Just like the Bisons do for things like concerts and the National Chicken Wing Festival, many International League teams use their stadiums for anciliary events all summer and the clubs have pushed the league to finalize next year's schedule so they can start scheduling their ballpark.
The IL did just that, releasing its 2013 schedule today. Under the alternate-year formula the league uses, the Herd opens at home next spring and it's an early one: The season and home opener will be on Thursday, April 4 at 2:05 against the Rochester Red Wings.
(One reminder on the schedule: It's set regardless of who the teams are affiliated with. The Bisons, for instance, are likely deciding in September between the Mets and Blue Jays while Rochester has to decide whether to keep Minnesota or perhaps grab the Mets if they're booted from Buffalo).
The Bisons will have a healthy 44 percent of their 2013 home schedule (32 of 72 games) on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday and will have 10 of the popular Friday night dates. Buffalo's 25 home games in the after the 2013 All-Star break are the 2nd-most among all IL teams to Rochester's 26. The Bisons play 17 home games in August, the most of any month.
The full promotional schedule will be announced at a later date, but the team has already firmed up major ones such as School Kids Day (June 6 vs. Lehigh Valley at 10:35 a.m.), Star Wars Night (June 22 against Durham), Independence Eve (July 3 vs. Rochester), Home Run Derby (Aug. 4 against Pawtucket) and Fan Appreciation Night (Aug. 29 against Rochester).
The Bisons will start evening games at 7:05 after April. Most Sundays and weekday afternoons will start at 1:05 (there will be one Thursday afternoon game at that time each month), while night games in April and for special events will start at 6:05.
The schedule format remains unchanged: Sixteen games (eight home, eight away) vs. the other five teams in the IL North and eight games (4-4) against the other eight IL teams. The Bisons make their first trip to Scranton's new stadium for a four-game set from June 8-11, and the season ends with a two-game set in Syracuse on Sept. 1-2.
The complete schedule:
April -- 4-5, Rochester; 6-7, at Rochester; 8-9-10, Syracuse; 11-12-13-14, Scranton-WB; 15-16-17-18, at Syracuse; 19-20-21-22, at Lehigh Valley; 23-24-25-26, Pawtucket; 27-28-29-30, at Rochester.
May -- 2-3-4-5, Louisville; 6-7-8-9, Norfolk; 10-11-12-13, at Louisville; 14-15-16-17, at Indianapolis; 18-19-20-21, Charlotte; 23-24-25-26, Indianapolis; 27-28-29-30, at Durham; 31, at Norfolk.
June -- 1-2-3, at Norfolk; 4-5-6-7, Lehigh Valley; 8-9-10-11, at Scranton-WB; 13-14-15-16, at Pawtucket; 17-18-19-20, Gwinnett; 21-22-23-24, Durham; 25-26-27-28, at Gwinnett; 29-30, at Charlotte.
July -- 1-2, at Charlotte; 3, Rochester; 4-5, at Scranton-WB; 6-7 (DH), Syracuse; 9-10, at Syracuse; 11-12, at Lehigh Valley; 13-14, Scranton-WB; 17, Triple-A All-Star Game at Reno; 18-19-20-21, Toledo; 22-23-24-25, Columbus; 26-27-28-29, at Toledo; 30-31, at Columbus;
August -- 1-2, at Columbus; 3-4-5-6, Pawtucket; 8-9, Scranton-WB; 10-11, at Scranton-WB; 12-13, Syracuse; 14-15-16, Rochester; 17-18-19-20, at Pawtucket; 22-23-24-25, Lehigh Valley; 26-27, at Lehigh Valley; 28-29, Rochester; 30-31, at Rochester.
September -- 1-2, at Syracuse.