On a typical game night, the Thunderbirds bring much more to Downtown Springfield then entertainment. The history that we have come to know of hockey in Springfield has been adding to the city's local economy each month during the fall, winter and spring since 1926. But in March of 2020, that tradition has been put on hold. Unfortunately for the businesses of Downtown Springfield, many of their futures have been put on hold along with it.
The 6,663-seat (fixed seating) MassMutual Center is typically responsible for various entertainment events throughout the year. Removing this important part of the city's culture can be detrimental for the city, as we are seeing now during the pandemic.
It is unquestionably unsafe to hold large events during a pandemic, but the importance of such events to a city's economic health is brought to light during these difficult times. Arenas such as the MassMutual Center bring residents and visitors alike to a city, and provide the area with economic potential before and after the event.
This can be seen before and after each Thunderbirds game, when downtown restaurants see a rush of guests build immediately before the game, and once it is over, another rush of patrons comes through the restaurant. Fans like to meet before the game, and they like to socialize after, all of which is important for the establishments throughout the downtown area.
The Thunderbirds are more than just entertainment, they are a lifeline for the city. They are a lifeline for the businesses in the city. And they are what makes the city and the area's 94-year history of hockey special. Concerts and sports provide so much to the businesses in and around Downtown Springfield. This pandemic has forced all of us to stop taking certain things for granted, maybe some of us can add our own entertainment in the city to that list.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Zach also writes SportsBusinessBoston.com.