Statement from Howard Baldwin, Jr. Regarding Hartford Hockey

HARTFORD, December 2, 2011:  Since returning to Connecticut in 2010, we here at Whalers Sports & Entertainment have worked tirelessly, and accomplished much, in our goal of returning Hartford to preeminence as a hockey market.

CT WhaleWe put on a Whaler Fan Fest two summers ago that delighted 5,000 Whaler enthusiasts, with a celebration of the great Whaler tradition.  We took over the operations of the market’s AHL franchise and re-branded it with a new identity, leading to a significant increase in the franchise’s revenues.  We expended tremendous amounts of capital and resources in a landmark outdoor hockey festival, which culminated in the first professional outdoor hockey game in Connecticut, the Whale Bowl this past February.  And just last month, we outlined and articulated a vision for renovating the XL Center and re-energizing it as a catalyst for downtown activity and atmosphere.

We will continue to leave no stone unturned in our quest to prove to the hockey world that the Hartford market is a tremendous hockey hotbed and deserves to be mentioned alongside some of the most passionate and committed in the sport.  As we do that, we challenge the fan base of the area to step up with a similar level of intensity and sense of urgency.

The holiday season not only signals the arrival of festive celebrations, but also the real meat of the hockey season.  We are over a quarter of the way through the season, and the rivalries are picking up, the points are getting more important and each game means more and more.  So there is no better time than now to jump in with both feet and help make a statement that this market cares deeply about the sport and is willing to support it in a significant way on a nightly basis.

We have great faith that there is more than enough interest and passion in the sport of hockey in Connecticut to make it the top market in the American Hockey League, with the potential for much more.  We need every hockey enthusiast in the area, though, to share our vision and the excited anticipation of five-figure crowds on a regular basis at the XL Center, and what a dynamic atmosphere, and eye-opening buzz, that would create.

Together we need to eliminate the lulls like the crowd of less than 2,000 that attended Tuesday  night’s Whale game, which turned out to be a great, gut-check win, a 4-2 victory over the Hershey Bears in the first-ever pro meeting between Hall of Famer Ray Bourque’s two sons, Ryan Bourque of the Whale and Chris Bourque of the Bears.  And we need to make the highs higher, get 10-12,000 rocking the XL Center on the good Friday and Saturday-night dates, which there is plenty of potential to do, with many excellent weekend dates coming up after the First of the Year.

With more than three-quarters of the home schedule still left to be played, a multi-game plan, or even a season ticket, is still a great investment.  And Whale single-game tickets are as affordably priced as any entertainment option you could possibly find.

Now is the time to push the Whale to new heights, and we have to do it together