The Major League Baseball season begins this Sunday as the St. Louis Cardinals meet the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The historic field is undergoing extensive renovations much like Quincy University Stadium is. With that in mind, I took the opportunity to ask one of the new owners of the Quincy Gems, Terry Martin, a few questions about the upcoming Gems season which begins May 27.  

When did the Quincy Gems play their first game ever?                                    

June of 1996

Who has managed the Quincy Gems since June of 1996?                    

Chris Barney, Ryan Brownlee and Chris Martin

Being a new owner of the Gems, what are some of the challenges you have run in to?  

I would say some of the unexpected costs that have been involved with the ownership of the team and the time involved on getting things ready for the upcoming season. Examples: Having to be responsible for the part of the new "turface" that has been installed at Q.U.Stadium. This has also tripled the cost to us on doing fireworks as we have to have specialty fireworks that will not damage the "turface" on both the new football field or baseball infield. The time involved with the everyday planning of operations. Such as but not the only things, employee hiring, the fees that are structured into the owning of the team from the league, the hours of contacting new and existing sponsors and working out solutions to their needs and wants, the scheduling of the season within the league (game dates for certain teams, travel time with expansion, etc.) and for our sponsors needs, the implementation of new ideas that cost money and require help from the businesses  within our community.  These are all things that we were conscious of when we purchased the team, but were surprised at the amount of time and resources that have to go into the planning and running of the team. We found the running of the team cannot be accomplished in a 3 or 4 month period. It is something that in many facets has to be accomplished year round and we are prepared to put the time and effort into it, but the hours and money has been somewhat a surprise to this point. I must add at this point, we would not be able to make this a  successful endeavor without some of the great sponsors we have on board at this time.

Can you name some of the past Quincy Gems that have made it all the way to the Major Leagues?

We have had many players that have played for the Gems that have gone on to play in professional baseball but maybe only a handful at this time that I can recall, have had a chance to play at the Major League level.  Jeff Urban (Giants), Adam Rosales (Cincinnati, Oakland & now Texas), Josh Rabe (Minnesota), Brian Bullington (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toronto & Kansas City) and Neil Cotts (Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Texas and now Milwaukee) come to mind.  We have had many afforded the opportunity to sign professional contracts, with Coach Chris Martin (Yankees) one in that fold.

What was last year's season attendance?

We drew a little over 32,000 people in 2014 for 30 home games and 2 playoff games at an average of about 1,065 people a game.

What new features can Gem's fans expect to see this year?                          

Besides the new astro turf infield for 2015, the fans will be greeted with a brand new state of the art digital scoreboard and a kids zone that we hope to have running in the right field corner of the stadium.  This will give parents with little children a chance to drop off their kids into an intern sponsored area and then let the parents enjoy the game. We are also hoping to have brand new restrooms and a concession area with a coaches office completed by the start of the season or shortly after the season starts. This will be a big plus in comfort for our fans and a much needed addition. We also are running the Mountain Dew Deck down the left field line a little differently this year. It is going to be called the Mountain Dew Dollar Deck and single game tickets, (if available) can be purchased for $12.00 each. The Dew Deck will be fitted with all new sling back chairs.  People can purchase season tickets for the Mountain Dew Deck at $250.00 for the  season or upgrade their existing $5.00 ticket by adding $7.00 to their admission cost for a game. Everything on the deck would be sold for $1.00 each, That would include, bottle soda, draft beer, hot dogs, bratwurst, nachos, and popcorn. Sunday will still be considered family night and our local Hy-Vee stores are sponsoring family night with the same deal as last year. People shopping at any of the local Hy-Vee stores will be allowed up to 4 free tickets on Sunday night by bringing their receipt from Hy-Vee to the Sunday night game. People will also notice that the merchandise trailer will be gone, and replaced with a new smaller trailer to make room for the new bathrooms going in the stadium. We also plan on moving the Bud Deck down the first base line closer to the visitors dugout and cutting it down in size. It will not be known as the Bud Deck and at the moment we are not sure of the name but maybe the Gems Picnic Deck. We have cut admission cost to $5.00 a ticket for adults and added a student ticket at $3.00 for students from 6 to 17 years of age.  Kids 5 and under are free. As you can see, lots of changes and changes we hope will prove to be fan and family friendly and an exciting venue to watch a Quincy Gems game.