Saturday, September 29, 2012

What MGM Springfield Means for the MassMutual Center

By Zachary Baru

The most interesting part of MGM's plan for a casino in downtown Springfield just may be their plan for an indoor entertainment venue.  There will not be one.  

MGM Grand at Foxwoods has the MGM Grand Theatre, approximately a 4,000 seat venue that routinely attracts top concert tours.  Plans for Springfield leave out a theater or arena entirely, as any events can come to the MassMutual Center and Symphony Hall just a few blocks down Main Street from the proposed casino site.  

The MassMutual Center would likely see an increased number of events, and would be the only option for sports or large concerts, as MGM plans to only have an outdoor stage setup for free concerts.  

The question is, will MGM Springfield actually have a sports and entertainment effect, similar to the amount of events that have been appearing at MGM Grand at Foxwoods? One thing Springfield does not have, is the marketability to Boston and New York which Foxwoods will always have.  And the even bigger, more important question, is will this casino even happen at all?

Zach Baru also blogs for Sports Business Boston.  He can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

NHL Lockout Provides Great Opportunity for Falcons

By Zachary Baru

With the National Hockey League lockout canceling the remainder of the NHL preseason schedule, and possibly a good amount of the NHL's regular season, the Springfield Falcons are officially playing in the most competitive hockey league in North America.

The American Hockey League is also arguably the second best hockey league in the world, and Western Massachusetts fans are fortunate to have this caliber of play right in their own backyard.  The Falcons are devoting all of their resources to marketing and selling their product, but the question is how will the fans respond?

The response will most likely be better than that of the 2004-2005 AHL season, when another NHL lockout wiped out the entire NHL season.  Unfortunately for the Falcons, the MassMutual Center renovation was in full swing, and was not completed until the beginning of the 2005-2006 season.

Although it is over a year removed, this region has certainly seen an increase in its attention to hockey, thanks to the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.  Without the NHL, the Falcons hope to capture this attention in the MassMutual Center.

But will an NHL lockout even make a difference?  The Falcons can certainly top their average attendance of 3,659 last year.  With that being said, the NHL does not directly compete with the AHL, as it only boosts the attention for its development league.  How fans will respond will be up to them, but you can bet that the Falcons will give their full effort to promote their brand, and fill those seats with casual AHL fans who no longer have the NHL as an option.

Zach Baru also blogs for Sports Business Boston.  He can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at