SOUTH BEND — Families want the most bang for their entertainment buck.
A night or afternoon at a baseball park often fits the bill.
That's where the South Bend Silver Hawks come in.
On most days, it will cost a family of four (two adults and two children) $68 to take in Class-A Midwest League baseball game and the other amenities at downtown Four Winds Field (formerly Coveleski Regional Stadium).
That's $5 to park, $9 each for tickets, $3 each for hot dogs and $3.75 each for a small soft drink.
But there are ways to stretch dollars further and there's something happening each day of the home calendar.
Mondays: The Hawks also offer Belly Buster Mondays where $15 buys each fan a game ticket and all-you-can-eat hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn and peanuts.
Tuesdays: Triple Play Tuesdays feature a game ticket, hot dog and a drink for $10.
Wednesdays: Kids 12 and younger get a voucher at the gate for a free hot dog, chips and a drink.
Thursdays: On Thirsty Thursdays fans can get $2 22-ounce soft drinks and 16-ounce beers throughout the game.
Fridays: There is a fireworks show after every Friday home game.
Saturdays: Fans 18 and older can enter to win a new flat screen TV. A TV is given away each inning of the game.
Sundays: Sundays are Family Day and Swoop Troop Day at Four Winds Field. Fans can have a pre-game catch on the field and get post-game autographs.
This is very competitive with other minor league and summer collegiate baseball destinations in the region (see chart below).
Music In the Air
Saturday, June 21, a non-game day, will bring the first B100 "South Bend Country Fest" to the park with headliner Big & Rich plus Jo Dee Messina and other acts.
Fireworks, Food and More
Besides Fridays, fans wanting a literal bang for their buck can see fireworks on dates around July 4.
The Silver Hawks experience also includes plenty of food choices along with craft beers and wines.
Special guest appearances are scheduled for Steve Beuerlein (June 1), Tommy John (June 26), Jose Canseco (July 6) and Jack Morris (July 21).
Baseball's traveling clown prince, Myron Noodleman, is slated to visit Four Winds Field on Aug. 15.
One lucky mom will get a $2,000 diamond on Mother's Day (May 10).
For dog lovers, the Hawks offer appearances by Jake The Diamond Dog on June 14-15 and allow fans to bring their pooches to the stadium on Bark In The Park nights on April 27, June 15 (Father's Day) and Aug. 26 (also National Dog Day).
Theme Nights Galore
Other specialty nights abound. There's Strike Out Stroke Night (May 9), Pink In The Park (May 17-18), Military Appreciation Day (May 26), Princess In The Park (June 13), Independence Day Celebration (July 4-5), Irish Night (July 17), Christmas In July (July 18), Star Wars Night (July 19), Fan Appreciation Night (Aug. 16) and Fallen Heroes Night (Aug. 24).
Kids can cool off on hot days at the splash pad in right field. There are inflatables in the outfield. For the adults, there's a tiki bar in left field. All ages can enjoy a group outing (20 to 600) at various picnic and suite areas.
Group sales are brisk and Saturdays are quickly filling up. A non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a game date and seat location for a group of 20-or-more.
To order single-game tickets or for more information about all the happenings at Four Winds Field, call 574-235-9988 or visit www.silverhawks.com.
Here is a comparison of what it could cost for a family of four (two adults, two kids 12 and younger) to attend a baseball game at Four Winds Field in South Bend and other parks within a few hours of Elkhart.
Most teams, including the Silver Hawks, offer value nights and packages to bring costs down. The following numbers reflect cheapest game ticket, parking, regular soft drink and hot dog for a family of four (minus value discounts):
South Bend Silver Hawks — Single-A Pro, (Four Winds Field, 501 W. South St., South Bend; 235-9988): $68 ($5 parking included).
Northwest Indiana Oilmen — Summer Collegiate, (Oil City Stadium, 1700 119th St., Whiting; 219-659-1000): $40 (free parking).
Gary SouthShore RailCats — Independent Pro, (U.S. Steel Yard, One Stadium Plaza, Gary, next to Indiana Toll Road; 219-882-2255): $42 (free parking).
Fort Wayne TinCaps — Single-A Pro, (Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St., Fort Wayne; 260-482-6400): $44 ($4 parking included).
West Michigan Whitecaps — Single-A Pro, (Fifth Third Ballpark, 4500 W.River Dive, Comstock Park, Mich., near Grand Rapids; 616-784-4131): $51 ($6 parking included).
Indianapolis Indians — Triple-A Pro, (Victory Field, 501 W. Maryland St., Indianapolis; 317-269-3545): $59 ($5 parking included).
Lansing Lugnuts — Single-A Pro, (Cooley Law School Stadium, 505 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing Charter Township, Mich.; 517-485-4500): $71 ($5 parking included).
Kane County Cougars — Single-A Pro, (Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, 34W002 Cherry Lane, Geneva, Ill.; 630-232-8811): $72.50 ($5 parking included).