Page 13 - BusinessWest April 28, 2021
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 For the T-Birds, All Eyes Are on the Fall
“Baby steps.” That’s what
Nate Costa, presi- dent of the American Hockey
League’s Springfield Thun- derbirds, says the team is tak- ing as it looks to return to the ice — and its place as a huge part of Springfield’s economic engine — this fall.
Such steps include sell- ing season tickets, trying to secure some attractive dates from the league from home games, doing some prelimi- nary planning of promotions, and putting together a new staff after most members of the old one — furloughed
at the height of COVID-19
— found employment else- where. Most, but not all, of these assignments would be part of a normal late April for the team — but this is cer- tainly not a normal April, nor a normal year.
Nate Costa expects a great deal of pent-up demand for professional hockey in the region.
Indeed, while 28 of the 31 teams in the AHL have been playing out an abbreviated 2021 season, the T-Birds are one of three franchises, all inde- pendently owned (the Milwaukee Admirals and the Charlotte Checkers are the other two) that have chosen to suspend play for the year and wait for 2021-22.
Costa doesn’t have any regrets about the decision not to play this win- ter and spring, saying the call was certainly the correct one from a busi- ness perspective — “at the end of the day, we made the right decision for the long-term solvency of the franchise; it was something we had to do” — and noting that his energies are completely focused on the 2021-22 season.
And as he talks about that upcoming season, he does so with a great deal of confidence about everything from pent-up demand for his prod- uct to what this new team he’s assembled can do between now and the time when the puck finally
drops again in Springfield —
October, by most estimates.
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look at the City of Homes and its pros-
pects for not merely turning back the clock to the vibrancy it enjoyed pre-COVID, but taking further steps forward.
Food for Thought
As the owner of one of the more prominent and visible restaurants downtown, Kashouh has long been a popular voice with the local media when it comes to commentary about business downtown and the impact of everything from the casino to the Thunderbirds; from concerts at Symphony Hall and the MassMutual Center to, yes, those gymnastics competitions.
As he did son again with BusinessWest, he first flashed back to the view in very early 2020, a time when, as he put it, “the pieces had fallen into place and every- thing was clicking.”
Over the past 13 months, of course, most of the pieces have fallen out of place, he said, adding that most of the key ingredients for success at his establishment — the shows on weekend nights; the hockey games, conventions, and other events at the MassMutual Center; and, especially, the downtown office workers — have been mostly missing in action as a direct
result of the pandemic.
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BusinessWest COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT APRIL 28, 2021 13

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