Study outlines Thunderbirds’ economic impact on the region
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - We are just days away from the start of the 2023-2024 Springfield Thunderbirds season and as fans prepare for game one, we’re getting a look at the true economic impact the franchise is having on the city.
“We had to be special. That’s what I keep coming back to when I think of our franchise. We need it to be special in everything that we do,” said Springfield Thunderbirds President Nate Costa.
The AHL regular season gets underway for the Thunderbirds on Saturday, but the team is already celebrating for a different reason: the large economic impact it has had on the city since late 2016, from big business at restaurants to job creation.
“We collectively put a game plan together seven years ago and, as I sit here today, I can probably say we have outdone that,” Costa added.
Costa broke down the numbers. Research done by the UMass Amherst Donahue Institute shows the Thunderbirds had an average of 6,162 fans last season, almost 800 fans more than the season before. The team’s overall economic impact is $126 million dollars, with 68 percent of the fans spending money at a bar, restaurant, or MGM Springfield.
In addition, T-Birds fans from 38 states participated in the study, with more than half of them – 59 percent - reported attending at least six games every season and 236 jobs were created last year, 18 more jobs than the year before.
Those are statistics that make a city that has had an American Hockey League team for more than 80 years proud.
“The income per job is approximately $76,000 for the Pioneer Valley and each job at the Thunderbirds creates and/or supports 3.28 other jobs in the Pioneer Valley,” Costa explained.
Costa also said some key theme nights are in store for this year, including a holiday sweater game, teddy bear toss, and Hockey Fights Cancer. With the puck soon set to drop, leaders like Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno are hyped up.
“We’re going to look forward to another Calder Cup run. I’ll proudly wear my chain and how ‘bout them T-Birds,” Sarno said.
How much of an economic impact will the Thunderbirds have this year? We will have to wait and see as the regular season begins this Saturday at 7 p.m. when they take on the Hartford Wolf Pack.
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