Daredevils flying into Parkview Field
Nitro Circus performers set to make jumps using bikes, boards, recliners
It will be a bit of culture shock for fans at Parkview Field when Nitro Circus takes the field July 22, as Fort Wayne TinCaps officials say it is unlike any act that has performed at the downtown ballpark.
Imagine the X Games amped up on caffeine and at high speeds, and you have the Nitro Circus’ Good, Bad and Rad tour.
Part daredevil, part athlete, and mostly adrenaline-addicted performers will push the envelope with extreme sports champions, reality show participants, and thrill-seekers, keeping fans on the edge of their seats. There’s a Paralympian in the cast, too.
More or less, it’s labeled “extreme action sports.” It’s gravity-defying bikes, cycles, skateboards, and recliners. Yes, plop your butt down, sit back, legs up, and watch your favorite TV show recliners flying through the air with reckless abandon. You might even see motorized kids’ vehicles take a jump or two.
If it has wheels they’ll jump it, and if at first the jump doesn’t succeed, they’ll try, try again. Forget any talk of bumps and bruises and personal injuries.
If it doesn’t have wheels, well, they are likely to attach some. Motocross and X Games champion Travis Pastrana is part of the production’s ownership team.
Blake “Blinko” Williams, an international FMX motocross racer, is expected to be at Parkview Field.
“I can’t wait to hit the road with this insane new show,” he said in a statement. “The production team has really outdone themselves this time. Good, Bad & Rad definitely brings the crazy like only Nitro Circus can. We have some sick surprises in store for our North American fans, and to get ready, I’ve been working hard at R Willy Land cooking up some huge new tricks that I am so pumped to finally debut.”
R Willy Land is a Nitro Circus facility in Australia where they test their craziest tricks and stunts.
TinCaps Special Events Manager Holly Raney is heading up this show and other special events for the TinCaps. She’s taken by the show, which she says elicits an emotional response.
It’s a noticeable break from the TinCaps’ traditional summer concert offerings. Raney says with an increasing number of nearby venues emerging over the last few years, management was looking for something different, something no one else is doing.
“We have reasonable expectations, both from our staff and from the convention, so we don’t want to do anything that doesn’t fit the family first feeling at Parkview Field, but we can push the envelope as to what things we bring to the ballpark,” she said.
That’s where Nitro Circus piqued their interest. Raney expects a good turnout, but admits this type of event has a unique appeal.
“I think it’s pretty specific on who would want to even come to this,” she said. “The Philharmonic concert (with Patriotic Pops) brings a different crowd, which is what we love, than the baseball fans. So will Nitro Circus.”
When Nitro Circus first pitched one of their shows to the TinCaps, management was hesitant. It wasn’t so much a no as it was a “not right now” response.
They watched, waited, and kept an open mind. Sure, the strategy was to make sure it was right for fans and executable. More importantly, it was also about protecting the field: It is, after all, a baseball facility that requires kid glove treatment.
Protecting the surface was non-negotiable. Damage to the field impacts games, their core business, but with the TinCaps hitting the road for a nine-game road trip that keeps them away from Parkview Field from July 22-Aug. 2, the timing was right.
With high arching ramps, 30-foot platforms, and scissor lifts stretched across the diamond, there’s a lot of action that will be going on. Being careful can only go so far. You can’t put a tarp over everything.
“For our groundskeepers, just having something on the field (is always a concern), but I don’t know if this pushes us out of our comfort zone overall,” Raney said.
‘This is what we do’
While the approach might be cautious, Nitro Circus is anything but.
Imagine smoke and flames with stunts, tricks, and some comedy mixed in. Promotional material labels the exhibition as “unbelievable content and crazy new contraptions that fuel the sketchy, scary, and risky dangers of big-air action sports entertainment.”
Despite the risk, team officials decided to do it.
“What sealed the deal is that other venues, the other ballparks, have done it and had good results,” Raney said.
The TinCaps will operate the event as they do with baseball games. Key logistics including parking, concessions, and stadium operations are tried and true. But, there are some learning curves.
“It’s different for all of us, but this is what we do,” Raney said. “This is why Parkview Field was built, to be more than baseball, to be a community gathering space, and that’s what we’re trying to do year after year. We are really selective. We only do one or two big non-baseball events, but we try to hit different things that come our way.
“Anything big like this is a collective effort, but I would say the conversation was with (Team President Mike Nutter), myself, and our groundskeeper (Keith Winter), and then everybody stands behind it. Whether it’s a concert or a Nitro Circus or a high school graduation on the field, we try to bring everything to the ballpark that would have that family friendly feeling.”