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- 2008 - April - 17th -

Bow ties and baseball

David Chapman

Cubicles, fax transmittals and a can of soup. Fresh air, box scores and hot dogs.

Many would see the pairings as complete opposites, but Jacksonville Suns officials are hoping people see the second grouping as a cure from the midweek mundane.

The organization’s first “Businessperson Special” of the season Wednesday was a workweek panacea for many of the fans in attendance who decided to take an extended lunch, conduct business at the park or just take an afternoon off altogether.

“It’s the middle of the week, which means it’s a great time to get out of the office, get some sunshine and watch some Jacksonville Suns baseball,” said Casey Nichols, director of sales and promotions for the team. “It’s a pretty good deal.”

The $14 “Businessperson Special” gets fans a home plate box seat, hot dog and large drink. The promotion runs most Wednesdays during the season, said Nichols, with the hope that it appeals to some workers looking to get out for an afternoon.

For three Downtown workers, the promotion did just that.

“I’ve known about them for a while,” said Paul Castillo, who works with the U.S. Department of Labor in Downtown. “There is plenty of interest in our office about them.”

Castillo said he has been to numerous Suns games over the years, but it was the first time for associates James Johnson and Hayward Hesslup. The three caught the Sunflower Trolley shortly after noon on Pearl Street and took it all the way to the Baseball Grounds in time for the 1:05 first pitch. All three were going because of the promotion.

“We have flexible hours so it’s really no trouble for us having time,” said Johnson. “If the weather is right, we’ll come back.”

Others had to be a little sneakier.

“Actually, we’re kind of taking an ‘extended’ lunch,” said one man with a friend, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of workplace repercussion. “It was too nice a day to not come though, especially since it’s close to Downtown. They (bosses) don’t exactly know we’re here.”

For SunTrust Bank branch managers Josh Haskell and Bill Scaggs, attending the game wasn’t just for pleasure — it’s a viable networking opportunity and a way to better communicate with clients.

“Not all business has to be done in the office,” said Haskell. “Sometimes getting a client out of the office and into an environment like this can get people to open up a little bit better.”

It was the first Businessperson Special for the two, who were informing people about an American Cancer Society Relay for Life run on Saturday.

“Using a forum like this really is helpful for getting the word out about things,” said Scaggs. “And it doesn’t hurt that it’s at a baseball game.”

Even though the promotion doesn’t mean you have to dress in business attire, several did dress the part in the name of work.

“I like to meet other people and talk business,” said bow tie-clad Kevin Southerland, an insurance salesman with New York Life. “It’s the first one of the season and it is a great opportunity to meet new clients. Not a bad lunch, either.”

Southerland said he worked during the morning, took in the game and had further meetings Wednesday afternoon.

For those who couldn’t make it out of the office, fear not. The next Jacksonville Suns Businessperson Special is April 30 at 1:05 p.m.

For more information, visit www.jacksonvillesuns.com.

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