East Lansing is like many college towns in the United States— when the stress of finals week is over many of the students who populated the town leave for home or internships.
For the students who are in town, many summers have included a night or afternoon at Cooley Law School Stadium for a Lansing Lugnuts game.
The Lugnuts are the triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and offer beer and other food deals throughout the week that radio broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler said are a key to attracting students on a budget.
Thursday night is known as “Thirsty Thursday” where beers cost $2. Friday and Saturday offer firework shows at the end of the night.
Goldberg-Strassler said these are the nights when they see the highest student attendance.
“The MSU student population has made this a hit,” he said. “It’s been huge, and after all, who doesn’t love fireworks?”
Goldberg-Strassler has been working with the Lugnuts since 2009 and said when he first got to Lansing the attendance numbers were the largest, but around 2013 those figures started to dip.
It isn’t the record of the team, he said, but it’s because when a new class of students arrive at MSU they might not know of different of things to do in Lansing.
“Coming into your freshman year, you only know what’s around campus,” he said. “It’s all about spreading awareness about what is available just down the road from East Lansing.”
Students going to games is a spontaneous event for many games,.Goldberg-Strassler said. The team experiences more walk-up ticket purchases for weekend games or nice weather days than games during the week.
“Students will say, ‘it’s 7 o’clock, why don’t we go to a Lugnuts game?” Goldberg-Strassler said.
For people who work for the Lugnuts, the students are accepted and appreciated because they bring more energy to the ballpark than other people from Lansing and East Lansing.
“Student fans are definitely louder,” he said.
The area around the stadium has seen development as well to add to the experience for students going to games.
The Nuthouse Sports Grill is a bar that is across the street from the stadium. General manager Jason Evans said he has noticed new bars and apartments that are starting to surround the stadium and give students more options after the game.
“Ten years ago when I was 21 or 22 and running around, it was a nice change to get out of East Lansing bars for the night,” he said. “Just experience something different.”
Evans has been with The Nuthouse for nine years and said Thursdays there is a clear demographic shift to a younger crowd.
“Before and after every game we’re pretty busy,” he said. “Thirsty Thursday is a younger demo for the two dollar beers.”
The Nuthouse also offers two dollar beer cans on Thursday nights.
The appeal of spending a summer day or night going to a Lugnuts game is simple, according to Goldberg-Strassler said.
“It’s something to do on a beautiful day.”