Season tickets and corporate sponsors increasing for AHL franchise; 5 TV games scheduled
By Brian Coyne
Journal Inquirer HARTFORD — “This year, we have no excuses.”
That’s how Mark Willand, senior vice president of operations for the Connecticut Whale, views the American Hockey League franchise’s prospects for the 2011-12 season off the ice.
The Howard Baldwin father-son partnership has had control of the Whale’s business side for a full year now, and the organization is brimming with optimism that attendance and interest will take a great leap forward this season, starting with the home opener against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the XL Center on Saturday night. Season-ticket sales have tripled and corporate sponsorships are on the rise, the team says.
Howard Baldwin Sr., chairman and chief executive officer, is delighted with the weekend-heavy home schedule, and while there are no over-the-top spectacles in the works on the order of last season’s two-week outdoor hockey festival at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, he is still thinking big.
“Last year was about as difficult a year as I could have imagined,” he said at the team’s media day Thursday. “This year is that much more promising.”
One tangible sign of progress is a five-game television deal with WCCT-TV20. Billed as “Whale TV,” it is the franchise’s first TV exposure in the local market since the 2006-07 season. The TV games will be Dec. 10 (Providence Bruins), Jan. 28 (Springfield Falcons), Feb. 18 (Worcester Sharks), March 10 (Norfolk Admirals), and March 31 (Adirondack Phantoms).