Some changes at the park, but officials expect the same fun baseball atmosphere at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex
The general manager of the Ridgefield Raptors is in competition with all of the West Coast League teams in filling out their rosters with top college baseball talent.
He feels like he has an advantage.
“Southwest Washington is growing. It’s really a gem they probably haven’t seen before,” Gus Farah said. “It’s beautiful. The weather is good. It’s not too hot, generally. In the Pacific Northwest, for a lot of kids, maybe they don’t even know where it is.”
Once they arrive, though, they are right at home.
“They get to come out and visit and the community has been so welcoming to them. From host families to season ticket holders and the fans on a nightly basis,” Farah said. “They’ve made them feel really good and wanted.”
The Ridgefield Raptors are set to begin their third season of summer, wood-bat league baseball, featuring college players from several states.
Farah is the GM for two teams: the Raptors and the Cowlitz Black Bears. Those two teams will face each other Wednesday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex in the first game of the season.
It is a “non-league” game but there is something riding on the outcome. By adding a single game to start the season, the two teams will play each other a total of seven times. Farah said the teams needed an odd number of games between them to determine the winner of the Columbia Cup, the team that wins the season series. Cowlitz took the Cup last summer.
For Farah, the Cup gives him a guaranteed winner every year. Of course, it also assures him of being the GM for the losing squad.
“At the end of the day, I’m the filter for all of it,” he said with a laugh.
He is thrilled with building the brand of the Columbia Cup for both franchises. He also is hoping that fans will get behind the Cup.
In fact, this year, season ticket holders, host families, and clients of the teams will get free tickets to the road games. So Raptors season ticket holders can support their team in Longview later in the season.
West Coast League play begins Friday. The Raptors host a three-game series with the Walla Walla Sweets.
“We’ve had this business going into its third season, fourth year,” Farah said. “We’ve learned from our successes and we’ve learned from our mistakes. Preparation really matters. There are a lot of details.”
Some of the changes this season include an addition to kids days on Sundays. Children still get in for free on Sunday, but this year there will be a “bouncy house” in an area designated for children.
Tuesday home games will feature $3 Tuesdays. That’s $3 for a general admission ticket, plus food and drink options for $3. On Wednesdays, fans using the Fan Food App will get a 15-percent discount. (Also, for anyone new to the app, there is a 20-percent discount for first-time users.)
“We’re trying to motivate the app,” Farah said. “It’s a good way to keep the pressure off the concession (staff) a little bit.”
Eventually, he said, the plan is to have delivery service, right to your seat. For now, though, Farah encourages fans to pre order their food, using the app, and then picking up their items.
The Raptors have sold close to 400 season tickets, which, Farah said, is among the best in the league. He appreciates the loyal fans. Many of them stay until the final pitch, even during bad weather games or blowouts.
But even with a product they can be proud of, the Raptors are always looking for ways to make things better.
This year, there is extra safety fencing around the concourse. There will be more food options. (Think Philly cheesesteak and pulled pork.) And the organization wants to welcome more groups.
“The way I look at it, we have to improve everything by 2 percent every year,” Farah said.
The public can get its first look at the 2022 improvements Wednesday at Opening Night. For a full schedule and ticket prices, go to: https://ridgefieldraptors.com/