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Frank Boulton – Founder & CEO -LI Ducks at Betpage Ballpark
April 8, 2011 @ 12:00 am EDT
This morning’s meeting was held at Bethpage Ballpark, home of the Long Island Ducks.(Actually located in Central Islip) Frank Boulton, founder and CEO of the Ducks was our speaker. The Duck Club is where we held the meeting. The room overlooks the ballpark from the perspective of behind home plate. It has a great view of the field from behind a glass wall exposure. The tables are set up as in a restaurant and the variety of food is served. According to Boulton the offerings ranges from a steak to chicken wings. Frank then went over the history of the club and it is an interesting story.
After meeting with his friend Bud Harrelson they decided that a Minor League team would work well for Long Island. They approached the NY Yankees and the NY Mets to see if either of those franchises would sanction a Minor League outpost on Long Island. Neither of those teams were interested. Undaunted, Boulton and Harrelson decided to create not only a new team, but also a new league.
They entered into a public- private partnership with the County of Suffolk and the Ducks were born. They have been a great success ever since they made their first quack.
The county owns the ballpark but the enterprise is self-sustaining and doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. The vision of Boulton and Harrelson was to have an affordable family experience that was similar in cost to a night at the movies. That notion caught the imagination of many and they sell out the season tickets and often sell standing room only tickets. The way that works is that there are often empty seats that are prepaid, and they allow the empty seats be filled with the SRO crowd, a practice that would be frowned upon at Yankee Stadium or probably any Major League Park. But this is Long Island and it’s more like friends and neighbors sharing the same sand lot.
Mr. Boulton shared some stories and events that they hold at the park. One of the events is the competition to sing the national anthem. Rank amateurs are out there singing their hearts out and some of them are quite good and the competition lends to the fun of the place.
Boulton also spoke about his affiliation with the Boulton Theater, a performing arts center. He purchased and renovated the theater, and gave it to the local YMCA. He retains no management or ownership in the theater. His good friend and celebrated sportscaster Bob Wolf will be holding a book tour event at the Boulton Theater on April 21st. Wolf is now 90 years old but I remember him as part of the regular team doing the sports on News 12. This is Mr. Wolf’s fourth book.
It is places like this that keep Long Island from being a cultural desert. And while I still have an opportunity to dump another one of my bad puns. This team is everything it’s quacked up to be. Thanks Frank.