GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The Greenville Drive’s 15th anniversary season opener was going to be full of all the sights and sounds associated with spring baseball. But instead on April 9th, initial opening day, only an empty Fluor Field will be on display.
“Usually in a case like this when there’s been some type of national event, people have sports to fall back onto to at least get away from whatever else is going on,” said Greenville Drive General Manager Eric Jarinko. “We’re kind of in unprecedeted times where we don’t even have that right now.”
Minor League Baseball followed suit with the rest of the sports world postponing events sending the Greenville Drive into a state of limbo as questions loom about the fate of the impending season.
“We”ve got 33 other full time staff members, we’ve got close to 300 gameday employees as well,” Jarinko said. “So to me the importance is staying in constant communication with them , keeping the morale high, making sure they understand there will be baseball at some point.”
The offices at Fluor Field have been almost entirely vacant with most staffers working remotely. And even for an experienced general manager like Jarinko, who’s been with the team since its inception, this is uncharted territory.
“We’ve never been in a position like this,” said Jarinko. “I know how the nation was impacted in ’08/’09 with the recession and things like that. But again you had an outlet, you had sports, you had Minor League Baseball.”
But despite the current situation there was still some good to come out of the postponement.
“In talking with our executive chef yesterday we had a lot of perishable items still on hand from events coming up that that are no longer occurring, they’d been pushed back to a later date, and it was his idea to kind of reach out to, whether it’s Greenville County Schools or some of the other restaurants that are providing free meals to kids that need them right now, and donating all that product so they can use it,” Jarinko said. “We were able to get that into the hands of a couple different locations yesterday and they’re able to use that immediately.”
The Drive hope to take the field in mid May in conjuction with the major leagues,
“When that day comes we’re going to be ready and honestly we can’t wait to open the gates back up for our fans,” said Jarinko.
But until then a quiet Fluor Field awaits.