By Zach Baru
As Holyoke, Massachusetts continues to make efforts to grow its economy and bring more jobs into the city, the Blue Sox find themselves involved in a small, but effective role. Unfortunately the crowds that come into Mackenzie Stadium won't translate into incredible economic figures, but this team is an important part of the identity of the city, one that has been without a baseball team since 1983.
In 1982 the Holyoke Millers of the AA Eastern League left, leaving a void of professional baseball, and sports in general in Holyoke. That all changed in 2004 when the Holyoke Giants brought spectator baseball back to the Pioneer Valley.
But what the Holyoke Blue Sox bring to the city is so much more important than just baseball. It is beneficial for the image of Holyoke, and not to mention a small economic input as well. The Blue Sox lead the league in attendance last year, and their average attendance has grown every year since 2008.
During an August 1, 2011 game last year, the Blue Sox set a team single-game attendance record of 5,000 fans. Hopefully, this season will be no different than 2011 at the gate, and the Blue Sox can continue to play a small role in the improvement of Holyoke's economy. In the ongoing battle over a casino and other economic development options, the Blue Sox are overlooked as an important part of the Paper City.
Zach Baru also blogs for Sports Business Boston. He can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.