I’m from a small town called Pensacola. We are famous for being the home base of the Blue Angels Navy Flight demonstration team that travels the country performing daredevil flying maneuvers. We have a huge Naval Air Base that trains every naval aviator in the Armed Forces. Most of the entertainment options in Pensacola in the past involved going to museums, musical performances, the beach, or a nice seafood restaurant. While visiting my family over July 4th week, I discovered the best entertainment value for $10 out there, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Baseball.
my shock at a full house for minor league AA baseball
I remember when the city had a big election to determine whether or not to build the minor league stadium. Essentially all sports stadiums are money losing entities and poor financial decisions, so most of my family opposed building the stadium. They believed it would mean higher property taxes and fewer resources available for other civic needs. They also thought that attendance would be subpar after the first season or two, and then we would be stuck with a large debt payment on an underperforming city asset.
I think I underestimated the Pensacola population and their civic pride. When I went during a hot week in early July to a Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball game, the stadium was packed with fans. The atmosphere for a AA minor league baseball game was incredible. Some elderly 70 something year old lady was screaming at the top of her lungs. People roared whenever one of the Wahoos made a big hit. Fans rolled over laughing when they had the mascot run across the field being chased by little kids, and then some of those kids ran towards the infield instead. Pensacolians finally have a sports team they can be proud of, and it was enormously fun getting to cheer along with them.
pensacola Blue wahoos baseball team has a commitment to hiring People who happen to have disabilities
When I walked into the stadium, I couldn’t help but notice the preponderance of individuals with disabilities who had employment there. When you don’t know someone’s story, you notice their most obvious characteristics. I imagine that most folks with disabilities face discrimination in the workplace, but the Wahoos are not one of these employers. Clearly, the owners Quint Studer and Bubba Watson (the PGA golfer) care about people. The employees I saw with these disabilities were some of the most enthusiastic and helpful workers I’ve encountered at any business anywhere.
I felt great knowing that my $10 went to providing jobs to people with disabilities, just as shopping at Goodwill provides jobs to all people as part of their mission. When I spent $30 for nosebleed seats at a Phillies game, I helped pay a small portion of multimillion dollar players’ contracts. Supporting minor league baseball felt a lot more worthwhile.
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos Baseball Park is beautiful, plus the concessions are reasonable
Wahoo’s stadium overlooks Pensacola Bay. You can see barges pushing their cargo, oil ships returning to port, and other pleasure aircraft heading out to see. All these pretty sights happen while you’re watching a baseball game. The park is very new and clean, and the staff are incredibly nice and helpful.
One part that blew me away about minor league baseball is how affordable the concessions are. If you tried to buy a beer at the Phillies’ stadium, it’d be ridiculously expensive. At Wahoos’ stadium, most things were $5 and under. My girlfriend bought a beer for my uncle and a piña colada slushly for a total of $10. If you wanted to take your family to a minor league baseball game, you could actually eat dinner at the park and not walk away broke.
the fireworks show at the end was worth the $10
At the end of the game, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team won 4-2 so naturally we needed to celebrate right? They shot off one of the most impressive fireworks shows I’ve ever seen. That says a lot since the fireworks happened at a minor league baseball stadium. I guess Southerners know how to shoot off colorful explosives in style.
Honestly, the fireworks alone were worth the $10 price of admission. Most everyone stayed behind just to watch the show. The fireworks were not a one time thing either. We could see the fireworks at the baseball stadium the night before all the way across Pensacola bay at the beach house where the whole family stayed for the week.
Frugality Does Not Mean You Can’t Spend on Entertainment
People think because I try to live on $20,000 a year that I must have a poverty like existence. They assume I eat ramen noodles and deprive myself of basic human needs and wants. They question why I try to survive on a bizarre early retirement budget in my twenties. I seek value per dollar that leaves my wallet. That’s the main difference in how the average American spends on entertainment and how I spend.
If I have a chance at being behind home plate at a quality minor league baseball stadium where many of the players move on to the major leagues, that sounds like a great $10 to spend. Contrast this to many working class people who shell out $100 or more at a MLB game to sit so far from the action that they can’t see anything. I just spent two days at Disney World for free thanks to my brother who works there. If we had to pay for the experience, we would not have gone. I adjust what entertains me to activities that allow my to maintain my financial security and freedom. If the Great Depression happened tomorrow, very few of my entertainment options would involve spending money.
If you’re ever in Pensacola, FL, stop by a Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball game. It was the best $10 I ever spent on entertainment. If you are a sports fan, I think you might have to agree with me.
Readers, where have you received tremendous value for your entertainment dollar? Comment below!