Friday, December 28, 2012

Will Bruins fans come back?

By Zachary Baru

In recent years the Boston Bruins have enjoyed a boost in popularity through exciting young talent and better on-ice performance, highlighted by a 2011 Stanley Cup title.  Just one year after they had once again climbed back up on top of the Boston sports scene, are they in danger of falling back to number four again?

Not quite so fast.  Out of all of the sports markets in the U.S., Boston is one of the best hockey markets.  If there is any effect on attendance or broadcast ratings, the Bruins should not see as much of a decline as many other National Hockey League franchises.

Hockey's roots in Boston begins at the youth-level.  Unlike many other areas, youth hockey programs in Boston are vast and well-developed.  Add this to the number of colleges in New England with hockey programs compared to other regions of the country, and it can be seen why hockey has such a strong presence in New England.

While Boston is a traditional hockey market, the NHL also has many non-traditional markets as well.  These will likely be the franchises to be hurt the most, especially teams who have made recent improvements in building a fan base.  Take the Florida Panthers for example, who have seen a significant increase in ticket sales, along with better on-ice performance.  The momentum they have created in their market is now in jeopardy.  

The same can be said about the Los Angeles Kings, last year's Stanley Cup champions, who saw enormous amounts of 2013 season ticket sales during last year's playoffs.  These are the teams that will be hurt the most from this lockout, while back in Boston there will be minimal damage.  

After the last lockout in 2004-05, the Bruins' average attendance for 2005-06 was 16,211.  That was up from 15,133 fans per game in 2003-04.  If the Bruins were able to increase their attendance post-lockout during a time of declining interest in the team, they should have no trouble retaining their fans in 2013.  Hockey will always be a part of the fabric of this city, the NHL lockout cannot change that.

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Celtics' court configuration catching on around NBA

By Zachary Baru

The Boston Celtics are somewhat of pioneers in the NBA.  No, not for anything basketball-related on the court, they were one of the first to change a common area of the arena - the court itself.

It has seen a lot of changes in the past few years, most noticeably the addition of two extra tables, along with additional courtside seats, and moving the announcers to their own table on the opposite side of the court.

This new configuration is entirely centered around the television exposure of courtside advertisements.  By having two new tables, one on each end of the court next to the team benches, courtside advertisements are able to be seen no matter where the action is taking place on the court.  Whether the camera is fixed on the home teams' end, the away teams' end, or the center, courtside advertisements will be seen by the millions watching on television.

These ads receive about 15 percent more exposure with the new configuration, and you can understand why other NBA teams have caught on to the innovative configuration.  One of the most recent teams is Cleveland, who changed the set-up of their scorer's table this season.

The next time you watch the Celtics on CSN, notice how often you can see the courtside ads.  This increases the value their sponsors get from courtside advertisements, making this a growing trend all around the NBA.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NHL Lockout Affecting Boston Economy

By Zachary Baru

It is easy to dismiss hockey as a factor in the economy of the nation's seventh largest media market.  But for Boston, each home game that is lost in the current National Hockey League lockout represents a substantial economic loss.

The economic impact of an average Bruins home game is estimated between $850,000 and $1 million.  Anytime you have 17,000-plus fans pouring into an arena, both the neighborhood and the city forfeit the revenue of any event-related purchases.  While the economic impact is felt by the city, the real effects are on the small business owners that rely on hockey to bring in patrons.

The largest example of this are restaurants and bars, mostly in the North End, who see a large increase in business during game-nights.  Aside from the owners who are taking a financial hit, the employees also see a loss in earnings.  Hotels around the area can be effected as well, as fans, media and teams will be coming into town for the game.

If you are still not convinced, take a look at this.  Out of 30 NHL franchises, the Bruins were one of sixteen who sold out every home game last season.  Take the 17,565 fans who entered TD Garden each night, and multiply that by 41 home games.  The Bruins attracted 720,165 people to the North End during the regular season, each of whom represented a potential economic impact.

Many of the 700,00-plus fans coming to TD Garden for hockey games last season used public transportation, either by subway or commuter rail to get into North Station.  This is an example of a loss of revenue to the state, not to mention the loss of state sales tax revenue for any event-related purchases.

Without the NHL, Boston's economy will not crumble, but the league still represents an economic boost for the city and state.  From government, all the way down to small business owners and employees, the loss of the NHL will be felt by much more than just Bruins ownership.  For the city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is significantly important hockey returns to TD Garden.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Developments May Come Soon About Breakers' New U.S. Women's Soccer League

By Zachary Baru

Promising news came earlier this evening about the status of a new U.S. women's soccer league.  The Boston Breakers already announced in August that they would be members of a new league, along with seven other franchises, including a new team in Seattle.

Tonight during a halftime interview at the U.S. Women's National Team exhibition in East Hartford, Connecticut, U.S. Soccer President Sunil K. Gulati told NBC Sports Network that "I think over the next 10 days, we'll have some interesting things to say", when asked about a new women's league.

Gulati also mentioned that U.S. Soccer has been working with investors and the Canadian Soccer Association regarding the development of a new women's league.  This is great news for the Breakers, who earlier this year competed in the semi-professional Women's Premier Soccer League Elite (WPSL Elite).

A crowd of 18,870 fans braved rainy conditions at Rentschler Field in East Hartford tonight for an exhibition match between the United States and Germany, ending in a 2-2 draw.  These two teams also played before a sold-out crowd of 19,522 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois on Saturday, ending in a 1-1 draw.

After playing from 2009 to 2011 in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) at Harvard Stadium, last year the Breakers played at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, selling out all 7 home games with more than 2,000 fans per game.

The comments from U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati this evening made for an encouraging night for U.S. women's soccer.

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

MLS Wakeup Call: The Revolution Has Already Begun

By Zach Baru

Last Sunday, CenturyLink Field in Seattle had 66,452 screaming fans.  If your first reaction was wondering who the Seahawks were playing, you would probably be surprised to find out that it was not an NFL game at all.  It was a Major League Soccer match.

And if that wasn't interesting enough, it was not a playoff game, and there were no special promotions or double-headers with international teams.  Sunday in Seattle was just plain MLS soccer.  And the city, along with many others in the country, is falling more and more in love with it.

So where does this revolution in MLS leave our own Revs?  Well, for now, it's sort of the calm before the storm.  While Gillette Stadium will not routinely get over 60,000 fans for a Revolution game, there is no reason why within 5 years a scene like Sunday in Seattle cannot happen in Foxboro at least once a season.  And the chance of seeing attendance pick up close to the 20,000-range in the near future looks promising

Last year at Gillette, 51,523 fans came to see the Revolution play an exhibition match against Manchester United.  Of course this was not an MLS match, but it is still encouraging since it was played on a tough drawing Wednesday night.  Although the Revolution's average home attendance this season was 13,281 (and 13,222 in 2011), poor on-field play and the lack of a soccer-specific stadium has long hurt the Revs.  With the demand other MLS markets are seeing across the country, such as Seattle, Portland and Kansas City, the rise in popularity of the MLS will soon come to New England.

The Boston area, along with the rest of New England, has an enormous amount of youth soccer programs.  With MLS thriving, these youth are more and more likely to grow up fans of their MLS team, and continue to support the team as they grow older.  This is where the MLS has an advantage over the NHL, NBA and MLB, where popularity is more steady, and not exactly increasing much.  Even though this is the same old story soccer fans have been preaching since the 1970's during the days of the North American Soccer League, along with Pele and the New York Cosmos, this time soccer actually has a stable league in MLS that has learned from the mistakes of the old NASL.

The Revolution will ride the success of teams like the Seattle Sounders, and will capitalize off the success of MLS as the league grows, into growth of its own.  They have solid ownership in the Kraft Sports Group, and a market that embraces soccer.  When the on-field performance improves, so will the response off the field.  It is only a matter of time before the revolution in MLS comes to New England.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Three Renovations TD Garden Needs

By Zach Baru

The latest renovations at TD Garden will be an even better makeover of suites than you will find on any HGTV reality show.  The suites will include many state-of-the art features including ways for companies to brand themselves to clients they are entertaining during the games.

The new and innovative renovations are a great step forward for TD Garden, which has certainly done its fair share of minor and semi-minor renovations in the past.  But for the 18,000-plus seat arena built in 1995, it continues to be out-dated in many ways.  As newer arenas offer different ways to appeal to fans, TD Garden will have to keep up.  Here are three ways they can do it:

1. Integrate with social media.

To encourage fans to tweet where they are, or just tweet about the team in general, small screens could be added in the arena devoted to displaying any hastags related to the Bruins, Celtics, TD Garden, or the event that is taking place.  Not only would this promote the venue, teams and events, but it would also get the fans more involved.  Would this have to be monitored?  Absolutely.

2. Install LCD monitors in the loge concourse for commuter rail status.

The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey offers fans walking in the concourses during the end of events the chance to view LCD screens with the status of commuter rail, which is just blocks from the station.  As soon as fans leave their seats, they can view screens showing train times, track numbers, and status of trains taking the 13 mile trip to New York City.  There is no reason why this cannot be implemented to the concourse of TD Garden, making it easy for fans taking the commuter rail below the arena in North Station.

3. Add colored lighting to the roof over level 9.

An underrated feature of TD Garden is the outside lighting they have at night, which really jazzes up the arena.  Between the new sign on Causeway Street, and the lighting on the outside roof, the arena looks very modern for a venue built in 1995.  Why not add similar colored lighting to the roof over level 9 in the arena?  It is already lit-up all around the interior of the arena, but adding color similar to the red lights Mohegan Sun Arena uses would be a great way to create a new vibe at TD Garden.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru.  He can be reached at

Friday, August 24, 2012

Can the Boston Cannons Pack Harvard Stadium for MLL Championship?

By Zach Baru

The 2012 Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend will be at Harvard Stadium on Saturday, and for Cannons marketing, this could not be a better opportunity.  They are the defending champions of MLL, and unlike the championship season last year, the two potential post-season games will be in Cambridge.

Last August in Andover, Maryland at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the Cannons won the league's title before 5,027 fans.  This year, Harvard Stadium will most likely be a bit more filled, as the Cannons' final home game earlier this month drew 9,056 fans.  High attendances this season, coupled with on-field success should result in setting attendance records this weekend at Harvard.

A 4 PM start on Saturday does not help, and box office tickets that are purchased on gameday are a little high at $30.  One thing that is certain, is if the Cannons were to reach the final on Sunday, the game would give them excellent exposure, as Sunday's game will be aired live on ESPN2.  The Cannons have benefited from the presence this season's Comcast SportsNet broadcasts gave them, but a live ESPN2 appearance would really give the Cannons needed attention.

As the Cannons have seen great attendance figures grow in recent years, this is a chance for them to capitalize on having the championship at home, and also showcasing their brand to fans who may not know much about them.  Last year's title did earn the Cannons headlines, and also appearances on the field at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, but this weekend they can truly obtain maximum media exposure.

The Cannons should be able to top 10,000 fans for Saturday's game, and if they reach the championship Sunday, they could surpass their franchise record of 11,894 fans set earlier this year in June.  The Cannons title last year before 5,000 fans in Maryland may not have stopped the presses, but this year a potential title in front of 10,000-plus fans in Harvard would really make an impression here in Boston.

2012 Boston Cannons Home Attendance:

April 28 vs. Rochester: 9,174
May 5 vs. Charlotte: 9,273
May 12 vs. Hamilton: 11,277
Junevs. Long Island: 11,894 (franchise record)
July 19 vs. Denver: 7,743
July 28 vs. Chesapeake: 9,117
August 4 vs. Ohio: 9,056

Average: 9,648

Source: Boston Cannons
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Liverpool vs. AS Roma Draws New Fenway Soccer Record

By Zach Baru

Wednesday's soccer exhibition at Fenway Park was about more than just bragging rights, this was a pure celebration of the sport at one of America's most famous stadiums.  A new soccer record crowd inside Fenway of 37,169 watched AS Roma beat Liverpool 3-2, but it was the sport of soccer that was the real winner.

The previous soccer record was set during the last game in 2010, when 32,162 fans watched Celtic FC top Sporting on penalty kicks after a 1-1 regulation tie.  Wednesday's game became the 20th time soccer was played at Fenway.  Back in 1968, Pele made an appearance at Fenway, when Brazil's Santos F.C. played the Boston Beacons of the North American Soccer League in an exhibition game.  It is no surprise that the Beacons lost 7-1.

Although this year's game received an immediate buzz when it was announced months ago, the brilliant marketing efforts of ESPN helped greatly on the TV-side.  In 2010 the game was produced live by NESN, and simulcasted nationally on Fox Soccer Channel, with beloved broadcaster Jack Edwards calling the event.  While that game was successful, at the time Fox Soccer Channel was only distributed to 36 million U.S. households.

Wednesday's game was televised live on ESPN2, unfortunately without the call of Edwards, which is distributed to 98 million U.S. households.  This was a significant improvement for the publicity and viewership of the Fenway event.

As the event will be remembered as a success, hopefully this promotes future soccer games at Fenway Park.  Just as too many hockey games at Fenway would take away from the excitement, too many soccer games would be just as damaging.  But one appearance a year would make for a special event at the stadium, and a Revolution appearance would be even better.  Fortunately for soccer, the future looks bright at Fenway.

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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why the NFL Should Make the Patriots' London Trip Permanent

By Zach Baru

Even if every ownership group in the National Football League disagreed with having the Patriots become a permanent visiting team to London, you can't argue with the fan base New England has across the pond.  Just visit, and see for yourself.

The Patriots certainly have a strong following in New England and all around the United States, but across the pond, the Boston-London connection has transitioned to american football.  If you think the Liverpool soccer match at Fenway later this summer will be loud, wait until the Patriots travel to a sold-out Wembley Stadium with over 90,000 fans.  And you can bet the vast majority will be for the Patriots.

It is not only in the Patriots' best interest, but the entire league, that a strong fan base is awarded a chance to see the team they so passionately support.  And even if certain fans in England do not have a specific NFL team to root for, establishing a connection to one team each year will increase their chance of following the league passionately.

For travel purposes, the Patriots make an excellent candidate to visit London over other franchises.  Not to mention they have an ownership group that understands the importance of international outreach.  The Krafts want to do much more than just sell merchandise.  They want to continue a following that has maintained their support for many years, creating an international fan base many franchises do not have.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Celtics Marketing Needs Big Three

By Zach Baru

For the next five minutes, forget about anything that happens on the court.  Just think of each of the 18,624 seats in the TD Garden that have been filled every single game for 4 of the last 5 seasons.  It is this reason alone that the "Big Three" are just as much of a marketing presence on the court, than a defensive presence on the court.

With the exception of the 2009-2010 season, the Celtics sold to 100% capacity each season since the 2007-2008 season, when Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett came to Boston. For some reason, during the '09-'10 season, the Celtics' average attendance was 455 seats short of selling out every game.  Still, at 18,169 fans per game, the effect the Big Three have had on the box office is obvious.

Before their arrival, the Celtics had not sold out a season since the last season in the old Boston Garden, 1994-1995.  This drought is something the Celtics would not like to incur again, and the Celtics would be best playing it safe and milking the brand of the Big Three out for everything it is worth.

This current version of the Big Three still has the fascination and attention of the region.  This has been displayed in ticket sales this season, which was not suppose to turn out the way it did.  Earlier in the year, demand was so low that the Celtics were wisely lowering ticket prices via Facebook on certain game days to as low as $24 for box office tickets.

As it turned out, the season ended with another 100% capacity, a trend that can only continue with the region in demand for a product that is, well, in demand.  Without the Big Three, this would be a challenge.  With them - and yes, all of them - the Celtics should enjoy another season of box office success.

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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cannons Find Success On and Off the Field

By Zach Baru

As the Boston Cannons continue their undefeated season at Harvard Stadium, the fans are showing their support, with crowds thus far reaching 11,000-plus.  Through 3 home games, the Cannons average attendance is 9,908, very impressive for a franchise who barely gets any media attention.

While playing at the 109 year-old Harvard Stadium certainly has its benefits as an attraction in itself, there is also the capacity issue.  If the the Cannons still played at their former venue Nickerson Field at Boston University, all of their games this year theoretically would have been sold out.  At the 30,323 seat Harvard Stadium, they are playing to a one-third capacity.

Between the historic setting that Harvard Stadium provides, and the lively atmosphere that can be found in Cambridge, the Cannons have established a very good relationship with the community.  They might not be getting the media attention they would like, but the fans continue to show their support.

As the growth of youth lacrosse continues across the region, the Cannons are on their way to increased popularity in the years to come.  While their league continues to establish itself, the Cannons will grow even stronger as a franchise.

Major League Lacrosse averaged 6,417 fans in 2011, with 3 teams carrying the weight, and the remaining three teams drastically decreasing the league's average attendance.  The Cannons finished second in the league with 8,661 fans per game, and this year they look to increase that as the heart of the season is yet to come.

Selling out Harvard Stadium may be far-fetched, but as the Cannons keep winning games, the loyal fans continue to fill the cavernous stadium with a sport new to its century-long history.

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

Boston Cannons 2012 Home Attendance:

April 28, 2012 vs. Rochester:  9,174
May 5, 2012 vs. Charlotte: 9,273
May 12, 2012 vs. Hamilton: 11,277

Source:  Boston Cannons, Major League Lacrosse

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What Really is the Demand for Red Sox Tickets?

By Zach Baru

Lately it has been hard to avoid the local media's opinion of the Boston Red Sox "sellout streak."  And yes, it is also hard to avoid saying that phrase without using quotation marks around it.

While the Red Sox may in fact operate their ticket sales in a similar manner to other professional sports franchises, what has become indisputable is that demand for Red Sox tickets down.  Extremely down, as a matter of fact.  But just how bad is it?

Ace Ticket has denied involvement in purchasing any unsold Red Sox tickets to continue a sellout steak.  If these two organizations haven't teamed up to do this already, judging by the prices on, they better start soon.  Bleacher seats for Monday's game against Seattle are available for $15 per seat. A pair of grandstand seats starts at $17 per seat.

If that isn't enough to excite you for a night on the town, then go to, where bleacher seats start at $5 per seat for a set of 3 tickets, and a pair of grandstand seats start at $7 per seat.

As this team continues to disconnect to its core fans, the decrease in demand for tickets will not slow down.  The Red Sox cannot keep waiting for this mess to sort itself out.  While Boston sports fans have always been a very forgiving group, Red Sox fans are voicing their message loud and clear.  And now that message has slipped into the secondary market.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Red Sox Commercial Crosses the Line

By Zach Baru

When it comes the history and tradition of the Boston Red Sox, everything and anything is very sensitive among the faithful fans who have been coming through the Fenway Park turnstiles their entire lives.  So what makes it right for a recent Red Sox commercial to have superimposed logos of NESN and Jordan's Furniture on the Green Monster with Luis Tiant pitching?  One hundred years of tradition points to all signs of crossing the line.

It is hard to conceive the efforts of the Red Sox to "celebrate" Fenway Park's 100th birthday when we see added graphics of corporate logos on what once was an all-green wall.  If the Red Sox are attempting to honor their history, they should spend more time actually honoring it, rather than partnering up with Jordan's Furniture.  While fans understand the revenue corporate sponsors bring to the Red Sox, this sends the wrong message to fans of the importance of Fenway Park's history.

If the Red Sox wanted to include NESN and Jordan's Furniture, it wouldn't have hurt to place the sponsors at the end of the commercial, stating they are official sponsors of Fenway Park's 100th season.  This would have preserved the historical accuracy of the clip, and even have brought more attention to their sponsors.

The next time a commercial is made commemorating the history of the Red Sox, it should be approached with just that in mind, the sacredness of this franchise.  Fans have adjusted to many changes over the years of Fenway Park, but putting a 21st century impression on events of the past simply crosses the line.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Liverpool to Come to Fenway, What About the Revolution?


By Zach Baru

Soccer will once again return to Fenway Park this summer, as Liverpool takes on AS Roma on July 25.  It is any New England soccer fan's dream to see a match at Fenway, but absent is the appearance of New England’s very own club, the Revolution, which are currently three games into their regular season. 

Even though Liverpool does have a Boston connection, a doubleheader with the hometown Revs would have made the occasion even more special for New England fans.  Not to mention, additional opportunities for Fenway Sports Group to cash in on the extra revenue from a second game.  From the Revolution’s standpoint, a game in front of potentially 37,000 fans would have been a great opportunity for the team to showcase their product.

There would have been a lot of great advantages to adding a doubleheader to the Liverpool game, but having such an event take place would certainly have its complications in order to become a reality.  Agreements would have to come from Fenway Sports Management and the Kraft Group, owners of the Revolution.  Additionally, approval would be needed from Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing for everything from field conditions to broadcasting.  The Fenway Park field would certainly be a concern to ensure a quality surface for a regular season game to be scheduled.

And as for the soccer game to be played at Fenway July 25, it will definitely be an exciting occasion for soccer fans everywhere.  But imagine if our Revs could be part of this event.  It would be a great way for the Red Sox to truly capitalize on an already special day for soccer in New England.  And furthermore, the Revolution would be able to reap the marketing benefits the Bruins enjoyed when they took over the ballpark for the 2010 NHL Winter Classic.

It may be a long-shot, but having the Revs play at Fenway would be a great opportunity for all sides.  Next year, let’s make it happen.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bruins' Account Executives in Mid-Season Form

By Zach Baru

Just because the Boston Bruins are sold out of season tickets does not by any means give the account executives reason to slack off.  That could not be further from the truth.  They are hard at work, making sure passionate Bruins season ticket holders and plan holders are taken care of 365 days a year.

With interest in the Bruins at the highest level in decades, the Bruins are making sure they do everything to keep their fans happy.  Package holders are given the personal touch they deserve, and more specifically, the attention the money they spend deserves.

As the season winds down, time approaches for a new season of renewals.  And soon after that, a window of opportunity for new plan holders.  Season tickets have been capped yet again this season, and providing first-class service is key to the Bruins to retain sales, and fans alike.

A small example of the personal touch executed by the Bruins this season came during the holidays.  Bruins holiday cards were sent out to plan holders, with a personal note from their account executive.  Is this going to make a plan holder renew every season for the rest of their life?  No, but it certainly plants the seed for the bond the Bruins are trying to create between the team and the fans.

These days it may be hard to find organizations that operate with principles like this, but it almost always are the successful ones that understand the concept.  We are fortunate enough to have a few of those right here in Boston.  And the Bruins are no exception, focusing on personal connections that translate into passionate fans.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Slap Shots: Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics

By Zach Baru

Get ready, TD Garden, March Madness is right around the corner (East Regional, March 22-24).

A Green Monster in spring training?  How can you not like Jet Blue Park, the new Red Sox facility in Fort Myers.

It’s not a new Nickerson Field, but it’s New Balance Field.  The name of the 2013 facility that will give BU athletics an alternative to Nickerson.

Number of the week: 5,093 (UMass-Lowell hockey attendance February 10 vs. Merrimack).

Watching the Bruins on NBC Sports Network only reminds me of how much better NESN broadcasts are.

Welcome back to New England, American Hockey League All-Star Game, January 28 in Providence.

Arena football season is approaching, but until the AFL finds ownership in Boston, this major market will continue to be without a franchise.

What to watch for this summer: A possible exhibition match between Liverpool and AS Roma at Fenway.

It's getting a little embarrassing how many suites are left vacant at each Bruins home game.

As the NBA trade deadline nears, what direction will Danny Ainge decide to go with this team?

In tribute to Garry Brown.

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

Monday, February 6, 2012

Patriots' Legacy Not Affected By Super Bowl XLVI Loss

By Zach Baru

Many have speculated if Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVI loss to the New York Giants has changed the legacy of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  Any way you look at it, this is simply not true.

The franchise will continue to be looked at as a first-class organization in New England, as well as around the league.  As much as fans and media nationwide despise the success of the Patriots - the ownership, management and coaching staff are always praised upon.

The National Football League investigation referred to as “spygate” certainly hurt the Patriots’ image, but it did not destroy it.  This franchise continues to produce strong teams year after year, and in adverse circumstances.

As the Patriots continue to always be a factor in the NFL, their reputation as a successful and classy organization will continue.  Some comparisons being made to the Buffalo Bills are not even adequate, as the Patriots have consistently been considered a threat every year for most of the last ten years.

The respect for The Kraft family is what truly carries this franchise, as it should.  Their ability to lead this organization to the class that it has become has been an inspiration for the entire league.

The image of this franchise will remain unchanged from Sunday’s Super Bowl loss.   It still stands for everything it did over the past decade.  Sunday's game could have gone either way, and just being a "couple of plays short” doesn’t change the image of a dynasty still hungry for success.

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Patriots-Giants Super Bowl XLVI Will Make TV Ratings Record

By Zach Baru

You do not need anyone to tell you Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI has all of the ingredients for ratings gold.    But will it top last year's ratings record of 111 million viewers when the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers?  All indications say yes.

It's pretty simple, two of the most recognizable figures in sports facing each other with two giant media markets.  It's the perfect formula for television ratings, and on Sunday, it will likely set the all-time record for the highest rated Super Bowl, and highest rated U.S. program of all-time.  Last year's game was more than just a worldwide television event, it was a game featuring two franchises with some of the most passionate followings in professional sports.

But when it comes to numbers, how well do the Packers and Steelers compare to the Patriots and Giants?  They don't.  The Patriots' average away attendance in 2011 was fifth in the league with 70,580.  And who was number one?  That's right, the New York Giants with 74,544.  The strong fan bases between the Patriots and the Giants, in addition to the massive media markets they represent, may very well be just enough to create the highest rated U.S. television program of all-time.

Will the fact that this game is so region-specific hurt the ratings potential?  No, because there is still enough of a west coast following for both of these teams.  This Super Bowl simply has no flaws for a potential television ratings record.  As fans across the country anticipate the big game, the NFL can be nothing but proud of what the outcome may be.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bruins Not Up-Front With Thomas' Actions

By Zach Baru

The Boston Bruins may be focussing their attention on hockey-related business, however it's the business off the ice that has been stirring the most attention this week.  Tim Thomas' decision not to attend the Bruins' visit to the White House has dominated the Boston media, and shows no signs of slowing down soon.

As the Bruins organization lets this debate continue, members of the Boston media have started to question and speculate tension within the organization.  This would be the time for the Bruins to be up-front with the situation, but this is not happening.  Instead, the Bruins are letting the media and fans determine the direction of this debate, which at times completely gets off the topic of politics.

This here is the problem.  The spotlight is getting put on internal matters of the Bruins' organization, and it is surprising not to see more of a response by the organization themselves.  This debate is not going to end right away, especially in this town.

Although this is a unique situation, there are still some similarities between this and the season-ending media mess the Red Sox experienced in 2011.  The Red Sox took a back seat to the attention, and let the media dictate the outcome.  The Bruins should learn from the mistakes by the Red Sox, and be more up-front with an obviously sensitive issue.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time Slot for Patriots and Tebow's Broncos Could Prevent Record

By Zach Baru

If you think the ratings for tonight's Patriots-Broncos playoff game are going to be of record-setting caliber, just imagine what they would be on a Sunday afternoon.  Traditionally, Saturday nights are not great nights for television ratings, which could possibly prevent any records from being set by tonight's playoff game.

The last time the Patriots faced the Broncos, the game recorded a 19.5 overnight rating, as 28.2 million people made it the highest rated game for CBS since 2007.  Add this to last weeks 42.4 million viewers  that watched Tim Tebow and the Broncos beat the Stealers, and this sets up the potential for record-breaking ratings for tonight's game.

The only problem is that tonight's game could produce better ratings had it been scheduled for tomorrow, in the 4:30 time-slot.  Late Sunday afternoon games generally do exceptionally well in the ratings.  The 4:15 and 4:30 start times produce better ratings than the earlier 1:00 time slot due to the added west coast audience that a later time brings in.  

Had this time been given for the Patriots-Broncos game, it is very possible that many records would be set.  Given the current time, this game will likely not reach its full ratings potential.  The NFL is very upfront, and focused on giving its games the opportunity to assume the maximum amount of exposure they can receive.  One such example in recent years is the way in which the NFL has handled its flex scheduling.

It is very possible that had the NFL been able to make a change in start time for tonight's Patriots-Broncos game, it would have done just that.  A disappointing effect of tonight's game time is the inability to truly measure what the appeal of Tebow brings to the ratings.  With so many potential marketing opportunities for the NFL involving Tebow, knowing exactly what he can bring to the ratings would be a great measurement for the league.  Instead, an unpopular time-slot will have to do.

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