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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Zach also writes for Sports Business Boston.