The first season of the 50/50 raffle grossed raised $140,695 and net approximately $56,000 for the Sugar Land Skeeters Foundation.
“It went so much better than I could have ever imagined,” said Marcie Zlotnik, co-owner of the Skeeters with her husband Bob Zlotnik and a member of the foundation’s board of directors.
Not knowing how it would go in the first season, Zlotnik had observed that other Atlantic League teams with raffles made about $20,000 a year. The Skeeters grossed half of that amount on June 29 when the jackpot reached $10,855.
To put things in perspective, the Skeeters did better than most minor league teams with raffles this year. According to the foundation, the Skeeters ranked second behind the El Paso Chihuahuas, who led all of minor league baseball with $230,655 in net 50/50 raffle sales in 2018. The Skeeters also trailed only El Paso out of minor league baseball teams in the state of Texas with a 50/50 raffle, with the Round Rock Express the next-closest at No. 22 ($68,635)
Along with the Skeeters, the Lancaster Barnstormers, Somerset Patriots and York Revolution make up the other organizations in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball with 50/50 raffles. The Skeeters fell just $1,870 short of matching the net combined total from the 50/50 raffles of all other ALPB teams.
The Skeeters grossed an average $1,808 per night. One person won three times and three people won twice. Five jackpots were unclaimed. From the raffle proceeds, half goes to the winner, approximately 10 percent goes to the Skeeters to run the program and 40 percent goes to the foundation.
“We’re excited. We had a solid game plan for executing this,” Zlotnik said.
The excitement of a successful inaugural season with the raffle now gives way to more fun to come. Combined with the $30,000 the Sugar Land Skeeters Foundation raised with its fifth annual Kickball Classic, held last September, the foundation now has more than $80,000 to provide grants to youth programs in the region.
“We have a lot of money to give out and we need people to apply for grants,” Zlotnik said.
She said the important thing to her is not the money, but what the money can do in the lives of children.
“Wherever we can, we make a difference in the lives of children by letting them get out and play,” she said.
The foundation’s mission is to insure that all children have access to a healthy lifestyle regardless of any physical, economic, or social limitations they may have. In the past the foundation has donated grants to organizations such as Alief YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Arc of Fort Bend, Hope For Three, and the Dream League.
Zlotnik explained that the foundation awards grants to small nonprofit organizations for programs that help children get outside and play. In the past they have helped fund a ballpark, a universally accessible playground, and provided equipment for youth sports leagues.
“It’s important to get the word out about the mission,” she said.
Zlotnik also acknowledge state Sen. Joan Huffman, who in the last Legislative session moved a bill out of committee to a floor vote that allowed Texans to vote on allowing minor league professional sports teams to hold 50/50 raffles like their big league counterparts.
Because of that, the foundation is able to give more money to local nonprofits and help many disadvantaged children get opportunities to play and improve their quality of life.
“It’s the 50/50 raffle that’s really making the impact,” she said.
The grant application season will open in January. To learn more, visit the foundation’s website at www.sugarlandskeeters.com/foundation.