Monday, December 28, 2020

What to do with the empty space on the floor at TD Garden and around the NBA

By Zachary Baru

It's a problem only the year 2020 could give the Celtics and teams around the league - what to do with all of that empty floor space without fans at the games?  Typically at TD Garden or any other National Basketball Association arena, the court is surrounded by about three rows of seats on each side of the court, while the ends usually have ten or more rows set as "risers" extending into the lower level.  But in a pandemic, with the Celtics and most teams playing in empty arenas, that is just not the case anymore.  

Or should it still be?  No, not seats with fans, but just the seats themselves.  Watching the game on television, the sight of a court with no seats is not always so visually appealing.  And let's face it, sports have basically become "made for TV" in 2020.

If you've ever gone to a minor league basketball game in a large arena, this not-so-great visual of empty floor space is nothing new.  Many G-League and other minor league teams have battled this problem for decades.  Even scenes of the old American Basketball Association show that teams struggled with figuring out what to fill in floor space with.

It's an issue that does not get a lot of press, but during this 2020-21 season, you can't watch a game without noticing it.  Some teams have done a great job, as seen in Sunday night's Celtics game against the Indiana Pacers.  The Pacers have filled in empty floor space with not only an additional press table, but also a new car on display.  This has been done in other leagues, and even on concourses inside NBA arenas in the past, but to see a car right next to the court of an NBA game is an interesting use of space.  

For the Celtics, watching a game at TD Garden without seats on the floor has an issue: TD Garden, unlike Indiana's arena, is built for hockey dimensions.  Most NBA arenas have this design, where the floor's corners are curved, rather than arenas such as the Barclays Center that are angled inward.  The Barclays Center was built with the ability to have hockey, which it has had, but was ultimately designed for basketball.  Since the TD Garden does have a hockey design, an empty floor would be just that - very empty.  

It might be more visually appealing to add seats even if they are unused, and would also add an interesting perspective of seeing a completely empty floor, and a completely empty arena.  It’s a rare sight for sports fans, and once it’s all over, hopefully we won’t have to see it again for a very long time.

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

Monday, August 10, 2020

Revolution will host regular season matches once again at Gillette Stadium as 2020 season restarts

By Zachary Baru

The New England Revolution may have lost in the Round of 16 in the MLS Is Back Tournament last month, but fortunately for fans, the Revs will have another life in the 2020 season.

Major League Soccer is set to restart the season this month, with home games played at teams' venues, including the Revolution's Gillette Stadium.  The Revs will return to regular season action in Foxborough on August 21, but unfortunately for fans, the stands will remain empty.

The Revs are scheduled to play six additional games in a phased-approach just announced by MLS, three of which will be at Gillette Stadium.  All three home games will remain closed to fans, who will be able to watch all games live on regional and national television.

Five of the six games, including the first on August 21, will be broadcast regionally of NBC Sports Boston, with one game on August 29 against Red Bull New York televised live nationally on FS1.

While the news is mixed for fans and the businesses at Patriot Place that rely on games to drive foot traffic and sales, it ultimately is a first step towards bringing soccer back to local markets during the league's fight to keep players, fans and staff safe during a pandemic.

On a typical Revolution game day between March and November, shops, restaurants and hotels at Patriot Place see a large increase in walk-in traffic and revenue.  This is an enormous help during the summer months, since Patriots home games only affect August through January.   And with questions over the upcoming National Football League season, these businesses could potentially be hit with even more months of lost revenue.  Whether or not the Revolution will be able to host fans for the second phase of scheduling remains to be seen.  But one thing is for sure, plenty of businesses at Patriot Place can only keep their fingers crossed, as the pandemic continues to threaten both sports and the local economies where the games are played.

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Massachusetts Pirates to unveil new league, venue plans for 2021 season

Less than a month after news officially was released that the Massachusetts Pirates would not be returning to the National Arena League, the franchise has announced a press conference set for Wednesday, August 19 to discuss the team’s future.

According to the Pirates, an announcement will be made to announce which league the Pirates will be joining for the 2021 season.  The Pirates’ venue plans for the 2021 season will also be announced at the press conference, which will be held outside the DCU Center in Worcester.

Since 2018, the Pirates have called the DCU Center home, and have given no signs that they will make any venue changes for the upcoming season.

One potential league the Pirates could join would be the Indoor Football League.  The IFL was founded in 2008, comprising of 13 teams throughout the country, mostly in the western region of the United States.  But after the IFL announced last month that an expansion franchise was awarded to Columbus, Ohio, the possibility of an east coast team in the IFL is more realistic.

Details for this story are still unfolding, as more information will be released by the Pirates on August 19 during their press conference.  Stay tuned to Twitter @zbaru for continuing coverage and live tweets of the press conference.

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

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Benefits and drawbacks of streaming TV for Boston sports fans

By Zachary Baru

If you’re a Boston sports fan considering streaming television in 2020, there’s plenty of factors to consider before making the decision that is now culturally referred to as “cutting the cord”.

Sports fans, and especially New England sports fans, have very unique factors to consider, especially since the regional sports market is not dominated by one particular network.  Since the four regionally televised sports teams, the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Revolution are on both NBC Sports Boston and NESN, the obvious question for any fan would be, “does my streaming service have both of these networks?”

Unfortunately for one big option, the answer is no.  Hulu does not offer NESN on its live TV service, which even has an entire website dedicated to the issue.  It is unfortunate since Hulu’s platform is excellent for sports fans, and would be a perfect option, if not for the lack of NESN.

Hulu, like YouTube TV, makes watching live and on demand sports easy, telling you exactly what is live and allowing you to watch it right away.  Hulu also gives fans the chance to see what games they missed from their chosen favorite teams along with an option to instantly watch it again.  This is very similar to YouTube TV, but Hulu does it in such a modern and easy way that any sports fan would definitely enjoy.

YouTube TV, however also has their version of showing fans what is available for sports and makes it very easy to watch, along with having NESN, a big, big plus for any Boston sports fan.  Xfinity from Comcast, however, has their own way of showing you what is live for sports, along with a scoreboard and the ability to simply click on the game and watch right away.  You can even use their Sports App right from a button on the remote, making it very easy for fans, while offering what is a perfect picture quality for all games.  Not to mention, Xfinity carries both NESN and NBC Sports Boston, as Comcast is the owner of latter.

Boston sports fans will definitely have a lot of options when deciding how to watch their teams in 2020, as the live TV landscape becomes more crowed and extremely competitive.  In the end, customers and fans will win, giving fans the opportunity to watch sports when, how and where they want to watch.

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