Thursday, December 31, 2015

Three things Boston sports business found out in 2015

By Zachary Baru

1. The Olympics will not be in Boston in 2024.

After a long campaign to bring the Olympics to Boston in 2024, ultimately it was decided that the city will not be hosting the games less than nine years from now.  The Olympics in Boston could have been a massive economic boost for the city, and all of the shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels throughout the region.  The Olympics would have been an effective advertisement for the entire world to view, showcasing everything Boston and parts of Massachusetts has to offer.  This, however, many feared would have come with an expense that the Commonwealth does need, and what many felt, does not want.  The argument over the pros and cons of hosting an Olympics will most likely go on for many, many years.  But one thing is for sure, much of the sports and entertainment industry in the region would have loved to be part it.  Both Gillette Stadium and TD Garden were part of a long list of possible venues that could have hosted events.  In addition to cities in the eastern portion of the state, the list of venues extended to Western Massachusetts as well.  Apparently some people in Boston still believe that Massachusetts extends past Framingham.

2. TD Garden's mixed-use development plans look stunning, and ambitious.

The future for TD Garden may one day consist of much more than an 18,000-seat arena and a major transportation hub.  Delaware North Cos., parent company of TD Garden and the Boston Bruins, have plans for a mixed-use development adjacent to TD Garden and North Station that will transform the arena and station into a center for commercial and residential use, as well as transportation and entertainment.  This project will be one to look out for in 2016.

3. Gillette Stadium makes a great venue for outdoor hockey.

After years of wondering what Gillette Stadium would be like to host an outdoor NHL game, this past week has shown the region that Gillette truly is a great host for the Winter Classic.  The real question is why did it take so long for outdoor hockey to come to Foxboro.  Hosting the game at Patriot Place will allow fans to make an entire day out of the game, with shops, restaurants, bars, entertainment and a hotel.  Gillette is proving to be a wise choice for the NHL and Bruins to host this annual event.  The only problem is that now we may be running out of New England venues to host the event in the future.  Can you say East Hartford in 2020?

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gillette shines as host to busy weekend of sports and entertainment

By Zachary Baru

From music, to soccer, to football, Gillette Stadium covered it all this past weekend, entertaining  more than 146,000 fans to three separate events in three busy nights.

The weekend began with an Ed Sheeran concert that packed Gillette with a crowd of more than 52,000 fans. The show was Sheeran's largest U.S. concert to date, two years after opening for Taylor Swift in the same venue.

Following the game, the specially designed stage and floor seating had to be broken down for a Revolution game the next night against the Philadelphia Union.  The crew worked overnight to ensure the stadium was set for soccer, which would be only the first of two sporting events in two nights.

The Revolution game drew 25,885 fans, another big crowd for the Revs, which also drew 18,854 on Saturday, September 5 against Orlando City.  As the Revs continue to play good soccer, the New England fans continue to respond at the gate.

After the Revolution game on Saturday evening, the Gillette Stadium crew continued to work overnight in preparation for Sunday's Patriots game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sunday's Patriots game, like all Patriots games since the Kraft family purchased the franchise in 1994, was sold out with a crowd of 68,756 fans. 

This brought the total number of fans attending events at Gillete Stadium over the weekend to over 146,000. With a hotel, various upscale and casual dinning restaurants and bars, The Hall at Patriot Place, an upscale movie theater, concert venue, retail shops, and of course a first-class stadium, Patriot Place is one of the few lifestyle and entertainment centers across the country that can successfully and appropriately accommodate three large events in three nights.  Still, that must have been lot of spring rolls to serve at Davio's over the weekend.

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

Source: The Boston Globe, Major League Soccer

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Western Mass. could help Boston 2024's venue problem

By Zachary Baru

As venues become more and more of an issue for Boston 2024's Olympic bid, a sometimes forgotten resource may need to become a bigger part of the plan: Western Massachusetts.

Yes, remember Western Mass.?  That part of the state that exists far beyond the I-495 belt.  During a time when land for stadiums is becoming an issue, why not explore an area that has nothing but land?  Western Mass. has a tremendous amount of resources that extends far beyond that current plans of one lone venue, the Deerfield River.

The MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Western Mass., with cities such as Springfield, Pittsfield and Holyoke - all of which have rich sports histories, and two of which have halls of fame - provide outstanding opportunities to host the Olympic games, in an area where traffic is currently not a problem.  Western Mass. may have an abundance of land for venues, but its biggest asset is the venues it currently has.

The MassMutual Center in Springfield is an 8,000-seat arena (6,663 seats with fixed seating) that was renovated in 2005 with the construction of an adjacent convention center.  Together, the arena and convention center offer a spectacular opportunity to host any type of event that should find its way to Springfield.  As for accessibility, the MassMutual Center is located off of Interstates 91 and 291 and minutes from Interstate 90.

The venue is also within walking distance of Union Station, which is currently under construction to become the Union Station Regional Intermodal Transportation Center in 2017.  This rail and bus terminal will be home to Amtrak, Peter Pan and Greyhound.  A combined 12 daily trains connect to cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  Another daily train makes the trip to and from Boston.  As for buses, Springfield offers several trips to Boston, New York and Albany.

Still not sold on Western Mass.?  Another venue just up Interstate 91 in Amherst is the 10,500-seat Mullins Center (9,493seats for basketball), on the campus of the University of Massachusetts.  The Mullins Center was built in 1993 and has hosted a number of large concerts and NBA exhibition games, as well as UMass basketball and hockey games.  It should also be noted that the venue includes an adjacent ice rink that could be covered for practices and other use.  As for public transportation, Peter Pan offers several buses each day with connections to Boston and New York.  Amtrak provides service to Northampton, just one town away.

If venues are the issue, look no further than Western Mass. to help bring some additional options to the Boston 2024 Olympic bid.  The Deerfield River currently serves as the sole Western Mass. venue, which will be called upon to host canoe slalom events.  But with Springfield being the birthplace of basketball, and Holyoke being the birthplace of volleyball, it is only fitting that Western Mass. be called upon the Olympic stage, should the games ever become a reality.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kraft Sports Group announces new academic partnership with Dean College

By Zachary Baru

College-bound students looking to enter the world of sports business just received a new opportunity to jump-start their careers, thanks to a new academic partnership between the Kraft Sports Group and Dean College.

The Kraft Sports Group announced plans last week to partner with Dean College to create The Center for Business, Entertainment and Sport Management, along with a new scholarship program and the introduction of an internship program giving students a hands-on experience within the Kraft Sports Group.

The Kraft Sports Group's holdings include the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Patriot Place, Gillette Stadium and The Hall at Patriot Place.  The Kraft Sports Group is under the umbrella of The Kraft Group, a holding company with assets in paper and packaging, sports and entertainment, real estate, and private equity, in addition to philanthropic initiatives including the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.

This new academic partnership will bring students looking to enter a career in business a chance to work with Patriots and Revolution executives and the ability to use Gillette Stadium as a laboratory for learning.  Additionally, student-athletes at Dean College will be given access to training facilities through the Patriots and Revolution organizations.

Regionally, sports organizations will benefit from the program by increasing the number of home-grown talent in the Boston area.  As the sport management major continues to grow in colleges nationwide, it is becoming more important for regional colleges to keep local talent here in New England.

This is an exciting time for all business students at Dean College, who will be given the opportunity to receive a true hands-on education from leaders in the sports business industry.

Sources: Dean College, The Kraft Group, Forbes

Zach Baru can be followed @zbaru and reached at

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A look at the numbers: Super Bowl XLIX broadcast

By Zachary Baru

If you though the only records broken during Super Bowl XLIX came from on the field, think again.  Sunday night was a record-breaking night off the field with 114.4 million viewers nationwide, the most ever for a television program in the U.S. according to Nielsen.

After two weeks of nothing but numbers and analysis leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, why not look at just a few more - only these can't be worked into your fantasy team next season.  Below is a look at the numbers from Sunday's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX on NBC, a broadcast that went multi-platform including television, internet, and mobile.  With the game being broadcast on the NBC Sports Live Extra app, fans had the chance to watch the game anywhere they went.  And fans sure came out in large numbers to do so, giving NBC an earth-shattering rating on televison, but also the second screen as well.

U.S Viewers:
114.4 million

Streaming Viewers:
1.3 million


Change From 2014 Rating:
+4 percent


Top Local Ratings:
1. 61.0 (Boston)
2. 55.7 (New Orleans)
3. 55.6 (Phoenix)
T-4. 55.0 (Detroit)
T-4. 55.0 (Norfolk)

Commercials Shown:

Cost for 30 Second Commercial:
$4.5 million

Facebook Posts, Likes and Comments Relating to Game:
265 million

Tweets Relating to Game/Halftime Show:
28 million

Source: Nielsen Media Research, The Wall Street Journal, SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily, NBC News, Detroit Free Press, CNBC

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

Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX sets U.S. ratings record

By Zachary Baru

There is no doubt that the much awaited Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX lived up to its billing, especially since preliminary figures show the telecast had the largest U.S. television audience, according to Nielsen.

Sunday's Super Bowl was viewed by 114.4 million people on NBC, topping last year's Super Bowl between Seattle and Denver which was seen by 112.2 million viewers on FOX.  As sports networks continue to compete in the growing area of digital content, NBC made this year's Super Bowl available on the NBC Sports Live Extra app.  Streaming for the coverage totaled 1.3 million users, according to NBC.

As for the rating, Sunday's Super Bowl earned a 49.7, meaning 49 percent of households with a television watched the program.  This year's rating was up 4 percent from last year's 47.6 rating. In the Boston market, the game drew a 61.0 local rating.

This year's game also earned a 72 share, as 72 percent of televisions in use were tuned to the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

In a game full of star power from both teams, and a match-up consisting of some of the very best players in the game from both sides of the field, the strong ratings were no surprise.  Time will only tell how long this record rating will last, as four of the last five Super Bowls have delivered a new viewing record.

Top Super Bowl XLIX Local Ratings:
1. 61.0 (Boston)
2. 55.7 (New Orleans)
3. 55.6 (Phoenix)
T-4. 55.0 (Detroit)
T-4. 55.0 (Norfolk)
Source: Nielsen Media Research, The Wall Street Journal, SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily, NBC News, Detroit Free Press

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Follow-up: Over 5,000 fans witness first NLL game in New England since loss of Blazers

By Zachary Baru

For the region's lacrosse fans, Friday night was all about the return of indoor lacrosse to New England for the first time in more than three years.  The Mohegan Sun Arena was the site, as 5,768 fans saw the New England Black Wolves top the Buffalo Bandits 12-8 in the franchise's first National Lacrosse League game in Uncasville, Connecticut.

While the attendance was reported in the media as a success, area sports fans will have to give a little more support if they wish to see the team succeed off the field.  The NLL may not have the national television exposure that the four major sports leagues have, but the league still sees its fair share of large crowds.

With nine franchises from Connecticut to British Columbia, the league remains strong and shows the potential for growth.  One success of the league is its reach to the mobile viewer, which comes at a time when online digital content continues to be a major emphasis for the sports and entertainment industry.  The NLL's partnership with ESPN is currently in its fourth-straight season, as 21 games will be broadcast live on ESPN3, available on and the WatchESPN app.

Friday's game at the Mohegan Sun Arena was broadcast live on ESPN3, and a replay can be viewed anytime on WatchESPN.

The Black Wolves continue their first season at the 9,323-seat Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday, January 10.  The previous NLL franchise that played in New England was the Boston Blazers, playing at TD Garden from 2009 through 2011.

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