Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thunderbirds off to another big start at box office

By Zachary Baru

The Springfield Thunderbirds began the franchise's second season with a bang October 14, selling out opening night for the second consecutive season.  The Thunderbirds lost 4-3 to the Hartford Wolf Pack as 6,793 fans filled the MassMutual Center.  It all started outside the arena with the Opening Weekend Pre-Game Party, as fans showed up early in support of the hometown American Hockey League affiliate of the Florida Panthers.

The sellout crowd was another impressive start to the season for the Thunderbirds, who continue to impress the region's sports fans with their off-the-ice operations.  Promotions have been key, as the Thunderbirds have been heavily promoting their brand with unique and effective marketing ever since the franchise began last year.

Besides special promotions this season such as "David Ortiz Night" or having Rene Rancourt sing the American and Canadian National Anthems, the Thunderbirds have done a particularly good job with social media marketing.  The front office has made this a focus since day one, and marketing through the team's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts has made a massive difference with fan engagement, translating to box office success.

Social media marketing has allowed fans of all ages to stay connected with the Thunderbirds, just one reason why this form of marketing is so critical to the team's off-the-ice performance.  And it's not just how often the Thunderbirds have been staying in touch with fans, it's how well they have done it.

The team has done an exceptional job producing professionally shot videos and marketing this through social media, reaching thousands of fans each day.  Flyovers of Downtown Springfield, inside looks of the arena before the game, and highlights of games have all become something fans are now used to via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As the Thunderbirds season heats up, hockey fans throughout Western Massachusetts can only hope that the Thunderbirds off-the-ice success continues.

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hall of Fame to hold high school showcase prior to Hoophall Miami Invitational

By Zachary Baru

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will make this year's Hoophall Miami Invitational more than just an elite college basketball double-header, the event will truly tie in the local community by allowing ten Miami-area high schools the opportunity to display their talent on the court at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

The third-annual Hoophall Miami Inviational, the Hall of Fame's Miami college basketball showcase, has been previously announced as a double-header with two match-ups, Syracuse-Kansas and Miami-Princeton on December 2 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

Yesterday's announcement gives ten high schools from the Miami-area a chance to play in a high school showcase event on November 28 also at the AmericanAirlines Arena, and allows fans the chance to purchase tickets for $19, a ticket that gives entry to all five high schools games as well as the college double-header.

This is yet another example of the Hall of Fame's continued effort to expand its reach and market itself both regionally and nationwide, alongside the Tip-Off Tournament held each November at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the Hall of Fame Classic college double-header held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 8, and the men's and women's college Holiday Showcases, held December 19 and 20 respectively at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Having the Hall of Fame holding events throughout the country helps grow an already worldwide brand, something that is very beneficial locally here in Western Massachusetts.  In addition to Six Flags New England and Yankee Candle, the Hall of Fame has been one of the region's largest tourist attractions ever since its opening in 1968 at Springfield College and continues to be a boon for the the regional economy.

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