It’s been a quarter-century since the Danville Braves began playing in the city, and the organization is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season.
City officials and the team’s general manager all agree that having a baseball team has provided a range of benefits for Danville.
“We’re definitely good contributors to the economy,” said Danville Braves General Manager and Vice President David Cross.
An average of 1,100 fans attend each game throughout the season, and Cross said he would like to have an economic impact study conducted on the organization. The team’s presence in the community translates to meals taxes, hotel room nights, staff salaries and other economic benefits for the area, he said.
The team plays a total of 68 games from June to Labor Day each season, with 34 played at home in Danville and the other 34 away, Cross said.
This season’s first game is against Pulaski at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Danville.
Danville Economic Development Director Telly Tucker could not provide figures on the organization’s economic impact, but called the team an asset that’s tremendously valuable.
“From a name-recognition standpoint, it puts Danville on the map,” Tucker said. “Anytime you can have name recognition, naturally that’s going to do wonders from a marketing standpoint.”
Also, it provides another entertainment option locally, he added.
Upcoming events for the Danville Braves’ 25th anniversary include a 1993 and 1994 baseball card giveaway June 21, bobble head giveaways and other events listed at the organization’s website at dbraves.com.
Cross, who has been with the organization since 2000, has seen quite a few changes over the years — especially in technology.
“The technology has changed dramatically,” he said, referring to advancements in baseball video and analyzing data from plays on the field.
At the baseball park, seats have been replaced, and there will be a new concession area in the second home stand June 29, Cross said.
The team’s roster can hold up to 35 players and is in the Appalachian League, which includes 10 teams across Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. The Danville Braves is the advance rookie affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.
About four players per year make it to the major leagues, Cross said.
Before coming to Danville, the Braves were in Pulaski, he said.
“The city approached the Braves, the Braves moved from Pulaski to here,” Cross said.
The team, which has been in the Appalachian League since the 1970s, came to Danville in 1993.
Besides holding baseball games and other events, the organization contributes to area nonprofits and charitable organizations, Cross said.
Danville City Manager Ken Larking said the city is proud to have the Braves here, and there is always a good crowd at the games.
“It’s always a good time for anybody who wants to see a game,” Larking said. “It’s affordable. That’s a big plus for our community.”
The team brings in prospects, and fans get to see them before they’re stars, he added. Its presence brings a variety of people to its games, Tucker said.
“It attracts a diverse crowd,” Tucker said. “It promotes inclusivity and diversity in this region and I think that’s a good thing.”
In addition, the ballpark’s location along the Riverwalk Trail helps attract more attention to the trail’s amenity, Tucker said.
The Braves also support events in the River District, he added.
“They’ve been engaged with different events in the River District,” Tucker said. “It’s an ideal partnership to have in the community that’s part of making this a place people want to live in and people want to visit.”
“There are a lot of communities that would like a minor league baseball affiliate in their town,” he added.