Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament: 3,863 attend final day

By Zachary Baru

UNCASVILLE - The 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament concluded on Sunday with 3,863 fans coming out for the second day of the weekend tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Combined with the Saturday crowd of 6,003, the tournament finished with a total attendance of 9,866.  Rhode Island brought the majority of fans, while Seton Hall and Ohio State also had good support as well.

Between the eight division I teams, the competition was excellent, and with three schools being regional, many of their fans came out to show their support, creating a mostly vibrant atmosphere in the arena.  Add that to four of the eight games broadcasted live on ESPN networks, and this tournament should be deemed a success.

As good as the competition was, the best part of this tournament was having the three teams within traveling distance, and allowing their fans to make the trip to Uncasville.  Many other college basketball tournaments this time of year only have one or sometimes no regional teams, which takes away from the atmosphere of the games.  The Tip-Off Tournament did not have that problem at all, as Mohegan Sun Arena had passionate fans all weekend long.

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

Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament: Mohegan Sun Arena home away from home for Western Mass. entertainment

By Zachary Baru

UNCASVILLE - It may be easy to dismiss Mohegan Sun Arena as a local venue, but as it is often the closest location to Springfield for major events, the one-hour trip is well worth the ride.

For Western Mass. basketball fans that made the trip down Route 2 to see the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, they were treated to competitive basketball in a state-of-the-art venue.  Although there were not any sellouts during tournament in the 9,323 permanent seat arena, the venue still was the perfect fit for the eight games, many of which included raucous crowds from regional teams' fans making the trip to Uncasville.

Even for Ohio State, as they just won the Naismith bracket's championship, the crowd actually erupts into multiple Buckeye chants.  On Sunday, the tournament had a smaller crowd than the first day, when 6,003 fans came out to see the four division I games.  

For next year's tournament, there is not a better venue it could be played, as Mohegan Sun Arena certainly gets the job done hosting this weekend-long event.  Best of all, it accommodates television well, as a national broadcast for the tournament is essential.

The arena is a first-class venue, that is ranked 3rd in the U.S. by Billboard Magazine.  It's high ranking is for a reason, this arena is a modern and intimate arena that is perfect for any event, small or large.  It routinely attracts the largest worldwide concert tours, being just large enough to still have the feeling of a stadium concert.

There literally is not a bad seat in the house, with two levels of seating, and a design that supports excellent acoustics.  Just walking through the concourse, there is an attention to detail that cannot be found in many other arenas.  Make no mistake about it, this is the home away from home for Western Mass. entertainment.

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament: 6,003 fans come for first day

By Zachary Baru

UNCASVILLE - On the first day of the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, 6,003 fans came out to Mohegan Sun Arena to see a first day of hoops for division I teams including Ohio State and Rhode Island.  The total attendance accounts for all four games, which featured very lively crowds for the ESPN3 national audience.

Ohio State versus Rhode Island was the marquee game, in which Mohegan Sun Arena became Rhode Island's home court for a day.  Many of their fans filled the seats, and cheerleaders from Rhode Island made the trip down I-95, making for a boisterous crowd.  The support did help Rhode Island at times in the first half, as they kept it interesting trailing 30-26.  But Ohio State was just too much in the end, winning 69-58.

The next game between Seton Hall and Washington was also decently attended, as a large following of fans made the trip through New York from Seton Hall.  It became a "home" game for Seton Hall, whose fans were extremely rowdy, making for a very entertaining game which went into overtime.  The loud fans were not enough for Seton Hall, as Washington went on a 13-2 run in the overtime period, capturing a 84-73 win.

Two games were broadcast on ESPN3.  Tomorrow in the tournament's Naismith bracket final, ESPN2 will broadcast Ohio State versus Washington at 4:30 p.m.  ESPN3 will also broadcast Rhode Island versus Seton Hall at 7.

All in all, it was a great day of basketball at Mohegan Sun Arena with 6,000 fans and spirited crowds supporting their teams.

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

Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament: Regional teams' fans make trip to Mohegan

By Zachary Baru

UNCASVILLE - The 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament may be a neutral site for all games, but in reality, it can often become a home game for the regional teams.  And while the teams making the trip to Connecticut who are not close enough to bring along their fans may not like it, the energy in the arena when a regional team plays is something many other tournaments cannot replicate.

In the last of four games today, Seton Hall just tied the game off a three pointer with 9:13 remaining in the second half.  The crowd of almost entirely Seton Hall fans at Mohegan Sun Arena went absolutely wild.  As their opponent is Washington, this is virtually a home game for Seton Hall, as what happened earlier in the Rhode Island game versus Ohio State.

With so many of the regional teams' fans making the trip to support their teams, the Tip-Off Tournament is different from many of the other tournaments that are taking place this time of the year in college basketball.  Many tournaments only have one regional team, or in the case of the Battle for Atlantis, the only fans in the venue are on vacation in the Bahamas.

Such is not the case at the Tip-Off Tournament, as three of the eight teams are regional, making the crowds much different than most tournaments.  The crowds have been loud and very much into the game, something that makes this tournament special.

Had the tournament been held in Springfield, there would not have been as large of a following from Rhode Island, and it certainly would not have been a "home game" for Seton Hall.  This tournament has found a good home at Mohegan Sun Arena, as the Hall of Fame is still having the Holiday Showcase in Springfield at the MassMutual Center next month, featuring UMass.

This is a good compromise, creating a weekend-long event at Mohegan Sun Arena that is not only extremely competitive, but energetic and entertaining as well.

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

Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament: Mohegan perfect host

By Zachary Baru

UNCASVILLE - If you are still trying to warm-up to this tournament being down the highway at Mohegan Sun Arena rather than Springfield, five minutes at the arena will be enough to convince you that this is the right home for an event which has become a weekend-long, eight-team tournament.

As fans for the respective teams show up, and the national media and NBA scouts arrive, it becomes certain that an event such as this needs a high-profile, resort location to host a tournament that will continue to grow.  Already this year, four games will be broadcast live on ESPN networks, including tomorrow's 4:30 p.m. game on ESPN2 featuring Ohio State and today's winner between Seton Hall and Washington, shown on ESPN3.

While other tournaments may have exotic beach locations, the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament focuses strictly on providing quality division I basketball.  The competition has been great all day, and like other resort-located tournaments that occur during this time of season, such as the Battle for Atlantis, this tournament is perfectly fit for everything Mohegan Sun provides.

Being able to accommodate eight teams with their staffs and trainers, fans traveling to support their teams, and the national media is something that would not be as convenient in Springfield.  Here at Mohegan Sun, hotel rooms and restaurants are literally a few hundred yards from the arena, without even having to walk outside.

You can't beat that in Springfield, making Mohegan Sun Arena the perfect site for this tournament, and allowing the event to continue to provide quality division I basketball for a national audience.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Coverage of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament

The 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament will be at Mohegan Sun Arena this weekend, and Western Mass. Sports Biz will be there to cover the event.  Check back here for analysis and pictures from the tournament.

The eight-team, two-day tournament was played as the Tip-Off Classic between 1979 and 2005 at the Springfield Civic Center/MassMutual Center.  The event will feature four games broadcasted live on ESPN networks, one on ESPN2, and the remaining three on ESPN3.  It is the only exempt NCAA Division I college basketball tournament in New England, where teams receive exempted status for scheduling.

The teams will include Ohio State, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, Washington, Albany, UMKC, Norfolk State and Loyola-Maryland.  Ohio State will play in the marquee games Saturday at 5 and Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

The 9,323 seat Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut opened in 2001, and rivals TD Garden for the biggest concert tours in New England each year.  The arena has won many awards, and is ranked 3rd in the U.S. by Billboard Magazine.

If you can't make it, check back here this weekend for coverage from the weekend-long event.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Will Falcons' Success Translate Off the Ice?

By Zachary Baru

It's any small market team's wish, winning games to get fans in the stands.  But does winning always mean box office success?

It will be interesting to see how fans react to the first-place Falcons, as they lead the Northeast Division of the American Hockey League with a 6-1-0-2 record.  Last Friday's attendance at the MassMutual Center was a modest 3,489, which is still not where the Falcons should be at in today's AHL.

There are many obstacles in the Falcons' way, which they will have to overcome to draw fans in the building during a busy time of year.  Football plays a big part of this, both professionally and high school.  Friday night home games are always tough to draw fans away from high school football games, when half of the towns in Western Mass. have a game being played.  The Sunday games will always be tough draws during football season, as NFL Sunday is hard to compete with no matter which sport is attempting to go up against it.  As football season starts to end, the Falcons will have a much better shot at drawing attention to the team.

UMass hockey will mostly hurt the Falcons, but like the NHL, can also help the Falcons, as UMass' product is so great that it actually sells the sport to casual fans which may not typically think of attending a hockey game.  Right now with UMass hockey drawing multiple crowds of over 7,000, they are a tough competition for the Falcons.  Although Last Friday's UMass game was their smallest crowd of the season with 4,876 fans at the Mullins Center, Friday was an example of a night when the Falcons had to compete with UMass head-on.

One other obstacle that should be mentioned is the lack of the NHL do to the current lock-out.  While this unofficially promotes the AHL to becoming the highest level of hockey in North America, an possibly the world, at the end of the day the AHL and the Falcons actually do need the NHL to keep fans engaged.  Fans may always be interested in hockey, but having the NHL season provides a way to keep excitement about hockey in this country.  Without the NHL, hockey will always be a tough sell.

As the Falcons are seeing great success on the ice, the franchise needs this success to show at the gate, plain and simple.  The season began with a near-sellout, but will we see fans continue to come out in numbers to downtown Springfield?  As the team keeps winning, it will be up to the fans to do their part and support this franchise.

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