With just weeks remaining until their first game, the Worcester Railers are working to make their inaugural season in the ECHL a success.
The Railers have been building up to their debut for some time, laying the groundwork for their launch at the DCU Center. The ECHL officially granted the club membership earlier this year, and indications to that point had been that the Railers were finding solid support from the community.
Worcester and DCU Center are no strangers to professional hockey, as a couple of teams have proceeded the Railers in playing at the arena. The most recent of those, the AHL’s Worcester Sharks, began playing at the DCU Center in 2006, but moved to San Jose after the 2014-15 season to become the San Jose Barracuda.
As they work to build their own identity in the city, the Railers are taking some unique steps to ensure that they have a strong presence beyond the DCU Center. More from the Worcester Business Journal:
Railers Owner Cliff Rucker is building a two-rink athletic facility in the Canal District, a restaurant called Railers Tavern across from the DCU Center, and bought a stake in The Palladium to help boost the downtown concert hall’s events schedule.
As the Railers become the third Worcester minor league hockey team since 1994 when the puck drops on their inaugural season on Oct. 14, all these community and economic efforts are part of a larger plan to succeed where their predecessors – the Sharks and the IceCats – failed, especially as the Railers face the greater pressure of moving down a tier in the hockey hierarchy.
“We’re not just a team,” said Railers President Michael Myers, surrounded by a wall of hockey jerseys and a shelf lined with bobblehead dolls in his DCU Center office. “And how do you prove that to someone before you’ve dropped a puck?”
The proactive outreach effort, including sponsorships and business partnerships, is working. The team, has sold nearly 1,500 season tickets so far, beating what the Sharks sold in their final year, and has sold more corporate advertising and sponsorships than anyone else in its league, Myers said.
Along with the Jacksonville IceMen, the Railers are one two teams that are joining the ECHL for the 2017-18 season. The Railers’ first game will be on October 14.
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