone by.
“We emphasize new ideas, never becoming complacent,” says Deutsch. “But our principles never change. Fun family entertainment, affordable products, unsurpassed customer service, providing our business partners with a unique marketing opportunity, and community involvement.”
The Dragons’ sell-out streak is due to the community’s involvement and corporate support. Many of their sponsors and season ticket holders have been with the Dragons since the beginning.
“No community has done what our community has done over the past 14 years,” says Deutsch. “That support is critical to our success and important in keeping the stadium sold out and vibrant for our region.”