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