Kansas City Royals Owner David Glass will be on hand Thursday to help the Northwest Arkansas Naturals celebrate the start of the team’s 2014 home schedule.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Double-A affiliate of the Royals, take on the Frisco RoughRiders in the home opener at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
As the Naturals start their seventh season in Northwest Arkansas, Minor League Baseball and the communities where its teams play are being widely credited for providing exceptional amenities, and fans are showing up at the games in high numbers. Milb.com reported 176 minor-league teams last year drew 41 million fans, and 13 of the 14 highest attendance seasons have occurred since 2001.
More than 300,000 fans attended games last year at Arvest Ballpark.
"The Naturals provide Northwest Arkansas residents with so many great memories," said Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse. "Everywhere I go, I hear from residents from across the region who are appreciative of our beautiful ballpark and the affordable family fun it provides. This season will supply hours of enjoyment for kids of all ages. And anyone who hasn't seen a Friday night Fireworks show at Arvest Ballpark should definitely add that to their summer bucket list."
The Naturals are a key part of Northwest Arkansas’ constantly improving quality of life. The team arrived with the opening of 7,300-seat Arvest Ballpark in 2008.
The team plays a 140-game schedule (70 home games) in the Texas League, competing against teams from North Little Rock: Frisco, Texas; Tulsa; Springfield, Mo.; Corpus Christi, Texas; San Antonio; and Midland, Texas.
The pre-game festivities, which will begin at 5:45 p.m., will be highlighted by the announcement of a new inductee into the Naturals' Hall of Fame. Nominees for induction include first baseman Eric Hosmer, first baseman Kila Ka'aihue, outfielder Wil Myers, third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Salvador Perez, and long-time Naturals manager Brian Poldberg.
Glass, who purchased the Royals in 2000, is a former Walmart president and chief executive officer. Glass played a major role in the retailer’s domestic and international growth. The other pre-game speaker will be Sprouse.
A post-game fireworks show is scheduled for Thursday night.