Friday-Aug. 27; $10-$20 opening day, $2-$20 throughout season; 4385 Tutt Blvd.;

In Colorado Springs, you don't have to like baseball to be a baseball fan. From April through August at Security Service Field, home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the games are as much about the experience as they are balls and strikes. This season's entertainment lineup includes 18 fireworks shows, music, mascots, games and giveaways. That and four months of our national pastime.

Jon Eddy, a die-hard baseball fan and the director of marketing and promotions for the Sky Sox, says his primary goal has little to do with player performance. "At the end of the day, I care more about people leaving the field smiling than I do with the scoreboard," he says.

To Eddy, his staff and numerous sponsors, the baseball field is a dance floor, a stage, the loading ground for fireworks and a place to celebrate local heroes. Eddy's team in marketing and promotions will be welcoming back successful events of years past, including an Independence Day celebration and day-of-the-week promotions, and also will be executing a bevy of new shows.

But it's not all fun and games. The promotional activities honor and celebrate heroic members of the community throughout the season. There are six military appreciation nights on the schedule, where players sport patriotic jerseys that later are auctioned off to benefit soldiers. Similarly, the proceeds of a charity softball game are allocated to victims of local wildfires.

In recent seasons, the team has garnered more fans than ever. In 2010, 5,000 people piled into the stadium for a game featuring the first Sky Fest, a fireworks show that has since become a tradition. In 2011, a "Star Wars"-themed Sky Fest drew 8,000 fans.

"The difference in attendance is huge, and it has a lot to do with entertainment," Eddy says, his voice echoing, as it does on the field when he takes the role of emcee.

The forecast for Friday's opener is 70 degrees and sunny. There will be baseball, peanuts, Cracker Jack and a host of other activities.

"I can't wait to finally see the fans again," Eddy says. "There's a lot to be excited about."

Rebecca Celli, The Gazette,