Friday, June 20, 2014

What the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center expansion could mean for the NFL Draft

By Zachary Baru

While the chance of Boston luring the NFL Draft from New York may seem like a Hale Mary, a June bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate has helped Boston's chances of making the draft a reality.

The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill last Thursday that would allow for a $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  The bill was passed 31-6.

The convention center, located in South Boston, lacks the size of competing venues across the country, in addition to lacking an adequate number of adjacent hotel rooms.  The expansion would allow the convention center to be more competitive with venues nationwide, enabling Boston to attract more conventions into the city, boosting the region's economy.

What does all of this mean for Boston's chances of hosting the NFL Draft?  According to a report in May by the New York Post's Bart Hubboch, Boston was one of seven cities to apply to host the NFL Draft. later reported that Mayor Martin J. Walsh has expressed interest in hosting the draft in Boston.

As the convention space expands, the opportunity for Boston to host the draft will grow along with it.  Hosting the draft would be a big win for the city, bringing in thousands of media members, fans, and both league and team officials.  Economic benefits would range from packed hotels and restaurants, to additional local and state tax revenue.

Regardless of whether the convention center expansion opens the door for the NFL Draft in Boston, the project is a much needed step in making Boston more competitive with other large cities for conventions and events.  While the chances of the city hosting the draft seemed like a long shot, the convention center expansion just may have changed the game in Boston.

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bruins finish third in local-market TV ratings

By Zachary Baru

During a season that saw the Bruins finish with the Eastern Conference's best record, Bruins fans proved their loyalty to the franchise, enough to help the team finish third in local-market TV ratings during the 2013-14 season according to SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily.

The ranking only represents franchises that make their Nielsen data available.

Bruins games on NESN averaged a 5.04 rating in the Boston market.  But the high rankings did not end there, as the Bruins also finished second in average audience size (123,000).

This is an impressive display for the Bruins, which play in a media market that is only the seventh largest in the U.S according to Nielsen.  The Bruins' high ratings are an example of the strong support the fans have for the franchise, which shows no signs of slowing down.

With a two phase, $70 million renovation of TD Garden beginning this summer, the franchise appears to be once again heading in the right direction.  As the fan-base remains strong, the renovated arena should be completed in time to ensure long-term success for the Bruins off-the-ice.

Source: SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily, Nielsen

Zach Baru can be followed @zbaru and reached at

Gillette a popular concert stop in 2014

By Zachary Baru

Patriot Place will be packed with concert-goers in 2014, as some of the biggest concerts of the summer will be making the stop in Foxborough at Gillette Stadium.

The thousands of fans will pour into the shops, restaurants and hotel at Patriot Place, the lifestyle and entertainment center covering more than 1.3 million square feet adjacent to the stadium.  This means big business for restaurants and bars both before and after the concerts, a characteristic that makes this concert venue so special.

Saturday night's George Strait concert featuring Tim McGraw and Faith Hill attracted 55,863, packing the stadium.  Beyonce and Jay Z bring their "On the Run Tour" to Foxborough on July 1, for which a limited number of tickets remain.

Come August, the stadium will be booked for concerts four nights in a row.  Two-night stadium stands are rare in the concert industry, but that is not enough for One Direction, who will be coming to Gillette for a three-night stand August 7-9 featuring 5 Seconds of Summer.  And to end a busy week in Foxborough, on August 10 Luke Bryan featuring Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell will close out an impressive summer of concerts.

Not every 68,000-seat stadium can attract such a lineup of concerts, but the site is so much more than just a stadium.  Economic activity in Foxborough is also generated from dinning, shopping and the adjacent hotel.  Patriot Place creates an atmosphere built for big events, and it is no wonder why this venue continues to be a popular destination for concert-goers in New England year-after-year.

Zach Baru can be followed @zbaru and reached at

Patriots' "Field Day With Dad" offers a unique connection to fans

By Zachary Baru

The New England Patriots have a unique way of strengthening the connection with their fans, while holding a community event that honors key members of their target market: fathers.

The Hall at Patriot Place's second annual Field Day with Dad will take place on Father's Day, June 15 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.  Visitors will be given access on the field at Gillette Stadium, a special experience allowing fans to throw footballs and take pictures with Patriots cheerleaders.  Inflatables will also be available for fans to use.

The event is a perfect example of how franchises can bring fans closer to the team, and in this case, literally on the field.  A fan's perception of a franchise is so important, and the Patriots have hit a home run with this event, which personalizes the relationship with each fan who attends the Father's Day event.

Anytime a fan attends a sporting event, the experience is what will bring them back to the venue.  The Father's Day event is a chance to create an entirely different experience, an interactive one that is arguably more of a lasting impression than simply watching a game.

Like last year's event, this year's event has sold out.  Tickets were $20 for adults, and $10 for children, and include access to the Hall at Patriot Place and a 10 percent discount at the Patriots Pro Shop on June 15.

Kudos to the Patriots for giving fans an opportunity to share the same experience their favorite players have - without the danger of getting tackled by an NFL player.

Source: New England Patriots, The Hall at Patriot Place

Zach Baru can be followed @zbaru and reached at