DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — For the Danville Otterbots, inclusivity has always been their top priority.
“We strive to have something for everybody. We really want our ballpark to be somewhere where baseball fans and non-baseball fans can come,” said Danville Otterbots General Manager Austin Scher.
That’s why Scher and his team found a way to help those who may need a break from the sometimes overwhelming and noisy moments of a baseball game.
“There are a lot of noises, there are a lot of lights, there are a lot of sounds, and for those with sensory sensitivities, it was not a welcoming place,” Scher explained. “And we can’t say that we have something for everybody if we don’t have something for everybody, so we partnered with the Hughes Center, had Columbia Forest products donate some materials, had a contractor work tirelessly over a six month span to make the ballpark sensory room a reality.”
American Legion Field is one of five minor league ballparks in the country that has a sensory room. The area comes equipped with plenty of padding, sound-deading headphones, fidget toys, boards, cuddle swings, and blackout curtains.
Even though the ribbon-cutting for the sensory room was held less than two months, the Otterbots are already receiving feedback from not just Danville, but throughout the East Coast.
“Hearing from families from specifically Maryland, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina that reached out either by direct reply on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or in direct message or email saying ‘I have wanted to take my family to a baseball game and have not been able to. We will be coming to Danville to see the Otterbots and it’s because of the sensory room,'” said Scher.
For the Otterbots’ general manager, the project was a labor of love for a community that he cares so much about.
“We don’t do this to sell tickets, right? That’s not why we’re in this business. We do this to put smiles on faces… Being able to have somewhere where now all families and people that again love baseball, hate baseball, are indifferent to baseball have somewhere to come is truly remarkable,” Scher told WFXR News.