Friday, March 29, 2019

NCAA Tournament bringing national television exposure on ESPN2

By Zachary Baru

UMass Hockey has made it to the national stage, not just by gaining another appearance in the NCAA Hockey Tournament, but by gaining airtime today nationally on ESPN2.

Today's game against Harvard will be one of many games this season for UMass Hockey on television, but it will be by far their largest audience, even with a tough time slot.  One game earlier this season was broadcast on Fox College Sports, as was another on TSN 2 in Canada.  Regionally, many games have been aired live on NESN and NBC Sports Boston.

Today's ESPN2 appearance is a unique opportunity to give the entire country exposure to the UMass Hockey program, which is having a successful and historic season.  The 2018-19 season marked the first time in program history that UMass Hockey reached a #1 national ranking, and finished the season ranked #4 nationally in the poll.  The Minutemen will look to ride their momentum on a successful season to show a nationwide audience the level the program has reached, as most of the country has not had much exposure to the UMass Hockey team.

With the exception of ESPN+, a streaming subscription service, hockey in general is rare on ESPN.  The NCAA Hockey Tournament, however, has given ESPN exclusive rights in the U.S. to broadcast every game.  ESPN2 will be airing most of the tournament, including the championship game, with some games on ESPNU and two games on ESPN's free streaming service, ESPN3.

UMass will face Harvard today at 3 p.m. in the first round at the 9,852-seat SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.  SNHU Arena is home to the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL.

For UMass, this will be a rare chance to show the entire country how much their program has grown, going from an non-ranked team last season to a #1 ranking in the nation this year.  After a year in which the men's basketball team received little national television exposure, tonight will be an opportunity for the UMass brand to be seen in front of a massive nationwide audience.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, March 8, 2019

Red Sox Weekend coming to Springfield

By Zachary Baru

Since 2015, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend has been held at Foxwoods Resort and Casino, but come 2020 the event will be a whole lot closer - right here in Springfield.

MGM will become the new "official and exclusive resort casino of the Boston Red Sox", replacing the previous 5-year deal with Foxwoods.  Not only will Winter Weekend be coming to MGM Springfield, but the MGM logo will appear on the "Green Monster" in Fenway Park.

Winter Weekend was formerly held at the 4,000-seat Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut since 2015.  There has not been an announcement yet as to which venue Winter Weekend will be held at MGM Springfield, but the resort casino has many options.

MGM Springfield does have convention space at the resort, but a more viable option might be off the resort at the 2,600-seat Symphony Hall, which MGM Springfield now manages.  MGM Springfield also manages the MassMutual Center across Main Street, but between the 8,000-seat arena (for concert seating) and the Exhibition Hall, Symphony Hall might be the better option for the town hall-style event.

It has been a big year for MGM Springfield, after announcing last month that they will be presenting Aerosmith at the MassMutual Center for 4 shows in August 2019 during the band's Deuces Are Wild - East Coast Run.  MGM Resorts International has kept up their promise of more entertainment to the city, as a very successful 2019 continues for MGM Springfield.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at