Thursday, December 29, 2011

Could the Boston Celtics Build a New Arena?

By Zach Baru

When Celtics ownership stopped by WEEI last week for an interview with Dale Arnold, an interesting moment occurred.  Arnold asked a question tweeted by a listener, “Are the Celtics interested in building their own arena?”  Even more interesting than the question, the response did not include a “yes” or a “no”.

So would the Celtics actually be interested in building their own arena?  Jeremy Jacobs and his Delaware North Companies own the Celtics’ home arena, TD Garden, as well as the Boston Bruins.  TD Garden is a tremendous asset for Jacobs, and one the Celtics do not benefit from.  Although the WEEI interview portrayed a very happy and healthy relationship between Jacobs and the Celtics, the benefits of owning their own arena are far too great not to speculate.

The chance of the Celtics actually pulling something like this off is slim, and we will probably see a new Fenway Park before a new Celtics arena.  But the idea of a franchise controlling all revenues from a major arena in a top 10 U.S. media market is one that shouldn’t be dismissed quickly. 

Celtics owners Steve Pagliuca and Wyc Grousbeck had nothing but praise for Jacobs and Delaware North when asked about their relationship, and the fact that they did not directly answer the question regarding arena plans is certainly not an indication that they have any such plans.  It seemed they were taken off guard with the question, and it was answered in a very predictable and careful manner.

Other than the benefit of being able to control various streams of basketball-related revenue, a newly built Celtics arena would create the opportunity to provide competition for major concerts in Boston.  TD Garden attracts many top artists each year, but does not provide good acoustics for concerts.  A new arena would create a new option for promoters looking for a large arena in Boston.

Given this economy, and limited options for an accessible location, a new arena in Boston is a far-fetched idea.  But certainly not one to completely disregard.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Patriot Place Would Benefit From Full-Time Commuter Rail

By Zach Baru

One of the best features of Gillette Stadium is not only Patriot Place, but rather the alternative method of travel available to and from Patriots games.  It is not required that fans must spend an hour-plus wait in traffic before and after football games.  Fans have the opportunity to take commuter rail to and from Boston and Providence, and stops in between. 

This is an excellent benefit for both fans and the franchise, which has been burdened with attempting to ease the traffic congestion around the 68,756 seat stadium.  The partnership with commuter rail owner Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and its operator Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, has proven to be popular.  For the beginning of the 2011 Patriots season, MBTA added additional rail cars to its “Football Train” service. 

This service to Foxboro for Patriots games provides an excellent glimpse of the benefit commuter rail could have for the Patriots if full-time service were added.  Studies have already been conducted, and there have been opinions for and against the proposed new route.  Everything from funding, to profitability, to environmental impact has been studied and debated. 

There has been a trend in recent years among sports and entertainment venues and incorporating public transportation.  Gone are the days when stadiums are built with the expectation that 100% of the fans will be arriving by car.   The combination of better transportation options, traffic congestion, and high gas prices has provoked a surge in the use of public transportation to sporting events and concerts.  Many of the new arenas and stadiums being built include plans for high volume use of public transportation.

Connecting Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium to Boston’s South Station and possibly Providence full-time would be a great benefit for not just Patriot Place, but Foxboro as well.  As more people come into Foxboro every day and shop at Patriot Place, or dine at restaurants, the local economy will continue to grow.  For any great venue, accessibility is substantially important.  Full-time commuter rail to Foxboro would make it possible for a growing lifestyle and entertainment center to further connect to Boston, and bring in more tax revenue for Foxboro. 

With the increased number of commuter rail trains, the congestion in and around US-1 and I-95 would decrease, improving the traffic flow in the area.  This would not only be an improvement to the local economy, but an improvement to infrastructure as well.  Patriot Place’s location can be both its best asset and biggest challenge.  It is time to solve this problem, and bring full-time commuter rail to Foxboro.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Valentine Signing Gives Red Sox Great PR Opportunity

By Zach Baru

At a time when much of the media has been taking more shots at the Red Sox organization than all of the Bruins' powerplays this season, the signing of Manager Bobby Valentine is an excellent opportunity to prove that business is running smoothly on Yawkey Way.

The media can sway public opinion, and often turn the public against a franchise. The Red Sox need to ensure the public that they are in the driver’s seat, and there is no time like the present.

First and foremost, the Red Sox need to continue to show that order is in place in the front office. This involves establishing exactly where new General Manager Ben Cherington falls, in terms of power. The Red Sox should not let the media dictate this, they must continue to make it clear. The public needs to know exactly who is in charge, and should not have to question or debate this. Too much speculation over Cherington’s power has been discussed in the media, and the Red Sox must make this end.

This is certainly an important time for the Red Sox, as they have a powerful and extremely marketable brand.  Fortunately for the organization, Boston is a very forgiving town. Although any small issue can become a PR mess the next day, ultimately, New England fans are passionate and forgiving.

The perception of the Red Sox brand does not all revolve around one manager. And long-term, it certainly won’t revolve around one season. However, the importance of this off-season cannot be taken for granted.  Tonight was a success, and this must continue.  At a time when the Red Sox have the entire Boston media captivated, they have to take advantage, and use it to benefit the Red Sox brand.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bruins Make Twitter's Top Trends Wednesday

By Zach Baru

The power of Twitter, it really is amazing.  Our very own Boston Bruins saw this first-hand Wednesday night, as they reached global popularity on social media.  

Not one, but four of Twitter's most popular worldwide trends on Wednesday were associated with the Bruins.  The media-hyped controversy over the hit by Boston's Milan Lucic on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller 12 days ago lead up to hockey theater on Wednesday night in Buffalo.  As soon at the game started, Twitter was flooded by people weighing in on their thoughts on the game.  

The result: instant exposure for the Bruins.  From a marketing standpoint, this is priceless.  Having the Bruins trending on Twitter creates excellent international exposure for the brand, and at a minimal cost to the franchise.  This right here is the power of Twitter, keeping an entire network of social media users in touch with the Bruins' product, and reaching out to new potential fans.

So just what were the four Bruins-related trends topping Twitter's worldwide list on Wednesday?  The first two occurred during the game, and were the expected hashtag "#Bruins" followed by the surprising hashtag "#dontpokethebear".  The last two trends were not hashtags, and occurred immediately following the game.  They were of course "Tim Thomas", and unexpectedly followed by, that's right, "Jack Edwards".

For those of you wondering what in the world a hashtag might be, all you need to know is that it's just a small example of the undeniable power of Twitter, and the ever-changing medium it represents.  For years, the sports business industry has had a unique opportunity to adapt and embrace social media.  There is still more work to be done, and more potential for sports franchises to market their brands.  Social media has been, and will be the new way of marketing.  And it is not going anywhere.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Monday, November 7, 2011

How They Rank: Top Boston-Area Stadiums and Arenas

By Zach Baru

As the seventh largest media market in the U.S., Boston is a favorite for event promoters.  But just what are the top venues in the area?  It is more than just visual appeal and amenities that make a venue important, it's convenience and the over-all fan experience.  Using these factors, and after visiting the venues, here's how I rank the top 5 stadiums and arenas in the Boston market:

#5: TD Garden

The Garden is for the most part modern, however, it lacks any sort of character.  One of the best features of this venue is the HDX video scoreboard, which offers stunning high definition resolution at 1080p.  The Garden offers some of the best access to public transportation in Boston, as it sits above North Station, with service from MBTA Commuter Rail, Amtrak, and subways.  For a large arena that seats 17,565 for hockey, there are not too many bad views, making this arena a great place to see sports and concerts.

#4: Agganis Arena

The intimacy of the 6,150 seats for hockey ensures that any seat can be close to the action.  The accessibility of the Green Line subway makes getting to the game easy and hassle-free.  The six year-old building is extremely modern, and is located in the John Hancock Student Village, a very lively area on the Boston University Campus.

#3: Harvard Stadium

No venue in the region has character quite like Harvard Stadium.  Built in 1903, the stadium has historical charm, yet also modern innovations such as a video board and a new public address system in 2008, FieldTurf in 2007 and a major infrastructure renovation in 1984.  While many stadiums are simply "venues" for the game, this stadium can be the main attraction itself.  It is easy to loose your focus, and appreciate all the history that surrounds you.

#2: Fenway Park

Fenway is intended to preserve its century-old history while offering the modern amenities fans expect when they attend an event.  Fenway does an excellent job balancing these initiatives, and offers easy public transportation options.  The Green Line subway and the MBTA Commuter Rail both have stations in the Fenway area.  While the concourses lack the width of newer stadiums, many older seats have been replaced, and three new LED video boards were installed for the 2011 season.  The ability to watch replays and other video in high definiton is a major addition to the fan experience at the ballpark.  

#1: Gillette Stadium

As beautiful and well designed as a stadium Gillette is, what really makes the 68,756 seat stadium so special is the fact that it is located at Patriot Place.  The entertainment and lifestyle center includes anything a fan, family or tourist could ever want. Centered around a Mariott Courtyard hotel, Patriot Place has plenty of upscale and casual dining restaurants, bars, shopping and even activities for children.  What makes Gillette Stadium stand out from the other venues is that it is not an attraction, it is a destination.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Monday, October 31, 2011

NBA Lockout Takes Toll on Boston Economy

By Zach Baru

How can 41 basketball games a year effect the lives of 600,000 people in Boston?  It's simple.  It's economics.

You don't really need to know anything about sports.  And no, you definitely don't need to know the number of fouls a player is allowed in a basketball game.  All you need to know is that the Boston Celtics generate a substantial amount of money for the Boston economy.  So much in fact, that if one was to attempt to determine a value, it would be more of a lie than an estimate.  

The Boston Celtics were scheduled to play 41 home games this season.  With the loss of 18,624 fans entering the TD Garden, a downward effect begins on the Boston economy.  So much has been made of the effects to the North End, but the impact is felt in areas where the arena is nowhere to be found.  

The effects begin with the loss of state tax revenue being generated from any sale relating to the game.  Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority takes a hit from the loss of ridership on its subways and commuter rail, both of which carry fans directly into North Station and the TD Garden.  Outside the arena, restaurants and bars count on the games to bring in fans before and after games.  The neighborhood also includes hotels which attract fans and media looking for a place to stay within walking distance from the Garden.

As the North End economy takes quite a hit, the people working in it do as well.  The pain can be felt by more than the business owners, but by the many employees as well.  This is where the problem starts to hit home.  The NBA lockout is much more than a sports related story, this is a true economic issue. 

Sports can often be overlooked as simply a game.  But indeed, it is much more.  In fact, the business of sports can be important to more than just the franchise owners and their players.  Sports business and economics are very much related to one another.  Each playing their own roles in the Boston economy. 

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and emailed at

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Arena Football Needs to Come to Boston

By Zach Baru

It is pretty obvious why ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, spends so much time talking about one city.  It’s the very same reason why this city, Boston, was one of the first media markets to receive it’s own dedicated ESPN affiliated website,  No one is arguing the dramatic presence Boston, the seventh largest media market in the U.S., has in professional sports.

At the very same time, the Arena Football League is trying to rebuild itself from its collapse in 2009.  And it certainly has.  Its small market teams from the 2010 re-branded AFL have moved for larger markets, as Bossier City, Louisiana moved to New Orleans, and Huntsville, Alabama moved to the Atlanta area in Duluth, Georgia. 2011 saw expansion to Pittsburg and the return of Kansas City, San Jose, and the popular Philadelphia franchise.  Which leaves the question, what is the state of the AFL?  The answer is better, but certainly not great.

Of the top ten media markets in the U.S., the AFL only has franchises in four of them.  The largest market the league currently has a franchise in is Chicago, the third largest market in the U.S.  However, this team does not even play in the United Center, Chicago’s major arena.  They play at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.  Right here is the problem.  If the AFL truly wants to make a national presence, it has to do just that, and bring the sport to the nation’s major cities.  This is where Boston comes into play.

Boston not only has the demand, a market starving for football, but also has the right venue.  The TD Garden would be a perfect fit for arena football.  We've seen an indoor sport such as lacrosse at the Garden as recently as this past winter, when the Boston Blazers of the National Lacrosse League played their third season in the arena.

With Boston's major sports media outlets of NESN, CSN, WEEI, and 98.5 FM, there would be no shortage of potential broadcasting deals for both television and radio.  The most recent AFL franchise in New England was located in Hartford in 2000, when Fox Sports Net New England carried some of the team's games on television.  The New England Sea Wolves played in the Hartford Civic Center from 1999 to 2000.

As the AFL's improved business model matures, this creates an excellent opportunity for a large market such as Boston to get involved.  There has already been serious consideration from both the league and local investors.  It is in the best interest for the league that a franchise is landed here.  The AFL should not, and can not, continue to ignore a market as significant as Boston.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and be reached at

Arena Football League's Lack of Large Market Presence - Top 10 U.S. Media Markets:

1. New York
2. Los Angeles
3. Chicago*
4. Philadelphia*
5. Dallas-Ft. Worth
6. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose*
7. Boston
8. Washington, DC
9. Atlanta*
10. Houston

* Markets with current Arena Football League franchises

Source: Nielsen

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Public Relations Mistakes Lead to Red Sox Problems

By Zach Baru

Public relations is never a guarantee that a problem will simply go away, but when executed correctly, it always makes the image of the organization better.  Such was not the case with the Red Sox over the last month, where a lack of honesty, information and basic communication have lead to the current public relations nightmare on Yawkey Way.

Staying one step ahead of the media is so important for a professional sports franchise, and making sure you don't fall behind is key.  This was the biggest problem for the Red Sox, who simply took a back seat to all their issues, allowing the media to take them down. 

And although Red Sox Nation hasn't completely fallen apart, the peices are surely beginning to crack.  No venue in any professional sport can sell out every game, every season. It is inevitable that the Red Sox sell out streak will come to an end, and with games in 2011 selling out slower, it gives signs that day is near.  With the end of the sell out streak could be a downward effect on the organization, when broadcast ratings, merchandise sales, sponsorship sales and everything in between begins to decline. 

This is without question a very important time for the Red Sox organization to maintain fan support, which has been such a key factor in driving the franchise to new heights since the new ownership took over.  Honesty needs to be a priority, as the Red Sox can no longer let the media break stories from within the organization.  The public can easliy be angered, but will always be easier to please when telling the truth.

What is so bothersome is that the Red Sox are not using the massive Boston media market to its advantage.  When small market franchises make mistakes, they often anger fans, but are not able to be resolved in the media due to a lack of exposure.  The Red Sox have a much different situation than most other franchises, in that they can use the media to their advantage.  More honesty, more admission of guilt, and less dancing around the issues that fans want answers to. 

This mess won't go away in the media, it will only grow bigger.  But with the right PR moves, it can be fixed. 

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Slap Shots: Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots

By Zach Baru

At Monday's sold out Bruins game against the Avalanche, there sure was a lot of gold to be seen, unused gold seats that is.

Can Boston support an American Hockey League franchise?  In Agganis Arena they can.

I'm not giving up on arena football in Boston.

If the Patriots want to find new ways to ease the traffic flow in and out of Gillette on gamedays, why don't they work with the MBTA and increase commuter rail service?

The Revolution might not have won many games this season, but one thing that was a success was the new seating configuration. 

Kuddos to John Henry, for doing the right thing and appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub Friday.

The loss of the Celtics and Blazers, combined with a poor concert season, makes for a light schedule of events of the TD Garden through March (54).

Fenway Sports Group reaches their one year anniversary as owners of Liverpool FC on Saturday.  Now it's time to bring them to Fenway Park.  

If you're looking for sports business news on television, check out CNBC Sports Biz, Fridays at 7 p.m. on Versus.

What effect will the Red Sox public relations problems have on ticket sales next season?

In tribute to Garry Brown.

Zach Baru can be followed in Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Red Sox Brand Remains Strong

By Zach Baru

For those who believe the Boston Red Sox are simply a "sports team" and not a "brand", one only has to walk down the streets of Boston at any given neighborhood, and at any given time of day to realize how powerful that Red Sox logo really is.  It is everywhere.  It's on hats, shirts, cars, you name it.  Where ever you may go in Boston, you are sure to be somewhere in the presence of one of the most important, and popular brands in all of New England, the Boston Red Sox.

In fact, it is so popular, it dominates the media.  In newspapers, on television or the radio, and social network sites, the Red Sox are constantly a topic of conversation.  There are countless books on the idea of this "fascination" we have for the Red Sox.  So what happens when an event like last night occurs, and an entire region is shocked by an occurrence of events all unfolding within three minutes.  What is the current state of the Red Sox brand?

Is it so strong that it can never be weakened?  Boston has been through this before.  Every generation has their story.  But what is so interesting about what happened last night is not so much the ending, but what lead up to it.  An entire month of negativity, in which case some fans actually wanted the Red Sox to loose.

So hear we are.  This is a very different situation than the one in 2003.  Then, the momentum of the Red Sox brand was not slowing down, it was only growing.  It was feeding off of the hunger for a World Series title.  Eight years later we already have two titles, and with recent success we expect just that, even more success.  

It became evident at the beginning of the season that there had been a bit of a change in Red Sox Nation.  Suddenly, games weren't selling out so fast.  More tickets were available on game days.  And fans were showing up later in the game, and leaving earlier in the evening.  This continued throughout the season, raising the question, is the bubble popping for Red Sox Nation?

From a brand standpoint, as long as the seats are all sold, the ratings are high, and the headlines are still dominated with coverage, the Red Sox brand remains strong.  Even if we go from baseball playoffs to hockey season in a matter of minutes.  Only a brand as powerful as the Red Sox can get away with that.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Review: "All Pro-Panel", What's Next for Social Media and Sports

By Zach Baru

What would the common fan's reaction be to seeing the phrase "@Celtics" painted on the court at the TD Garden?  This was one of many questions being raised, and ideas being brought up at last weeks "All-Pro Panel" at Game On outside Fenway Park.  Although the many high definition television sets inside the bar had games being played, the only discussion from the 125 attendees was the role of social media in professional sports.  

As social media continues to revolutionize the way businesses market their products, social media is making the very same impact on professional sports franchises.  As one of the representatives from four of Boston's professional teams put it, social media is the new form of a press release.  The public relations department of a franchise is no longer the only form of communication or announcement from the team.  News and other information is now instantly released using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The Red Sox are just one example of a Boston team using social media as a way to connect with fans, and promote themselves at the same time.  Their "Tweet Your Seat" promotion has become very popular, having fans Tweet their seat location at Fenway for a chance to win prizes.  "It's a great way to get people involved when they're in the park," says All-Pro Panel attendee Liz Sklar, an Emerging Technology Strategist at allen & gerritsen, an advertising agency in Watertown, MA. As the dependence of traditional media such as newspaper and television starts to decline, the connection between social media and sports continues to grow.

Other highlights from the panel of representatives from the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins:

  • The use of hasthags on television broadcasts of games will continue to grow.
  • Twitter and Facebook are used as a way for teams to get feedback from fans, formerly lead by sports radio. 
  • Leagues have strict regulations for the use of social media by its franchises.
  • Google+ is not a major player for social media marketing by franchises. 
  • Only 25% of Facebook users who "like" the Red Sox live in New England.

Interesting quotes from the panel:

"If you don't engage and leverage your social media followers, the platform is absolutely worthless." - Peter Stringer, Director, Interactive Media, Boston Celtics

"We're not looking for direct ROI from Twitter from a Bruins perspective, we want to really connect." - Chris DiPierro, Director of Marketing, Boston Bruins

"We treat social media responses as one big focus group" - Colin Burch, Director, Marketing and Broadcast Services, Boston Red Sox

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Slap Shots: Revolution, BC, Cannons

By Zach Baru

Sad to see the Blazers' 2012 season suspended, hopefully they will they call another local venue home for 2013.

With the integration of social media and premium seating, the new Putnum Club at Gillette Stadium truly is a "sports marketing playground".

2012 prediction: BC versus UConn at Gillette.

It's amazing, this fall the TD Garden will have a tennis match before a basketball game (October 1, Staples Champions Cup, Agassi vs. McEnroe).

As the weather begins to cool down, the attendance is heating up for the Revolution, with  two consecutive home games having over 15,000 fans.

Nice to see Frozen Fenway reaching out to fans all over New England for their double header on January 7, 2012, with UMass vs. Vermont, and UNH vs. Maine.

From a prospective of broadcast revenue, the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference is priceless for BC.

Arena football and the TD Garden, a perfect match.

Congratulations to the Boston Cannons winning the Major League Lacrosse championship, now move back to Nickerson where you belong.

Will the Dropkick Murphys' concert at Fenway Park's "Bleacher Theater" be a catalyst for future intimate shows at the ballpark?

In tribute to Garry Brown.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blazers to Be Missed in Boston

By Zach Baru

As Boston celebrates a Major League Lacrosse championship, the city looses a big part of the lacrosse community.  Earlier this month and just days after the Boston Cannons won the MLL championship, the Boston Blazers announced the suspension of their operations for the 2012 National Lacrosse League season.  

This is a major loss for lacrosse fans in Boston, which has a rich tradition of not just lacrosse, but professional indoor lacrosse as well.  The original New England Blazers began playing in the Worcester Centrum in 1989 and moved to the Boston Garden in 1992 to become the Boston Blazers.  The Blazers continued to play in the new FleetCenter until the end of the 1997 season when the Major Indoor Lacrosse League became the NLL of today with a new entity and individual team ownership.

Today's NLL saw the Boston Blazers join the league in May of 2007, with their first season at the then named TD Banknorth Garden in 2008.  The ownerships of the two Blazers' franchises had no relation, but both have had the same goal, giving Boston fans a chance to be part of one of the fasting growing sports in the country.  Over the last ten years, the number of high school lacrosse programs in the United States has nearly doubled from 1,600 to over 3,000 today, reason to believe in the long-term success of professional lacrosse.  

And if the last decade has been any indication, the success will come from the indoor game, as the NLL continues to dominate in ticket sales.  In 2011, the NLL averaged 9,722 fans per game, while the MLL averaged 6,417.  It is also noted that four of the ten franchises in the NLL averaged over 10,000 fans per game last year, while the MLL had one such example of its six teams.  This season, MLL's Denver Outlaws averaged 12,331 fans per game, which is much inflated by their annual Fourth of July game in which the city holds a fireworks display at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.  

As professional indoor lacrosse in the United States has a longer history than its outdoor competitor, it is no question that the NLL continues to beat the MLL in attendance each year.  In the NLL's twenty-five year history many of its games, including a large amount of championship games, have seen sell-outs of major arenas throughout all of the United States and Canada.  Attendances have often reached up to 19,000 fans, proving to marketers that the valuable young adult demographic will buy into this sport.

There is no question the NLL will be missed in Boston.  The Blazers have made themselves a part of the community, not only on the field, but off the field as well.  They have reached out to youth lacrosse programs throughout the city, growing the sport, and creating a presence within the community.  Something all franchises should make a part of their daily routines.  It is sad to see them leave, but professional indoor lacrosse has and will always have a rich history in the city of Boston.  Only time will tell what the future holds.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frozen Fenway a Win for All Sides

By Zach Baru

Come January 7 at Fenway Park, there will be more than just two winning teams at Frozen Fenway 2012.  In fact, not only will each of the four teams win from the exposure, but New England Sports Network and Fenway Sports Management will also share the rewards of playing outdoor hockey at "America's Most Beloved Ballpark".

The event will air live on NESN, immediately following coverage of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks in their first meeting since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.  The hype of the Bruins game will be a key addition to exposure for Frozen Fenway, as there is a potential for huge Bruins ratings to carry over to the college doubleheader.

At 4:00 PM the University of Massachusetts and the University of Vermont begin the first game, followed by the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine at 7:30.  This game presents an excellent opportunity for these four schools to showcase their hockey programs in an event that will be getting national media attention.  If there is one observation made from the efforts of Fenway Sports Management's marketing, it's that the events taking place at Fenway are not only seen around the region, but around the entire country as well.

Frozen Fenway 2010, Celtic FC versus Sporting CP in 2010 and various concerts are  examples of FSM's impressive resume of events attracting nation-wide attention.  FSM is the global sports marketing and sales arm of Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC.  From FSM's perspective, Frozen Fenway is yet another opportunity to bring sports and entertainment to Fenway during the winter.   Additionally, they are able to reach out to the entire region by including the Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts to participate.  Fenway Sports Group has spent years making sure the region knows that the Red Sox brand represents not only Boston, but all of New England.   Frozen Fenway is just another example of getting the entire region involved, and bringing them to the ballpark.

And this has been something Fenway Sports Group has been so much better at doing than the other ownership groups of Major League Baseball.  Many of the league's stadiums are just that, baseball-only stadiums.  The problem is that in a revenue-generating business, this is not a great practice.  And this is what separates FSG from the other ownership groups, their ability to provide year-round entertainment.  Honestly, ten years ago, could you imagine The Rolling Stones playing a concert at Fenway?  And for that matter, The Police two years later?  This is what sports marketing is all about.  And as Fenway Sports Group lead the way, they clearly show year after year they know how to do it best.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and contacted at

Friday, August 19, 2011

Slap Shots: Revolution, Patriots, Red Sox

By Zach Baru

Liverpool at Fenway?  Looks like it's only a matter of when, not if.

Sports Business Journal: Providence ranks third in top U.S. minor league markets.  And not too far behind in fifth is Portland, Maine.

With Revolution games at Gillette looking more like open practices, it's about time the Revs go back to their normal seating configuration.

I said it once, and I'll say it again, bring arena football to Boston already.

UMass moves its home games to Gillette Stadium in 2012, and is going to have a hard time moving its fans along with them.

Embarrassing attendance of the month: 49,313 in Tampa against the Patriots on Thursday.

Bruins 11, 10 and 5 game plans are going fast as expected, with only single seats available.

Kudos to Kraft Sports Productions, for excellent coverage of Patriots preseason football.

With concerts at Fenway, it's either love it, or hate it.

After all of this mess is over, how much longer will the Celtics' sell-out streak last?

In tribute to Garry Brown.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, August 5, 2011

Will the Boston Red Sox Attendance Record Be Topped in 2012?

By Zach Baru

What is most impressive of the record reached by the Boston Red Sox attendance last Monday is that there is a substantial chance it will be broken yet again in 2012.  On Monday August 1, the Boston Red Sox sold 3 million tickets during the 2011 season faster than any other season in Red Sox history.   This beats the organization's previous record of August 5, 2009, as the fastest the Red Sox have ever reached the mark of 3 million tickets sold during a season.

Amazingly, but not surprisingly, the Red Sox have sold at least 3 million tickets every year since 2008.  As this marketing-oriented ownership group continues to find unique ways to increase the seating in Fenway Park, they are taking advantage of the high demand, and maximizing the revenues from ticket sales.  The best part is that they are doing it very cautiously, making sure they do not take away from the historic Fenway experience.

What once seemed like a sin, has turned into a fan-friendly way of updating the nearly 100 year old ballpark to 2011 standards.  Other than adding seats, the new high definition video boards are a great addition to the stadium, and an even better addition to the game-night experience for the fans.  Over the last few years, Boston area sports venues have all seen the transition to high-definition video boards.  This was first seen with the TD Garden's HDX board, which uses 360 degree LED screens for a crisp high definition picture.  Soon after, Gillette Stadium added two 48' by 27' high definition video boards behind the end zones.

As the Red Sox try to keep up with the competition, they show no signs of slowing down.  Just last Thursday in a game against the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox had their highest attendance since World War II with 38,477 fans.

So will the Red Sox attendance record be topped in 2012?  All signs point to yes.  The brilliant marketing tactics of this franchise are still as superb as they have been when the new ownership took over.  Their "Paint the Town Red" approach has not gone off track at all.  As the records continue to be broken, they keep packing in the fans night after night.  3 millions times over.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cape League All-Star Game Fails to Attract Fenway Park Crowd

By Zach Baru

There was a lot of green at Fenway Park earlier tonight, green as in empty seats at the Cape Cod Baseball League All Star Game.  Before 7,007 on Friday night, the game was nothing but a marketing failure.  $10 ticket prices and partnering up with Comcast SportsNet were not enough to aid the game, which is becoming a staple at Fenway.  This is the third straight summer Fenway has hosted the game, and hopefully next year's attempt will have a better marketing plan.

Pricing tickets at $10 each was a modest approach.   But let's face it, with 30,000 empty seats, adding additional price levels would have been a better strategy.  Having tickets start at $5 would have attracted more fans, especially the family of four who doesn't exactly expect to drop $40 right off the bat at a Cape League All-Star game.  Additionally, having price levels at $10 and then $20 for the premium seats would have been acceptable.  This would have created the potential for additional revenue, while still keeping the prices at a reasonable level.

The upcoming Futures at Fenway minor league double-header will have tickets starting at just $5.  Why couldn't the Cape League do the same?  With the exception of a few instances, selling a seat for $5 is better than leaving the seat empty and not selling it at all.  Especially after lost concession and merchandise revenue from unsold seats.

Having live coverage on Comcast SportsNet was a great way to reach out to the entire region.  However not nearly enough advertisements were shown on CSN to get the word out.  Having such great media coverage for the game was an excellent opportunity for the Cape League, however they should have used the opportunity more to their advantage.

Aside from all of the failures of this game, just having the game at Fenway can certainly be looked at as a success.  And live regional television coverage is definitely something for the league to be proud of.  It is great that all of New England was able to catch a glimpse of the Cape League, which is of one of the region's finest traditions, and a staple to any summer in Massachusetts.  

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Monday, July 18, 2011

U.S. Women's World Cup Run Key For Boston Breakers' Success

By Zach Baru

With ticket sales booming after the U.S. Women's soccer team made their run to the FIFA World Cup final, the Boston Breakers find themselves in an interesting situation.  Women's soccer interest nationwide is the highest it's been since the 1999 World Cup win, and the Breakers must take advantage of all of the added attention to their sport.  With the unstable condition of their league, Women's Professional Soccer, this is certainly an important time for the Breakers franchise.

WPS, in it's third season, came close to canceling the 2011 season.  With only six teams competing this season, the league no longer has it's west coast franchises.  With the current state of the league, it is essential that the Breakers use this current boost in interest for women's soccer to their advantage.

So the question is, what has the Breakers' marketing done to capture this interest?  The answer is, unfortunately, nothing.  Plain and simple.  They have failed to put themselves in position to turn the increased interest into new fans.  This is sad news to not just Breakers fans, but Revolution fans as well.  Having attention to both the women's and the men's teams is important for creating a strong foundation for a soccer community.

What the Breakers need, starts and ends with the media.  Their media presence has certainly seen an increase from the World Cup, but it is still far from where it needs to be.  Team news, game recaps, and of course, game broadcasts, are no where near where they should be.

Without media attention, not only will people forget about the team, but more importantly, they will not believe the team is worth watching.  And this becomes an enormous problem for the Breakers.  Since a solid broadcasting contract does not happen overnight, this can certainly take a season or two to happen. However, in the short term, stronger media coverage can be accomplished.  Having the media mention upcoming games, scores, news and showing highlights is much needed.

During such an exciting time for women's soccer, the Breakers seemed to rely only on the efforts of fans themselves to join in.  The opportunity this World Cup provided was just too great to call the Breakers' efforts satisfying.  However, it is not too late.  The interest in women's soccer has peaked to a point where the Breakers must capitalize, and turn it into an interest of their own.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Slap Shots: Red Sox, Revolution, Breakers

By Zach Baru

International exhibition or not, it's nice to see a Revolution game at Gillette Stadium with over 50,000 fans.

Pack up, Cannons, and move back to Nickerson Field already.

Waiting for the day when arena football is played in the TD Garden.

It's time to have the commuter rail stop at Gillette for Revs games, getting more fans in the seats.

Hopefully the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship can learn from the failures of last month's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

NESN's Red Sox coverage has reached the point where on-screen advertisements intrude on the enjoyment of the game.

Ripple effect: Providence Bruins offering a "Champions 3 Pack".

Too bad the Breakers aren't marketing themselves to take advantage of the U.S. Women's World Cup success.

Patriot Place has become the model for making professional sports a "destination", and not an "attraction".

Do the Revolution need a new stadium, or just a new brand identity?

In tribute to Garry Brown.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, July 1, 2011

What the Lockout Means for the Celtics Off the Court

By Zach Baru

With the National Basketball Association lockout in its first day, the Boston Celtics have found themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation.  If the NBA does indeed loose a partial or entire season, the Celtics will unfortunately have a few obstacles to face that other NBA teams will not have to worry about.  Blame the NBA, blame the NBA Players Association, but the truth is that this lockout just happened to hit the Celtics at the wrong time.

After the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup win, even if the Celtics do play some basketball this fall, they will see less headlines than last season.  There's no question that the region will have plenty of eyeballs on the Celtics, but the spotlight will not be as bright as last year.  This simply isn't the case in other NBA markets, as basketball often, but not always, beats hockey in popularity.  This can especially be seen in the south.  That is not to say this will happen in Boston all winter, but the Celtics might have to get use to seeing Bruins scores first.

Another headache for the Celtics is that nearly their entire image is marketed around the worldwide popular brand of the "Big Three".   The problem is that loosing an entire season could mean the end of that brand, if Kevin Garnett does not return.  And the way that he has been talking to the press since the start of last season's playoffs, this is looking more and more like a reality.  Can the Celtics brand survive with a loss like Garnett?

Celtics pride is undeniably here to stay, but if the lockout takes away a season, it easily could take away this chapter of the Celtics brand with it.  And a new marketing concept will be made.  We just may have seen the rise and fall of the promotion of the Big Three.   It has been quite a difference from the days of the '06-'07 season when the Garden was three-quarters full.  And that was on a good night.  What started with a press conference welcoming Garnett and Allen, became a national tour to sold-out arenas of fans just wanting to see those three players.

If a lockout does wipe-out the season, and Garnett does not return, it will be back to the drawing board for Celtics marketing.  They will need a new concept to brand, and a new image to capture.  Hopefully it will not come down to that.  Unfortunately, the reality is that the two sides between the owners and the players are no where near an agreement.  There is just too much money on the line, suggesting that this lockout could potentially go well into the winter, if not canceling the upcoming season.

And so the headaches continue for the Celtics.  With the Bruins winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972, and the future of the Big Three in doubt, there is no one to blame.  This lockout just happened to hit the Celtics at the wrong time.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kraft Family, Patriots Continue to Help Community in Wake of Tornado

By Zach Baru

The Kraft family provide an excellent example of how a professional sports franchise and its fans can work together to achieve more than just sports and entertainment.  Last week, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation came to Springfield, Massachusetts to pledge to match up to $100,000 of donations made to the United Way to help the victims of the June 1 tornado.

As if that was not good enough for a region that was hit by the tornado just three weeks prior, the Patriots returned to Springfield three days later for a free youth football clinic.  It is efforts like these that make the Kraft family and the Patriots a model for all franchises, showing the great bond that can be made between a franchise and its community.

The charitable efforts the Patriots have made throughout New England is a great example of what reaching out to the community can do for a franchise.  They literally have become part of the region, making it so much easier for the fans who do not necessarily like football to still root for the team.  Starting the foundation in 1994 was key for establishing the team as not just a source of entertainment, but a part of the community as well.

And for communities like Springfield and Monson, among others that were hit hard by the tornado, the Patriots will always be a part of the community.  It is a great concept that the Kraft family perfects so well, and really makes their franchise more than just a football team, but an important part of the entire region.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Report Card: Boston Bruins Parade

By Zach Baru

Boston Bruins: A+

For the lucky fans that were able to attend the parade, last Saturday was an amazing opportunity to see so many of the players up close, and experience the excitement that can only be fulfilled in the midst of a Stanley Cup.  Everything from the production to logistics was excellently planned out, and made for a great celebration.  This included not only the players, but all personnel.  Everyone from coaches, to scouts, to media, to front office was on hand to celebrate.

Many signs were placed on the duck boats so that fans could easily read who was on each boat.  The organization was excellent.  What was really a nice touch was the fact that players were able to communicate with the fans via microphones and speakers on the floats.  The players shouted messages to the crowd, giving the fans a real chance to feel a part of the celebration.

Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority: D+

First, the stats:

Number of passengers on commuter rail Saturday (the day of parade): 120,000
Number of passengers on commuter rail normally for weekdays: 67,000
Number of commuter rail trains added for parade: 90

Although there were plenty of fans who were able to take commuter rail, subways, and busses to the parade route, there were also many fans who were simply shut out.  For Boston, a city of 645,000 people, that is just not acceptable.  There most certainly should have been a better plan for transportation to and from the parade route.  The MBTA has been through championship parades seven times since 2004, and has no excuse not to have done the job right. 

Many of the commuter trains were run without double decker cars, which would have vastly increased the amount of passengers able to ride the trains to the parade route.  In addition, during the parade, many sets of trains were spotted vacant in the yard just outside of North Station.  Whether it be a lack of planning, or a lack of staffing, the bottom line is the MBTA failed to do it's job.

Boston Police Department and Boston Fire Department: A+

Besides the fact that an estimated 1,000,000 plus people attended the parade, the route went past countless bars with an unbelievably controlled crowd.  The overall behavior was something that not only the city should be proud of, but the Police and Fire departments should be proud of as well.  It was an excellent execution on their part to pull off such a large parade in such little time.  The many police and fire dispatched to the parade were a large reason for the peaceful and organized outcome of the parade.

City of Boston: B-

Overall, the city should be celebrating due to the fact that the parade was held on a weekend, greatly impacting the Boston economy.  Not only did the restaurants, bars and hotels see a substantial one-day revenue increase, but stores of all kinds saw new customers who may soon return.  Not to mention the fact that Saturday was one giant commercial for the city, showcasing all of the great attractions Boston has to offer.  

On the other hand, the transportation mess was inexcusable, certainly with the many modes of travel that the city has to offer.  And with the parade partially being an advertisement for the city, more money could have been put into production costs.  This would have given the presentation a more eye-catching effect to the millions who viewed it either on news broadcasts, sports broadcasts, and internet media worldwide.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bruins Parade Has High Costs, Big Rewards

By Zach Baru

Unfortunately Mark Cuban won't be here to pick up the tab, but the city of Boston is anticipating the rewards to outweigh the costs for Saturday's championship parade.  Streets will be packed from the TD Garden all along the parade route to Copley Square, as numerous bars, restaurants, and businesses of all kinds will see huge spikes in sales.

This is much welcomed news to any business along the parade route, as crowds are expected to be enormous given the scheduling of this year's parade.  Having it on a Saturday lets the city fully capitalize on the parade's tourism impact.  Commuter rail will be offering a special $10 round-trip ticket, and additional subways will be run, both in anticipation of the unusual amount of people expected to try use public transportation.

Not only does public transportation bring in more revenue, the city benefits from the simple promotion of showing what it has to offer.  With fans driving from near and far, this parade is more than just a celebration, it's an advertisement for the city.  The more people the parade attracts, the potential for future tourism increases.

No official word has been given on what the price tag will be, however whatever that figure is will not be a clear representation of the parade's effect.  Even if the costs outweigh those of the Celtics' 2008 championship parade at $360,000, the city will still benefit.  Tourism dollars will likely take weeks to be tallied, but one can be sure that it will be a significant impact to the local economy.

Saturday is much more than just a championship parade for the city.   It is a unique opportunity to show 1,000,000 spectators everything Boston has to offer.  Whether it be local restaurants or shops, or city museums or parks.  Saturday will be a chance to generate tourist revenue, but also to potentially generate it for months and years to come.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What the Bruins Stanley Cup Win Means for the Boston Economy

By Zach Baru

The Boston Bruins may have won the Stanley Cup Wednesday night, but they weren't the only big winner in the city.  Bringing a championship to the seventh largest media market in the country meant big economic impact for many Boston businesses.  And fortunately for any sports-related business in the city, this is only the beginning.

With so much passion and excitement now being displayed for the Bruins, restaurants and bars surrounding the TD Garden will greatly benefit from the increased number of people flooding the streets in and around Causeway Street.  Area businesses will see packed bars and restaurants on game nights, meaning more revenues for the local business owners, and more job opportunities for bar and restaurant staff.

The flow of pedestrian traffic in the North End shows no signs of winding down, as the Bruins had to cap their season tickets at 13,000 last season, and have again sold out of season tickets for 2011-2012.  This is good news for downtown hotels which will see similar benefits to that of bars and restaurants.  As the Bruins keep packing the crowds in, the potential for local businesses continues to grow.

And that growth is certainly not limited to hospitality.  As the foot traffic around the arena grows, so will numbers of potential shoppers for all businesses.  It's a win for the Bruins, and an even bigger win for the city.

On the other side of the spectrum, the state of Massachusetts sees its share of benefits through increased sales tax revenue.  Anyone eating before, during, or after the games will pay 6.25% sales tax on meals.  For any of the 1,150 cars that can fit into the TD Garden garage, the state collects 21-cents per gallon in gasoline tax if they choose to fill up.  And lastly, for the remaining of the 17,565 fans per game who opt to take public transportation to the Garden.  The arena is accessible to two subway lines, and four commuter rail lines, bringing in even more revenue for the state.

The bottom line is that it's not just the Bruins who are profiting from a championship, it's the entire local economy.  On game nights, the TD Garden isn't the only place full of fans.  The bars are packed, restaurants are filled, and businesses all around Boston are seeing the success of a hockey team flourishing the local economy.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at