The day was April 14, 1988 – the day of the Buffalo Bisons’ home opener and the opening of Pilot Field itself.
Fast forward to 2017, and Coca-Cola Field (renamed in 2008) is still the home of the Buffalo Bisons.
This year marks the team’s 30th season – an important milestone for the team and organization, and they’re celebrating with ticket packages and fun nights at the park for all.
"I think what makes this milestone so special is because of the generational nature of going to a Bisons game," said Brad Bisbing, director of marketing and public relations for the Bisons.
"Maybe you were 6 or 7 years old when you attended your first Bisons game at Pilot Field in 1988 or 1989. Now, 30 years later, you may be taking your own children to their first game at the ballpark this season. Having that memory as a kid and then sharing that moment with your own children is very special," he continued.
This leaves fans to wonder – how will this season be celebrated?
According to Bisbing, each Buffalo player will have a special "30th Season" patch on their home uniforms to commemorate the event.
For those who aren’t on the field, Bisbing says that there will be plenty of celebrations to go around.
For starters, there are ticket packages to ensure that almost anyone gets a great deal.
"For this milestone season, we wanted to do something more to celebrate the great value that has always been associated with Bisons baseball," said Bisbing. He noted that the Bisons have introduced new and unique packages for the 30th season including a ticket for all 14 of the team’s home games in April for $30 and a "Celebration Pack" that includes tickets to Star Wars Night, the KeyBank Independence Eve Celebration with the BPO and Superhero Night.
If you aren’t able to come to the field, you can celebrate with the Bisons on social media, Bisbing said.
"The best thing about a yearlong celebration is we’ll be able to pay tribute to 30 seasons at Coca-Cola Field during each of our 71 home games. In the park and on our social media channels, we’ll celebrate all the great players, games, promotions and events that we have all shared together here at the ballpark."
If you do come down to Coca-Cola Field, there are a few dates that you may want to look out for. The 30th of each month (to celebrate the 30th season) will offer a few other ways to celebrate this year’s milestone, Bisbing said.
"We also will have a special ‘Championship Banner Replica’ giveaway series on May 30, July 30 and August 30, a Coca-Cola Field replica giveaway on June 15 and a special ‘30th Season Celebration Night’ with fireworks on our game on August 30," Bisbing said.
Bisbing credits the team’s owners for ensuring that a trip to a Bison’s game is an enjoyable experience.
"Since the ballpark first opened, our great owners Bob and Mindy Rich have reinvested over $23 million back into the ballpark to make sure it remains one of the top minor league ballparks in the country," he said. "We also have a tremendous partnership with Mayor Byron Brown and the City of Buffalo to keep this ballpark in great condition."
While some of these investments have made visible changes in the ballpark, others represent less noticeable improvements. Bisbing continued, "Some of those improvements are behind-the-scenes, infrastructure improvements that keep the ballpark running great.
"Others, like the 80-foot HD scoreboard, the Bully Hill Party Deck in right field and our line of new club-level party suites are what keep Bisons games so fun and entertaining," Bisbing said.
Coca-Cola Field has also established a reputation for family-friendly fun over the past 30 years.
"Over 30 years, we are extremely proud of the reputation we have established for providing a safe, clean and enjoyable atmosphere for all our fans, especially families. When you come to the ballpark, you know you’ll be in a great family-friendly environment that is fun for everyone," said Bisbing.
The Bisons start their season Saturday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Coca-Cola Field. There to throw out the ceremonial first pitch will be Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel.
Out of all the great home games this season, Bisbing recommends that fans try to come to the Celebration Night on August 30. As of now, most of the details are secret, but Bisbing said that the night will be memorable.
"Much of the details surrounding our Celebration Night will be announced as we get closer to the night, but this will no doubt be a night fans should circle on their calendars," Bisbing said.
So help celebrate the Bisons’ 30th season at Coca-Cola Field by attending some (or all) of the team’s 71 home games.
"The best part about having 71 home games is we can do so many fun things each and every night," Bisbing said. "Our hope is that everyone enjoys the 30th season celebration by coming down to Coca-Cola Field this season."
Bryan Renzoni is a freshman at Clarence High School.