By Andrew Green
The Tennessee Smokies announced the creation of Smokies Hospitality, establishing a new commitment to add to the first-class fan experience at Smokies Stadium. The team has also announced several changes to their front office staff, including the promotion of Assistant General Manager Jeff Shoaf to the role of General Manager of Smokies Hospitality.
“Jeff has shown he is a true leader throughout his tenure here with the Smokies,” said Smokies Vice President Chris Allen. “We’re very excited for him and the opportunity through this new role to continue to improve our stadium experience with his proven leadership.”
2015 will be Shoaf’s 21st season with the Smokies after beginning with the club as an intern in 1995. Following that season he was promoted to Director of Group Sales (1996-1999) before being named Director of Community Relations in 2000, and then serving as Director of Marketing and Communications from 2002-2004. Shoaf would go on to be promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2005.
In addition to Shoaf, Smokies Hospitality will also be comprised of Director of Food and Beverage Brandon Roberts, Director of Merchandise Matt Strutner, and Hospitality Manager Patrick “Chuck” Lunsford. Roberts joined the Smokies during the 2014 season, while Strutner has worked for the franchise for a total of eight seasons in a variety of roles, and Lunsford has served for ten years in various gameday capacities.
After making various enhancements to their food and beverage department in recent years, including the popular addition of Calhoun’s At The Yard during the 2014 season, Smokies Hospitality will oversee more improvements for the 2015 season and beyond. Plans for the upcoming campaign include a newly developed partnership with Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants to take over operations in a freshly renovated Double Play Cafe, new food and beverage carts throughout the concourse, and drink rails lining the outside of the seating bowl. The Smokies have also undergone a successful re-branding of their logos and word marks during this off season, with Shoaf playing a large role in the creation process along with Studio Simon.
Last season’s improvements helped the Smokies experience a 15% growth in attendance from the previous season, and set a single-season attendance record by welcoming 283,038 fans through the turnstiles of Smokies Stadium. The club would go on to be named the Don Mincher Organization of the Year by the Southern League following the 2014 campaign.
The club is slated to begin the 2015 campaign on the road against the Mississippi Braves, the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, on Thursday, April 9, before returning to Tennessee to begin their 2015 home slate on Wednesday, April 15 versus the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Season ticket and multi-game voucher plans are currently available and can be purchased online at www.smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.
The Tennessee Smokies are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the ten-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America’s national pastime in the East Tennessee region for over 100 years.