News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

April 16, 2014

Rex looking to expand fan base in 2014

TERRE HAUTE — Bruce Rosselli, part of the new Terre Haute Rex ownership group as well as the team’s general manager, hopes to build the fan base in the first year.

The Rex, who have returning sponsorships from Clabber Girl, Union Hospital and Old National Bank, among others, want to appeal to more baseball fans from outside Vigo County.

One way is to reward students from around the Wabash Valley who achieve perfect attendance in school with tickets to the Rex games.

“We’re still Terre Haute Rex, but we’re changing the tagline to ‘Rex Baseball: Wabash Valley’s own’,” Rosselli said. “Our sponsors are glad to hear that. We’d love to have Edgar County, Vermillion County, Sullivan County, Parke and Clay Counties feel like this is their team as well.”

The Rex saw their attendance plateau the past two seasons after averaging more than 1,000 fans in 2011.

“There’s no reason we can’t double our numbers from 1,000 to 1,500 per game,” Rosselli said. “If we can spread our wings out there, we can get some of those customers that already come to Terre Haute to eat and shop to come to our ball game. We’re recognizing those specific towns. We want to roll out some of our ideas.”

Rosselli has sought out other collegiate summer league teams as models for making improvements for patrons of the Rex.

“We’re trying to mirror some other teams. The Madison Mallards bring in 6,000 fans every game and they don’t have a college team [at University of Wisconsin],” Rosselli said.

The Rex can build off the success of ISU baseball and the summer team can benefit from improvements at Bob Warn Field.

The Rex will have access to two new field-level suites that Indiana State built this spring in preparation to host the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

Rosselli is working with sponsors and potential sponsors on game-day giveaways.

“Whether it’s a wooden bat, battery-operated fans or all night free popcorn, we’re working with them to do something baseball oriented,” Rosselli said.

Sponsors are relied upon heavily, Rosselli said, especially with Terre Haute serving as host for the Prospect League All-Star team for the first time. That is a $15,000 expense for the team as 60 players will be in Terre Haute to play in front of a gathering of Major League scouts.

Rosselli said J.T. Jeffries, on the microphone last season for on-field promotions, is working to bring in talented entertainers to sing the national anthem.

The Rex will have a new concessions menu. Rosselli hopes to work in conjunction with local not-for-profit organizations to help run the concessions and take away a portion of the profits for a certain chunk of the team’s 30-game home schedule at Bob Warn Field.

“Everybody that’s on board, it’s about the community, especially the children,” Rosselli said.

On the field, the Rex will have four Indiana State players that could help the team tremendously.

Tony Rosselli is showing promise as an underclassmen with two doubles and a home run, Landon Curry will give the Rex one of the top lead-off men in the league and Brad Lombard (6-0, 2.75 ERA) has been the Sycamores’ No. 2 starting pitcher.

Helping ISU players develop for Sycamores’ coach Mitch Hannahs is a huge benefit of the Rex, Rosselli emphasized.

“When you’re helping the Rex, you’re helping the ISU Sycamores, who are having a fantastic season,” Rosselli said of the 24-10 ISU team.

The Rex have also signed former Terre Haute South standout pitcher Damon Olds, who is playing for Lincoln Trail College this spring.

Manager Bobby Segal, who is an assistant coach at Wabash Valley, saw Olds in action this spring and added him to the Rex rotation.

Other Rex pitchers include ISU’s Jeff Degano, 6-foot-4, 215-pound Western Michigan starter Chad Mayle (4-2, 2.94 ERA) and Southern Illinois reliever Austin McPheron (1-1, 2.87 ERA).

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