Visitors from near and far will be gathering downtown at UPMC Park for the Eastern League Southwest Division playoffs.

The Erie SeaWolves face off against the Richmond Flying squirrels at 6:35 p.m. Thursday. If they win, they win the series. But if they lose, they will play again Friday night in a best-of-three series.

This is the second season in a row that the baseball team has made it to the playoffs and a win Thursday or Friday means the team will advance to the championship series.

Greg Gania, who is the assistant general manager for the Erie SeaWolves, said that minor league playoff appearances don’t happen very often.

“The team went over 10 years without making a playoff run, and to have this in back-to-back seasons is really special,” Gania said.

Gania said that every year the SeaWolves bring millions of dollars to the region, but the playoffs are something special for local businesses.

“Whether that be restaurants, bars, hotel rooms, people that have traveled in to watch the team play, it’s such a big thing for this community and we’re proud to be stewards of the community. Anything we can do to give back we always do it,” Gania explained.

Local bar owner David Freeman said they are expecting a large crowd before and after the game.

“People come as far as Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland to see the games. It’s always a pleasure to see our out of town guests,” said David Freeman, owner of BigBar.

A lot of Freeman’s business is generated by location. BigBar is just one block away from the ballpark.

“We love being down here right next to all the SeaWolves and the Otters, it’s fabulous. We love the game fans coming in for a drink or for a quick bite to eat before they go over there. We’re very excited about it,” Freeman said.

“We’re just going to play it up as much as we can at the ballpark. Our entertainment team has been pumped. They have something in their back pocket that they have been saving for the playoffs, it should be a fun night,” Gania went on to say.

Doors opened to the general public at 5:30 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:35 p.m.