The High Point Rockers opened their brand new downtown stadium in grand style on Thursday, May 2 with a 3-0 victory over the defending league champions on a night when seemingly everyone in the High Point area came out to watch the Rockers first home game in history.
“It’s a great day to be a High Pointer!” Bencini exclaimed, thrilled that the stadium was open and packed and that the weather was spot-on perfect.
The team and city pulled out all the stops for the historic opener: The game was preceded by speeches from city officials and team backers, which was followed by a blessing of the stadium, a ribbon-cutting with the obligatory giant scissors, music by the Sleeping Booty Band and an aerial descent of four paratroopers who jumped from a plane and landed in centerfield with smoke streams and a large American flag trailing behind them for further effect.
The Rockers first run ever was, fittingly, a home run, and the team ended up shutting out the Sugar Land Skeeters from Sugar Land, Texas on the picture-perfect night.
The events kicked off at 5 p.m. at the front gates of the stadium with about 30 minutes of speeches as well as acknowledgments of those who have contributed to the success of the project.
High Point University President Nido Qubein, who helped raise millions for the project, gave a speech in his usual animated style that drew a lot of applause. Qubein said that, in his 50 years in High Point, he had never ever seen the city come together in such an impressive and inspired way as it did to bring about the stadium. He said faith and courage were two critical elements in the equation.
About half of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners were present, though some High Point leaders are still miffed that the commissioners didn’t vote to help fund the project as High Point leaders had requested. Interestingly, Commissioner Carlvena Foster, a commissioner who was in favor of county funding for the stadium, had a ticket for a luxury box, while those commissioners who did not back the stadium were in regular seats.
There were a few opening night snafus as can be expected with the launch of any project of such a major scale. Some water fountains weren’t working; the PA system had a major echo effect for the first few minutes; the game got off to a late start and the parking for media was more distant than one might hope.
However, all in all, the night was a spectacular success, and Qubein nailed down in his speech the key to future success. He said the people of High Point needed to continue to come out night after night – not just on opening night. Qubein even suggested during his speech that those who bought four season tickets were more likely to make it into heaven than those who did not.