E-Twins catch funding check for safety campaign participation

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Minor league baseball continues to pay major dividends to the Elizabethton Twins' bottom line.
   The Governor's Highway Safety Office presented the Elizabethton Twins administration with a check for $8,975 for their participation in the state's "Click It or Ticket" and "Booze It and Lose It" nights during the 2002 season.
   "It feels so good to be able to do something and use it for the facilities," said Mike Mains, general manager of the E-Twins. "Receiving a check for almost $9,000 is a great reward and will help improve the recreational needs we find in our community."
   The state's campaign gave the E-Twins 10,000 baseballs and noisemakers to give to fans. Elizabethton police officers conducted demonstrations relating to seat belt safety, drunk driving and other public safety topics as part of the campaign events.
   Twins players also made public appearances in city and county schools signing hundreds of baseballs for students.
   All eight minor league teams in the state participated in the program. The program was designed to make the public aware of highway safety issues -- most prominently that 70 percent of people killed in traffic accidents in Tennessee were not wearing seat belts..
   Mains also touted the E-Twins popularity as an economic and civic draw for the community.
   Ticket sale revenues climbed from $8,900 in 2001 to over $13,000 last season. The organization also saw concession and souvenir revenues more than double from $13,000 in 2000 to over $33,000 during the 2002 season.
   "We drew close to 25,000 people last season," Mains said. "We broke our all-time attendance record."
   According to Mains -- who also serves as the city of Elizabethton's parks and recreation director -- the funds could be used to improve Orr Field where roughly 50 athletic teams play during the year.
   The Elizabethton Twins recently signed a new four-year contract with their parent organization in Minneapolis that will keep the team playing at Joe O'Brien Field through 2006. Mains said Major League Baseball had tabled talks of contracting the league -- which included the possible end of the Minnesota Twins franchise -- until 2006.
   The Minnesota Twins won the American League central division and made the playoffs last season.
   "It's hard to contract a team that could be competing for the World Series this year," said Mains.