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April 29, 2021

Portland Sea Dogs scoop up new ice cream supplier for ballpark treats

Portland Sea Dogs mascot Slugger holding a Sea Dogs Biscuit at the ballpark Courtesy / Portland Sea Dogs Portland Sea Dogs mascot Slugger holds up a Sea Dogs Biscuit, which will be made with Gifford's Famous Ice Cream. He's standing in front of the right-field seating section that has been renamed for the Skowhegan-based ice cream maker.

With less than a week to go until opening day for the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field, the Double-A baseball team has scooped up a new ice cream supplier based in Skowhegan.

The team announced Wednesday that Gifford's Famous Ice Cream will supply the ice cream part of the popular Sea Dogs Biscuit sweet treats sold at ballgames, a year after cutting ties with Sanford-based Shain's of Maine over accusations of racism against that company's owner.

Next Tuesday when the Sea Dogs host the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock before a limited-capacity crowd, Gifford's will supply the ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. 

In addition, the right-field pavilion section with countertop seats modeled after Fenway Park's "Monster Seats," within catching range of home-run balls, will be known as the Gifford’s HomeMaine Ice Cream Pavilion.

'Shared core values'

The new partnership is a big score for both parties, with the Sea Dogs set to play ball for the first time in 610 days before a limited-capacity crowd and Gifford's in the midst of rebranding as "Home-Maine" ice cream to highlight its Maine identity.

Gifford's, a fifth-generation family-owned firm with stands in Skowhegan, Auburn, Bangor, Farmington and Waterville and roots going back to the 1970s, is led by CEO Lindsey Skilling, who was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2016.

“In searching for a new ice cream vendor, it was extremely important to us to find a Maine-based company that shared our same core values,” Sea Dogs President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa, said in Wednesday's news release.

“Gifford’s has a remarkable reputation for providing delicious award-winning ice cream and have been a business and community leader in Maine for generations," he added. "We are extremely proud to be partnering with this Maine family-owned company.”

This won't be the first sports deal for Gifford's, which announced a partnership with the Boston Celtics last month and rolled out Full Quart Pretz as the official flavor of the NBA team.

Gifford's is also the official ice cream of both the New England Patriots and the Boston Bruins, with Dough Your Job and Power Flay Fudge, respectively, as those teams official flavors. 

“The Sea Dogs season is something our family has looked forward to each year since we were kids, and the Gifford’s team is so excited to join forces with the Sea Dogs organization,” said JC Gifford, Gifford's vice president of sales. “Ice cream is about making people happy — and what better way to celebrate Maine summer than having a Sea Dogs Biscuit at Hadlock Field?”

He added that the company is honored to partner "with this like-minded team that has brought a smile to Mainer’s faces for decades," urging fans to "go grab your Sea Dog Biscuit on May 4."

Delayed debut for Hadlock upgrades

The home opener is set to start at 6 p.m. local time, the first of six games against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Hadlock will open with new lighting, an upgraded Red Sox update board and a new display for exit velocity, all of which were financed and installed in the 2019 off-season in preparation for the 2020 season that ended up being cancelled because of the pandemic.

Besides being more energy-efficient, the new lighting may feature in dynamic displays for player introductions, home runs or the seventh-inning stretch.

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