Cincinnati Reds’ fans who love pizza are in luck this season thanks to a red-hot streak from the baseball team’s pitching squad.
Whenever the Reds strike out 11 opposing players, Reds’ tickets holders for that game win a free small pizza, a roughly$6 value, from the city’s hometown favorite, LaRosa’s Pizzeria chain.
That equation is a great deal if you’re a Reds’ fan, considering the team has already recorded seven of the 11-man strikeouts just one month into the season, on its way to matching the total of 14 strikeouts for the entire last season.
It’s not so great of a deal if you’re LaRosa’s, considering the family-owned chain has already handed out more than $100,000 worth of free pizzas.
“Nobody is excited about giving away free food,” said Pete Buscani, LaRosa’s executive vice president of marketing.
But, when you’re a local business on the eve of marking your 60th anniversary in the town where you started, and marking the eighth season where you’ve served your pizzas in the Great American Ballpark where the Reds play, you’ll take the hit, with a smile.
“The fan reaction has been so positive and the positive word of mouth has even the toughest franchise owners saying this is the best promotion we’ve ever done,” said Buscani. “Our everyday objective is to reach out and make people smile and when they [fans] come to the pizzeria to get their pizzas, they’re smiling and so happy.”
Buscani estimates that around 15 to 20 percent of ticketholders on average redeem their prize each game, but with buzz building and the Reds on a hot streak, that average could soar.
“It’s an exciting experience at ballpark as it gets to eight, nine and ten strikeouts,” Buscani said. “You hear the buzz in the stadium. Kids jump out of their seats.”
Even the team’s pitchers and the team itself have gotten into action on social media, with pitchers like Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake tweeting after a pizza-winning game, according to Buscani.
“11 strikeouts. Free pizza in press box. Thanks!,” read the tweet from @Reds after the team’s win against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night.
“It’s great to be a part of that [fan excitement] and even greater to see the Reds have so much success,” Buscani said.
This is only the second season LaRosa’s has run the promotion and though Buscani expressed pleasure with the buzz it’s creating, when asked whether it would be become an annual tradition, he hesitated.
“We gotta get through this season first,” he said of the 162-game Major League Baseball schedule. “There’s a lot of season to get through.”