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Baseball America Selects Blue Wahoos as Organization of the Year

December 3, 2020 - Southern League (SL) - Pensacola Blue Wahoos News Release

Pensacola, FL - Baseball America announced Thursday that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos have been selected as the 2020 recipient of the Double-A Bob Freitas Award, given to the organization of the year at each level of the Minor Leagues.

"We're proud to have played a role in making our community a better place to live despite the challenges faced by all in 2020," team president Jonathan Griffith said. "We're so thankful for how Pensacola has rallied around our team, supporting us throughout a year without baseball and helping make Blue Wahoos Stadium a safe place for families to have fun. Our goal as an organization is to improve the quality of life in our community and that was our singular focus throughout 2020 knowing the difficulties families, businesses, and the community as a whole have faced this year."

The Blue Wahoos were Minor League Baseball's most active franchise during the 2020 year despite the cancelation of their season. The team hosted over 200 community events at the ballpark throughout the year, establishing affordable movie nights for families, and utilizing Blue Wahoos Stadium as a golf course, a frisbee golf course, flag football fields, a Crossfit competition site, a concert venue, and for high school graduations, dinners, fundraisers, and other events.

The team also transitioned Blue Wahoos Stadium into an Airbnb, becoming the first professional sports stadium in the world to be listed on the rental app. The stadium Airbnb hosted guests from 22 states across the country during the year and made national and international headlines, being featured in over 350 news outlets in seven countries.

Away from the ballpark, the Blue Wahoos were highly active in the community across Pensacola and northwest Florida, contributing over 1,000 hours of community service. Following Hurricane Sally, Blue Wahoos staff contributed over 600 hours clearing debris, helping clean downtown Pensacola, and working with individual families in need to clear their properties. The Blue Wahoos also established a staff volunteer program, allowing local non-profits to request volunteer staffing from Blue Wahoos employees.

The Blue Wahoos community involvement during the 2020 year was made possible by team ownership led by Quint and Rishy Studer. Despite the postponement of the season, Blue Wahoos ownership committed in May that no full-time staff would be laid off or furloughed in 2020, making the team one of the only professional sports franchises in the country that maintained their full staff in 2020.

"Our entire staff would like to thank Quint and Rishy Studer for their commitment to our employees and our community throughout the pandemic," Griffith said. "The decision to keep our full staff on throughout the year despite the baseball season being canceled may not have made sense financially. But, it was the right decision for our community, allowing our team to take an active role both in community service and to use our ballpark as a safe and fun place for families to gather."

The Bob Freitas Award completes an impressive triple crown of major awards for the Blue Wahoos in 2020. The team was selected as the Ballpark Digest Best-Double A Ballpark recipient in July and the winner of the Minor League Baseball Golden Bobblehead for Best Overall Promotion for the stadium Airbnb in September.

The Blue Wahoos previously received the Double-A Bob Freitas Award in 2016.

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Southern League Stories from December 3, 2020

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