Celebrating Opening Day with the Chiefs

By Marc Strauss

April 7, 2011 Updated Apr 7, 2011 at 6:36 PM CDT

The Peoria Chiefs open Thursday night at O'Brien Field against Cedar Rapids. For Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen Opening Day is like celebrating New Year's.

"For over 20 years I've been getting ready for Opening Day," said Vonachen, who started with the Chiefs back when his father, Pete Vonachen, will running the club.

"There's nothing like Opening Day. Its an event in itself and a day we always look forward to."

Eight hours before the first pitch concessions supervisor Geoff Siddons is already hard at work, stocking food carts, and making sure deliveries make it to the ballpark.

"The biggest challenge is actually getting product in on time and distributed," said Siddons. "Also trouble-shooting all of the little things, making sure all of our equipment is up and running and nothing goes out in the middle of the night."

And this season you'll be able to order your food without leaving your seat. It's called "Bypass Lane" and it works from an application on your cell phone.

"People on their smart phones or their I-Pads can get a free account at Bypass Lane and order their food," said Chiefs announcer Nathan Baliva. "When that food is ready they'll get a text message saying its ready, come to this concession stand. They can order food from many different concession stands and we'll go get it, put it all together in one order and they can come pick it up."

That convenience means fans won't have to miss a pitch, or their view of the lush green grass.

Head groundskeeper Mike Reno used to prepare the playing fields for the Florida Marlins and Miami Dolphins and seems to have a magic touch.

"It's kind of the steroids for grass," joked Vonachen. "They come out and they put some fertilizer on it to help green it up early. We try to get on it as soon as we can and get a cut on it and then, again, get the fertilizer on it. Mike's very good at what he does. He comes to us with great experience and the field is in fantastic shape."