On the heels of their successful inaugural season, the Springfield Thunderbirds have promoted Executive Vice President Nathan Costa to team President. This was one of several promotions announced by the club.
“Given the team’s success this year, there is no one we would rather have leading this franchise into the future than Nate Costa. We are truly proud to name him our President,” said Paul Picknelly, Thunderbirds’ Managing Owner.
Under Costa’s leadership, the Thunderbirds have garnered attention across the American Hockey League for their innovative marketing and sales practices. Costa’s elevation comes on the heels of the AHL’s annual Board of Governors’ Meeting, where the franchise received four Team Business Service Awards for top revenue growth in overall ticket sales, season-ticket sales, group-ticket sales and corporate sponsorship sales. The team also saw attendance for AHL hockey at the MassMutual Center rise by over 50% to 4,664 fans per game last season. Included in that achievement were three sold out game nights, the largest pro hockey crowds in Springfield in over a decade.
“I want to thank all the owners for putting their faith in me and I want to thank our entire staff for an incredible inaugural campaign,” said Costa. “It’s an honor to lead this franchise and I have no doubt that year two will be even better.”
In his new role Costa will continue to lead the team’s day-to-day business operations, overseeing everything from marketing and ticket sales to promotion and community engagement. He will also work closely with the Thunderbirds’ NHL parent club, the Florida Panthers, on team scheduling, travel and other logistics. Prior to working for the Thunderbirds, Costa served the AHL’s Vice President of Team Business Services. In that role, Costa worked closely with all thirty franchises to improve team business operations, share best practices, develop staff, and help onboard new franchises.
Additionally, the Thunderbirds announced the promotions of Todd McDonald to Senior Director of Ticket Sales, Peter Colón to Director of Ticket Operations, Luke Pawlak to Director of Game Operations & Creative Services, Matthew McRobbie to Senior Account Executive, and Drew Supernor to Manager of Brand Development & Merchandise.
“It’s very important to celebrate success while creating an environment of growth and opportunity for the entire staff,” said Costa. “Every single member of our team played a pivotal role in making our inaugural season a success, and we could not be happier to reward their hard work and dedication to laying a foundation for our franchise to be one of the very best in the American Hockey League.”
McDonald, who was retained from the prior AHL organization in Springfield, oversaw a ticket sales department whose efforts led to an attendance growth of over 1,500 fans per game at the MassMutual Center in the 2016-17 season.
Colón stayed with the Springfield AHL organization for the transition to the Thunderbirds era. With a condensed offseason timeline leading up to the Thunderbirds launch, Colon was instrumental in ushering the franchise seamlessly into a new ticketing system. Simultaneously, his renewed focus on digital ticketing and efficient data collection made him a key resource to the ticket sales department during the Thunderbirds’ record-setting first season.
Pawlak also stayed with the franchise following the transition to the Thunderbirds era. Under his watchful eye, Pawlak led the Thunderbirds’ reimagined game-night experience that resonated with fans both young and old. With innovative new intermission games, contests, and first-time offerings such as the MGM Springfield Pregame Concert Series, a game night at the MassMutual Center became a more widespread experience beyond a hockey game.
McRobbie earned his promotion to Senior Account Executive after leading the Thunderbirds in the areas of season ticket and group sales revenue while being a strong veteran mentor for his ticket sales colleagues.
In his first year working full-time in AHL hockey, Supernor was instrumental in creating and building upon the Thunderbirds brand identity in the areas of merchandise and grassroots marketing initiatives. His vision led to a record-breaking year for merchandise and retail sales for the Springfield AHL club.