By Travis LeFevre
After a two-year hiatus, the Niagara Power pulled off an 8-3 win against the Genesee Rapids at their home opener on Saturday, June 2. Starting pitcher Conrad Voss had seven strikeouts during the game, which remained tied 1-1 from the top of the third inning until the bottom of the sixth. That's when the Power scored five runs and finished off the victory.
Before the start of the game, there was a moment taken to honor the late Doug Smith, who was a well-known columnist for the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union-Sun & Journal and a popular public address announcer for the Niagara Power in the team's first iteration.
"He felt that the Power epitomized the type of folks who played for the love of the game," said Joe Smith, Doug's son.
The press box at Sal Maglie Stadium has been named after Doug to honor his memory and legacy.
The Power's first run was from 2007 until the team ceased to operate in 2015. A year and a half ago, the squad was acquired by Niagara University, which began to revitalize the team.
Kurt Stahura, Ph.D., a professor and dean of the College of Hospitality & Tourism Management, said this was an opportunity for the university to become more involved in the community.
"We have a theoried and practiced approach at our school, but we also are very committed to the downtown Niagara Falls area and for tourism development and stoking the economic flames," Stahura said.
The volunteers for the Power operate the marketing, concessions and ticket sales. They are students of Niagara University and do it as a hands-on experience for summer course credits.
"Our students have worked really hard to put this experience together and that's what we're trying to do," Stahura said. "(We're trying) to provide a family-friendly experience for people in downtown Niagara Falls."
"We always envisioned that we could use this as a learning lab for a lot of our sport management students. I think we're doing a great job. This is a first-class operation," said Mike Gentile, the coordinator of Niagara's sport management program. "We've been involved with the Power since its inception."
In the past, the sport management department would supply the former owner, Cal Kern, with interns and other gameday helpers. Throughout the process of bringing the Power back and restoring the stadium, the sport management department has kept in close contact with Kern.
The Power has more than two-dozen games left between now and July 22. The season can extend to July 30 if the Power makes it into the top three teams of their division, qualifying them for the playoffs.
Season tickets can be purchased online at www.niagarapower.com
. Prices vary based on the person: $60 for adults, $25 for seniors (age 55-plus) and students (13-plus), and free admission for children 12 and under. There is also a family bundle for $100.