MADISON, Ala. – Despite challenges, many are calling The Rocket City Trash Pandas inaugural season a success.
“If you ask me on a scale of 1-10. We’re about a 9.5 on what we could have done this year,” says Madison Mayor Paul Finley when asked to rate the team’s first season.
Toyota Field was ready to open in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the minor league season. After a year of community events at the field to pass time and make up for lost revenue, the Trash Pandas team could finally play ball in 2021.
“What I continue to hear from folks is the joy people had previously forgotten about is back,” says Mayor Finley.
In 2021 Trash Pandas drew nearly 6,000 people to the stadium per game.
“We have 7,500 as our capacity. I think everyone really embraced baseball being back in North Alabama,” says Trash Pandas Vice President of Marketing Lindsey Knupp.
The Trash Pandas and its owner Ballcorps, LLC faced a fair share of challenges.
“We’ve had some weather challenges, some staffing challenges, parking challenges, which I think we took care of day one. We did have six rainouts so far this year, most recently two cancellations from the visiting team having COVID,” says Knupp.
There was controversy over the nonpayment of ‘venue revenue’ from the organization to the City of Madison. Mayor Paul finely says now the team is caught up on payments.
“The Ballcorps team has paid everything from 2020 so we are up to date from last year and they are on track of 2021 payments that are due,” says Mayor Finley.
The Trash Pandas President, Ralph Nelson, also suddenly resigned less than 2 weeks before the first game.
“That Ballcorps team that was in place has just picked up and done nothing but moved forward and they’ve been a great partner to work with,” says Finley.
The Trash Pandas credit success to new leadership and the family atmosphere at Toyota Field.
“All of us, from a front-office standpoint, have come together and have really stepped up to do whatever it takes,” says Knupp.
The Trash Pandas say they look forward to continuing community events in the off-season and are already preparing for baseball in 2022.