RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s Flying Squirrels baseball team is in preparation mode for the upcoming season launching on April 7. For the first time, the Squirrels urge spectators to leave the cash behind. They’ll have to use credit or debit cards to purchase food, drinks, tickets, and parking.
Flying Squirrels CEO, Todd Parnell, described how this transition is designed to enhance the fan experience — making lines move faster and increasing overall efficiency.
“43 days, 42 days, 41 days, 40 days,” Parnell laughed as he counted down the days until the new season. “Richmond is a special place, full of special people, doing special things.”
It’s the same beloved Richmond team, the same stadium, but a new policy.
“It kept coming up, time and time again, that cashless was better for the fans,” Parnell explained.
This isn’t an unusual change. According to Parnell, more and more venues and attractions — not just across the state, but the country — are transitioning to accepting cards only.
“All over the region, even music venues around here,” Parnell started. “[It’s] credit card, credit card, credit card.”
Since 2013, Parnell and the team have noticed a noteworthy decline in the use of cash at games. While the Squirrels’ CEO didn’t have an exact statistic, he said the change has been drastic as people reach for the cards over cash.
In addition to expediting the game entry process, the switch was introduced for sanitation purposes. As we continue to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring the use of credit cards minimizes contact with bacteria-ridden coins and bills.
Parnell emphasized a devotion to awareness — listening to what works and what doesn’t. He said the team has been working on finding ways to make concessions and check-in lines move quicker.
“The many teams that have made this transition to card-only or cashless operations … their fan experience after they’ve done it has been better across the board,” He noted.
Not everyone is convinced this idea is a grand slam. Some fans expressed concern over the logistics of sending a child to a game without the parent present. One woman explained how she isn’t ready to send her credit card with her young son to a game with friends. Parnell said the team plans to actively work with fans to ensure no such issues arise.
“Don’t worry ma’am,” Parnell said, before explaining how the team will leave room for certain promotions to address concerns. The CEO also highlighted how it’s still early in the game and the Squirrels’ plan to figure out ways to prevent technical issues or have backup plans in place to make sure to facilitate as smooth an experience as possible for game attendees.
He also clarified that no service charges or additional fees will be added. The transition to a cashless venue will not raise prices for fans. While the response to the decision has been fairly divided, Parnell said the policy is set to benefit the majority of fans.
“When you have 415,000 fans, you try to please every single one of them and you have to adapt in certain cases,” He said.
The new policy will begin this baseball season on April 7 and the Squirrels have already seen record-high group ticket sales and the team anticipates an exciting season ahead. Parnell also added that most modern stadiums are designed with this policy in mind, so making the transition now will help prepare people for when the team does get its new, revamped, stadium estimated for 2025.