During the 2016 season, the team solicited suggestions for a new name online and ended up with six finalists from 1,500 submitted. Rumble Ponies won out over other seemingly bizarre choices like Stud Muffins, Timber Jockeys and Rocking Horses, which some fans found difficult to accept. These four options were, in fact, all in reference to the area’s impressive collection of antique carousels.
“People have complained about the name, those who don’t come to the ballpark,” Cyndy Healy, a season-ticket holder since 2004, said. “But I ask them, ‘Do you know what a Rumble Pony is?’ It’s the strongest steed on the carousel. We have carousels, and that’s what we want to be.”
Hughes admitted the name change was divisive, but he wanted to do something that would at least engage the fan base.
“I don’t even mind the haters,” Hughes said. “My biggest fear would have been if everybody would have said, ‘Well, I don’t care.’ Indifference was our enemy. And so that’s why I said, ‘Let’s find out how passionate our fan base is and let’s get this started.’ And, I mean, people responded.”
The other priority was improving the fan experience at the stadium, with a focus on renovating the concession areas, which included a party deck in right field that opened for the 2017 season. Binghamton’s average of 3,289 fans in 2017, while still last in the league, was its highest since 2007, and in August the city was selected to host the 2020 Eastern League All-Star Game.
“John Hughes has put a lot of money and effort into making this place a lot of fun,” William Koehler, the Rumble Ponies’ director of food and beverage, said. “It’s like the icing on the cake, having Tebow here, and having people say, ‘Hey, let’s go see Tebow,’ and then see what we’ve done. It’s kind of rewarding.”