Two more local craft breweries have joined the Flying Squirrels’ lineup.
Beers from Center of the Universe Brewing Co. and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery are now on tap at the Diamond. They join beers from Legend Brewing and Nelson County, Va.-based Star Hill, which the ballpark started selling last season.
The new recruits are part of the organization’s effort to tap into Richmond’s growing craft beer market and potentially help draw new fans to the Diamond, said Squirrels chief operating officer Todd Parnell.
“Just by looking at the lines at the games and communicating with fans, you can tell it has been very warmly received,” Parnell said.
Through the first 31 games, the ballpark is averaging about 6,100 people per game this season. Average attendance last season was 6,257.
The Squirrels worked with Brown Distributing, which represents Hardywood, Center of the Universe and Legend, to get the local drafts in the stadium.
Dave Sorokowski, director of sales at Brown, said the Diamond sold about 150 kegs of Legend and Star Hill last season. Craft beer prices at the stadium run about $6.25 for 14 ounces and $10 for 32 ounces.
“There was a huge demand for it,” Sorokowski said. “Sales were beyond anybody’s expectations. So we’re giving people the option to explore more local breweries, and we’ve had a huge response so far.”
Hardywood co-owner Eric McKay said he expects Squirrels fans to go through between 50 and 60 kegs of the brewery’s flagship Singel this season.
“I think there’s a strong, consumer-driven interest in craft beer at events like baseball games,” McKay said. “And it’s a really exciting opportunity for some cross-promotional events.”
McKay said Hardywood hopes to start selling cans of its Cream Ale at the Diamond this summer.
Center of the Universe’s Ray Ray’s Pale Ale is the Ashland brewery’s current offering at the ballpark.
With at least three new local breweries working to get up and running, Parnell sees continued potential for the Diamond’s beverage selection.
“I’m confident this is something we will continue and perhaps even expand in the future,” he said.