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By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The staff at IPS Inc. in Lafyaette Hill decided their company outing would be a bus trip on May 5th to see the Phillies take on the Nationals in Washington D.C. When the Nationals decided to ‘Take Back The Park,” the folks at IPS were left with a bus, and nowhere to go. (see related story)

The Nationals no longer wanted to sell tickets to Phillies fans (see related story), so they did not honor a deposit they took from IPS for a block of tickets to the game. The Nationals returned their ticket deposit, but IPS had already put a non-refundable deposit down on a bus for the May 5th game.

That’s where the Reading Phillies came in. Todd Hunsicker, who works in the front office for the Reading Phillies, read about the situation. He forwarded the story along to his brother Scott, who is the General Manager of the team. “We’re from Conshohocken, went to Plymouth Whitemarsh high school, so it kind of jumped out because IPS is from Lafayette Hill,” Scott said.”We were like wow, there’s this company that’s 45 minutes from our stadium, that by reading the article, realized wanted to go to a baseball game on May 5th.”

Scott reached out to the company, and offered them 100 complimentary tickets to the Reading Phillies game against Erie. IPS gladly accepted, and once again have a trip planned to go see a baseball game on May 5th.

The Reading Phillies are no stranger to outside-the-box promotions to sell tickets, but haven’t done anything like “Take Back The Park.” Still, Hunsicker says can’t say for sure whether it’s a good idea for the Nationals. “I’ve come to learn over the years that every market’s different. They would know better than I,” Hunsicker said. “There’s a whole bunch of levels to the marketing mix here. There are people that come for the stadium, kind of like people who go to Wrigley. There’s people that come here for the baseball, we’ve got the longest affiliation in minor league baseball, we’ve been with the Phillies since 1967. Mike Schmidt played his first game here. The other part of our mix is families, and groups,” and of course, the giveaways.

The promotions include a now famous Ryan Howard Garden Gnome, a Vance Worley Garden Gnome, a dual-headed Howard bobblehead (the second head being that of one of their “crazy hot dog vendor”), and a Carlos Ruiz “Chooching Train.” They’ve even got Gluttony Night, where concessions are all you can eat.

In July, the team will host the Baseballtown All-Star Classic game, as well as a home run derby, that is unlike anyone has ever seen. Fans in the VIP area will be able to sit on the infield during the hitting challenge while protected by a giant net (see video).

Tickets for the Reading Phillies are available on their website.

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