AUSTIN, Texas – For United Heritage Credit Union members, nothing says "thank you" better than a night of peanuts and cracker jacks at a baseball game. The $333 million credit union has recently hosted Member Appreciation Day at popular Minor League Round Rock Express' baseball facility -The Dell Diamond. Some 500 members watched as the Round Rock Express continued its eight-game winning streak with an 8-0 win over the El Paso Diablos. "Baseball is not only an American pastime but one of the best activities for families to experience together," said UHCU President/CEO Buddy Schroeder. "So we are just lucky to have a partnering agreement with Round Rock Express because it is such a hit with our members." According to Schroeder, in addition to the change in venue from a large pavilion, the key to the event's popularity has been separating the annual meeting from the member appreciation event. "We used to have a large annual meeting and include the fun but we found it was difficult for members to focus on business matters with so many other things going on at the same time so we started exploring other options," said Schroeder. The perfect solution came in the form of a ballpark diamond. UHCU has been title sponsor of the Dell Diamond's 10,000 square-foot convention center since 2001. The 10-year partnership between the Club and credit union includes exclusive convention center naming rights, signage at the stadium entrance, a United Heritage ATM directly in front of the Center and tickets to select home games. The Dell Diamond features some 24 luxury suites, a swimming pool and spa, basketball courts and even a kid play area that includes a rock climbing wall. As for the team, a star-studded cast that includes such baseball greats as Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettit owns the Round Rock Express. Schroeder says the family-friendly venue provided members the best of both worlds. In addition to free access to unlimited food and refreshments, members have their choice of watching the game on a large screen television in air-conditioned comfort or sitting along the fist base line to get the up-close experience. According to UHCU Vice President of Marketing Jenny Laudadio, tickets are heavily advertised well before the event and are sold on a first-come first serve basis. Generally the credit union is sold out in just two days. A nominal ticket "fee" is charged mainly to help with tracking as all the money raised is donated to the credit union's charity foundation. Thanks to the existing relationship and all the marketing being done in-house, costs for hosting the event are minimal. Laudadio says to keep the event fresh and fun, the bulk of time is spent over the course of a few months in production time planning. This year clown face painters were on hand to decorate the young and young at heart. Kids were also given tickets to enter the "Fun Zone" area where they could try their hand at clocking their fast pitch or just bounce around in the jumping castle. Members also vied for such door prizes ranging from gift certificates to the Round Rock Express gift shop and local restaurants to American Express Gift checks and the grand prize of a 27″ combination television/ VCR/DVD player. Also up for grabs was $100 cash for the member who could guess the number of unshelled peanuts that were in a large box during the "Peanut Guess" event. "It has been a tremendous event over the years and that is due in part to the team's success," said Schroeder. "Our members are great fans and the greatest challenge is finding a way to expand the venue so we can get more members in." [email protected]

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