Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Solving the Boston Blazers 2012 Arena Problem

You remember the promise that I made to the kids when they wanted to see the Boston Blazers play again last year?  You probably don't, but the kids did; and when they asked me to go to a game in January 2012, I "happily" obliged.  I mean who could resist taking impressionable children to watch lap dances, cocked teenagers vomiting everywhere and Dan Dawson and Oh! Cosmo?  But when I went to the Blazer's website to purchase tickets, I read the bad news.  The Boston Blazers have suspended operations as they continue to look for a new arena to play in.  The Boston Blazers have folded!?!  You mean the team isn't playing at all next year?  Are you telling me that the team folded over the Summer of 2011 and I'm just finding out about it now?

Is this the last Blazers game we're going to see?
So the Blazers, negotiating with TD Banknorth Garden officials in the midst of the NBA Lockout, couldn't come to an agreement on leasing the Garden for a handful of home games this Winter?  I honestly find that surprising.  While neither of the games we went to were sell outs, the team brought in 8,000-10,000 fans a game - not bad for a sports that is barely burgeoning out from the shadow of Soccer.  And a lot of the fans that attended the games were teenagers or younger, all wearing their Dawson or Powell jerseys.  How did this get screwed up?  Judging by the lack of clarity of the team's actual status (look at the Team's official Twitter feed and Facebook pages and you wouldn't know the team folded, except for a couple of fan's acerbic comments) and the fact that the entire team's website is just an undated message from the Team's President Doug Reffue espousing the virtue of Blazers' lacrosse with no forwarding information, the reason was all too apparent.  It's a real shame.

But I have an idea that may save Blazers Lacrosse, puts a little life into a struggling venue, and provides a fan base desperate for professional sports to root for an outlet.  Not only that, but the venue's name is a perfect match for the team's name.

Uncasville, CT.  Mohegan Sun.  While the team struggles to partner with a local arena that doesn't serve beer like Conte Forum or is in a slightly undesirable location (think Worcester Centrum or Tsongas Arena), Mohegan Sun Arena is there waiting for another money-making enterprise.  Amidst a struggling economy that has reportedly resulted in a 20% drop in revenues at "the Sun," trying something like the NLL would make a lot of sense.  And with the team out of running for a 2012 schedule (The team's dispersal draft was in September 2011), the arena could juggle its entertainment lineup in 2013 to accommodate 8 home games during a notoriously slow time of year.  Of course, Friday and Saturday nights are popular nights at Mohegan, but games can be scheduled for late afternoon, or early evenings on Saturdays or even on Sundays.

And Connecticut and Rhode Island are lacrosse hotbeds similar to Massachusetts with successful high school lacrosse programs along the Connecticut coastline. Southeastern Connecticut, and all of Connecticut for that matter, is desperate for some professional sports to root for.  One can just tell that UConn's basketball programs are headed for a downturn (scandal for the Men's team and backlash for the Women's team) and these sportsgoers will need another team to cheer.   And while the Connecticut Sun's attendance is below the WNBA average, a professional women's basketball league serves a demographic that doesn't go to a casino on Saturday nights for some shenanigans; it's not a great fit.  Lacrosse would fill that void that the WNBA has created.

A team based in Connecticut may also start drawing interest from metropolitan New York.  Teams based in Rochester and Buffalo just are not going to draw interest from someone living in Queens or Westchester County.  A team, however, based at a casino in Connecticut may draw interest from New York City, particularly if the team conducts some marketing activities in the City.  It will work.

And did I mention the coincidental naming conventions?  The Connecticut Blazers playing at the Sun.  I can just hear the PA announcer call for Dannnnnngerous Dan Dawson and Oh!!! Cosmo.  It's just too perfect.  Contact me when you're ready to find out more, Mr. Reffue.

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