In just their first year of existence, the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes baseball team made it to the playoffs and were voted the best local sports team by Illinois Times readers.
"We had a very exciting inaugural season, for sure," said Jamie Toole, who leads the team with his wife, Melissa Gaynor. "It was pretty good. We actually made the playoffs."
The team he leads may be the first one in the history of American sports named after an open-faced sandwich.
They received hundreds of suggestions for what to name the team that they and several other investors acquired earlier this year. But they settled on naming it after a uniquely Springfield cuisine.
Average game attendance has been 1,300 this year.
"We have a lot of sponsors and a lot of ticket buyers and groups," Toole said. "I think next season will be – I don't want to say easier – but a little less challenging, because this time we won't be coming to a new community and not really know anyone. The ballpark is a big ballpark – 5,000 seats. Our goal is to significantly grow in 2023, and we're off to a great start with our season ticket renewals already."
The team has also profited from Lucky Horseshoe-branded merchandise.
"We sold merchandise all over the country – all 50 states. We've been really, really pleased with our merchandise sales," he said.
The Horseshoes are part of the Prospect League, a summer collegiate wood bat baseball league for players with college eligibility. The league considers providing family-friendly, affordable baseball entertainment in the communities where its teams are located as one of its important purposes, and the Horseshoes' 30-game season featured many promotion nights, including fireworks and live entertainment.
The new owners are also focused on making improvements to Robin Roberts Stadium, where the team plays, next to Lanphier High School. The scoreboard located at the left-center field wall has been modernized, and a new beer garden along the right field line features beer from local craft brewers including a homegrown product, Lucky Lager. Work is also underway on an indoor Stadium Club that will be located in the team offices and will allow for private parties, press announcements and other non-baseball events, and a new, all-weather playing field is in the long-range plan.