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Amicone was big hit in rookie GM season

While Dino Ebel made his debut as a Triple-A manager this season, Marc Amicone did the same thing as a general manager.

And, like Ebel, he enjoyed the experience.

"We had a lot of fun," Amicone said. "There's no place better to be than at the ballpark."

The numbers bear that out. The Stingers increased their average attendance from last season by more than 300 fans per game. Their total attendance was down slightly from the year before, but that was because this season saw seven rainouts and one game lost to travel problems, whereas in the 2004 season there were just three rainouts.

"We're excited about those attendance numbers," Amicone said.

Asked if running a Triple-A team was what he'd expected, Amicone said, "The season is a pretty intense period. But I think I was prepared. There's no question it was a learning experience."

Making it easier, he noted, were the fans and the parent-club Angels.

"We had a good relationship with the fans, which was a big goal for us," he said. "And the Angels were very easy to work with, just a first-class organization."

The Stingers' brass are already looking for ways to improve on what they offer those fans next season, Amicone said.

"We're hoping to have a dozen or more really big bang-up nights," he said — something along the lines of the always-popular fireworks nights. "We want to take the good nights and make them phenomenal nights."

Amicone said he doesn't expect there to be significant stadium changes, at least not things fans will notice. But Ebel said he has been assured that the playing surface — especially the bumpy infield — will be more friendly to his players, and Amicone said that's another thing already being worked on.

"The plan is to make the field as playable as it can be, and we've already started on that," Amicone said. "We'd like it to be the best playing surface in the league."