Donations also encouraged for military members to be admitted free to the games
Officials are gearing up for the third annual Freedom Classic to be held at Grainger Stadium in February.
Last year’s event drew about 4,000 people, despite a rain-out resulting in only two game days.
Jenny Inabinet, event chairwoman, said U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy players were so impressed last year, they wanted to come back.
“They were absolutely amazed at how they were treated,” she said, “and they said they’d like to come back for a third year.
“We would like them to come back, too.”
Inabinet said organizers are looking for sponsors for the three-day baseball series.
“I’m really excited about this event,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said. “Kinston is not a military town, but we pride ourselves on the support of our active duty and our veterans.”
New this year is a unique sponsorship that pays for military members’ tickets.
Anyone who would like to support military troops can contribute $20, which will pay for five service members to watch a game at no cost to them, Inabinet said.
Contributors will get their names written in a supporter list in the event’s program book.
Currently, officials at Camp Lejeune have said they have as many as 45 single Marines that would like to come, Inabinet said. Active duty airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and other military installations are encouraged to come to the games.
“We want to pack the park with 1,000 Marines, airmen or soldiers at each game,” said Bill Ellis, the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation director.
Inabinet added, “The key is, we have to have those supporters paying for them to come in.”
It’s recommended groups contact Inabinet at 252-939-3338.
Businesses and individuals are also encouraged to purchase sponsorship ads, including the three Red, White and Blue sponsorship levels.
Red level sponsors will get a box, which has nine seats, and recognition on the sponsor board. White level sponsors also receive a box seat, and the blue level receives four tournament passes.
“Becoming a sponsor helps ensure that we’re able to treat these young men to a first-class event in Kinston,” Murphy said, “and I would even encourage individuals and businesses to purchase tickets so we can give them away to active duty men and women.”
Parents of ball players are expected as far away as Hawaii andCalifornia, and veterans groups are coming from as far away asCharlotte, Ellis said.
“We’re always excited to have the Freedom Classic in Kinston,” he said. “It honors our veterans to recognize the academy ball players for what they do, and it’s just great baseball.”
What: 2013 third annual Freedom Classic
Who: Navy vs. Air Force
When: Feb. 22-24; games are at 6 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday; 12:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Historic Grainger Stadium
Cost: $5 adults; $4 seniors, active duty, retired military, veterans and students
For information about the Freedom Classic sponsorships or to donate for military members to attend free, call Jenny Inabinet at 252-939-3338.
Margaret Fisher can be reached at 252-559-1082 orMargaret.Fisher@Kinston.com. Follow her on Twitter at MargaretFishr.