The Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) are building on the success of their 2016-17 campaign, as the club is seeing solid fan support this season.
After relocating from Portland, ME–where they were known as the Portland Pirates–the Thunderbirds became a success story during their debut 2016-17 campaign at Springfield’s MassMutual Center. The team averaged 4,664 fans per game last season, outpacing the average of 3,108 drawn in 2015-16 by their MassMutual Center predecessor, the Springfield Falcons.
Thus far, the team’s 2017-18 season is heading in a positive direction under president Nathan Costa. The Thunderbirds had three sell outs before January 1, and their momentum from last year looks to have carried into the current slate, despite a high number of early-season games. More from The Springfield Republican:
“We’ve been pleased with this year for the most part. The second year creates a little more of a challenge than the first, but we are headed in the right direction,” Costa says.
One challenge this season has been the AHL schedule. Springfield’s slate included seven more home games before the calendar turned to a new year. In every market, games before January are the toughest to sell.
Yet Springfield hit January with an average home attendance of 4,596. In a league that features several very large metropolitan areas (Chicago, San Diego, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Toronto among them), the Thunderbirds ranked 20th out of 30 teams.
Current T-Birds crowds are 50 percent above the Falcons’ final numbers, on pace or slightly ahead of last year’s inaugural season (a remarkable feat considering the high number of early-season games) and 1,500 fans per game more than drawn in Hartford, their AHL neighbor 30 miles to the south.
In a story last September, our own Jeff Goldberg spoke to Costa about the Thunderbirds’ 2017-16 season and its plans for the 2017-18 campaign.
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