Bisons ready for first full season in Buffalo since 2019
When the Buffalo Bisons begin their 2022 International League season April 5, it will be the first time in three years that the minor league baseball team has hosted a season opener in April.
The Buffalo Bisons hosted their annual “What’s New at the Ballpark” preview Tuesday at Sahlen Field. On this occasion, the team showcased new foods to be sold during the season, new alternate uniforms and previewed promotions to be held in the coming season.
But there was another special recognition at this year’s preview. It’s the first time since 2019 that the Bisons will get to play a full season in front of local fans.
“We're going to be the first professional (baseball) game being played this year,” noted Bisons General Manager Anthony Sprague, pointing out that Major League Baseball’s regular season opening day is later in the month, delayed as the result of an off-season labor lockout which has since been resolved.
Buffalo’s 2020 season, along with all of minor league baseball, was canceled due to the COVID pandemic. In 2021, to allow their Major League affiliate club Toronto Blue Jays to borrow Sahlen Field for their own home games, the Bisons played a significant chunk of their own season at “home” in Trenton, NJ.
“When the Jays were here, we had a lot more time to get ready from the winter to April. So that's been a little bit of a transition for us, to get back to what normal, to getting ready in April,” Sprague said. “But to have people back for the entire promotional schedule the entire year, I think what that does is really gets people in the mindset of ‘okay, things are really getting back to normal here. The Bisons are coming back, Bisons are bringing all the fun stuff that they do back, and we can count on a traditional baseball season compared to what the last two years were.’”
The Bisons will be bring back many of their traditional promotions, including “Friday Night Bash,” home games that are followed by a fireworks display. They’ll also host their annual Star Wars game, one of the most popular family draws to Sahlen Field each season. They will also bring back their annual Independence Day celebration with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
New events will include a Native American Heritage night in June and a Hispanic Heritage night in September.
Although the Blue Jays called Buffalo home for some of the 2021 season, Canadians were unable to attend games in Buffalo due to border restrictions. Sprague said the Bisons are looking forward to welcoming Canadian fans back to the ballpark to see the Jays’ prospects playing in Buffalo uniforms.
“When we we're looking at our promotions and numbers and stuff, we said you know, the Canadian fans still can’t come over and even up until a few weeks ago, they couldn't come over. So with that being lifted somewhat, we think it's going to have a huge impact. A quarter of our fan base comes from Southern Ontario and Canada,” he said.
The Bisons’ scheduled season opener is April 5 at Sahlen Field against the Iowa Cubs, beginning at 1:05 p.m.