Halloween events have always been popular with Central New Yorkers during the month of Shocktober, with tried-and-true terror emporiums designed to scare the yell out of patrons. Entering the “Boo!” brigade for the first time is, of all unlikely organizations, the Syracuse Chiefs ball club, which fields the brand-new CarnEVIL of Chiefsville at Alliance Bank Stadium.
The CarnEVIL show represents another attempt to keep the lights on at the stadium once the boys of summer, the Chiefs’ minor-league team, have wrapped their season after Labor Day. Of course, some baseball stadiums in other cities were constructed within those skyscrapered metropolises, and have better weathered the off-season downtime with ongoing events and in-house taverns. (The Buffalo Bisons’ Pettibone Grille is open year-round at Coca-Cola Field, for example.) But that’s obviously not the case with the Chiefs’ stadium, which means the club has to work that much harder to lure people to its lonely location behind the Regional Market.
And scaring up business, so to speak, is the name of the game for the CarnEVIL of Chiefsville. Skaneateles company Simplified Entertainment is in charge of the stadium’s sicko diversions, with owner Tom Bresadola reporting that his events company has other creepy conceptual showcases in states such as Texas and North Dakota.
Customers first notice a skeleton crew of nine players located on the grassy field. Meanwhile, the new 30-by-55-foot digital scoreboard plays old-school horror flicks, as the overripe voice of Bela Lugosi’s caped sawtooth reverberates throughout the concourse, where face painters offer cool-ghoul complexions for the willing.
Over by the first-base side near the Chicken Fry Fry stand, patrons must first navigate through a brief funhouse mirror maze, as a sign warns that strobe-light effects will be used during the startling trek. Then they schlep downstairs to what’s usually forbidden-to-locals territory: the away team’s locker-room facilities, now all gruesomed up for the occasion. The ages-12-and-up demographic is the target audience, depending on their taste for visuals of pop-eyed whatzits, blood-spattered walls and the occasional severed limb.
Sheets of plastic form temporary walls as patrons zigzag their way through the concrete catacombs, with a distinct swimming pool-liner smell permeating the journey. Gimmicks abound, with animatronic effects like a lunging, king-size spider. And you can’t tell whether that corpse you’ve just passed by is really a dummy or a Simplified hired hand who’s dolled up to look like the undead and ready to say “Howdy!”
While longtime Chiefs fans will note their physical location underneath the box seats in sections 103 to 111, the most amusing stop on the tour takes place in the away team’s restroom. Taking some obvious inspiration from the Saw movie series, the lurid lavatory is bathed in an eerie blue light, with decapitated noggins filling the sinks. “Owww!” moaned a victim lying face down on the floor as an intrepid journalist accidentally tripped over his head. (Hey, it was dark down there. . . ) In one grisly shock effect, sitting on side-by-side johns are two of the dearly departed, unless maybe the Iron Pigs are already back in town.
The CarnEVIL of Chiefsville continues its run Thursdays through Saturdays, 6 to 11 p.m., through Oct. 27, with a $10 admission. For those craving refreshments, the Hank Sauer Room will be open for libations, and ditto the Chicken Fry Fry stand, which will serve up a limited menu that includes the likes of chicken fingers, fries, popcorn and peanuts.
Alliance Bank Stadium will also continue its broadcasting of professional football watch parties, with free admission to see the games al fresco on the 1,650-square-foot scoreboard. Upcoming Sunday games feature the Washington Redskins and New York Giants (Oct. 21, 1 p.m.) and the Giants battling the Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 28, 4:25 p.m.), while Monday kickoffs will include the Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears (Oct. 22, 8:30 p.m.), and the San Francisco 49ers-Arizona Cardinals matchup (Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m.). Patrons must enter the first-base ramp side, with Chicken Fry Fry offering 50-cent wings and $3 draft beers during the first half.
And for General Hospital fans, soap opera stud Steve Burton will visit the stadium on Nov. 10, 1 p.m., with a reception, buffet dinner and VIP cocktail party scheduled for fans, at prices that range from $90 to $135. For details on Alliance Bank Stadium happenings, call 474-7833 or visit syracusechiefs.com.