Reds affiliate sets sellouts record

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Dayton Dragons have set the record for consecutive sellouts by a pro franchise in North America -- and there is no end in sight.

An overflow crowd of 8,688 witnessed the 815th straight sellout at Fifth Third Field on Saturday night, when the Dragons surpassed the mark set by the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers from 1977-95.

"This is more important than just the Dayton Dragons," general manager Gary Mayse said. "This is about the fans, community base, the businesses, the mothers, the fathers, the kids that come day in and day out to support us. It's a remarkable event."

When the game against South Bend became official after five innings, it was stopped for an on-field ceremony that triggered a long standing ovation. Streamers in the team's green and gold colors were released over the crowd and many were left blowing in the breeze on the backstop. The Dragons are planning a larger celebration for July 23.

The Dragons, a Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds in the Midwest League, have sold out every home game since their founding in 2000. With all 7,230 seats sold, the rest of the crowd took in the game from the grassy hill beyond the right-field wall.

The Dragons aren't about to let the record give them a reason to relax. With more than 8,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets, the streak doesn't look likely to end anytime soon.

"I can't imagine Dayton baseball not being a sold-out situation," said team president Bob Murphy. "The energy here, whether it's a Friday night, a Saturday night or a Monday or Tuesday, April or August, it's the one thing that I think really separates us."

The Dragons are owned by Mandalay Baseball, which counts NBA great Magic Johnson and Ohio State football legend Archie Griffin among its investors. Art Matin has been Mandalay's CEO for four years, and he said it was emotional to watch Dragons executives celebrate with their families.

"Nothing happened here by accident," Matin said. "They care deeply about the community, about their fans, making sure everybody has a great time at the ballgame. And it's a wonderful accomplishment for the city."

Other than the ceremony and 815 painted alongside the Dragons logo on the field, it was a typical night for the fan-friendly Dragons. There was the usual between-innings fun of a kids Big Wheel race around the bases, adults competing in a Hula Hoop relay and a toddler race. In the end, the fans also got to celebrate a 4-1 victory.

Eric Deutsch, the Dragons' vice president, said there was a vibe among the fans on the concourse during the game and that he saw two fans share a high-five.

"People are just so prideful of this," he said. "This is something that they've produced. Walking around they're congratulating me and I'm congratulating them right back."