Falcons playing for pride, not playoffs

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD " Professional sports franchises are bought and sold based on revenue, not necessarily for the love of the game, its fans or players.

Well out of playoff contention with 12 games left in the season, Falcons fans are still filing into the MassMutual Center out of enjoyment for the overall experience and love for their favorite hometown hockey club.

Falcons General Manager Bruce Landon explained that even though the team has lost the battle for a playoff spot, players are fighting for contract renewals and a chance to play for the Edmonton Oilers.

Players are not happy [about the outcome of this season] but on the other hand they are professionals and they lace up their skates [for every game], he said during an interview with Reminder Publications. There is always something on the line for the guys the opportunity to be called up for Edmonton or future contracts.

Landon explained that for the casual fan, Falcons hockey is about a night out and a place for family entertainment.

There s more than the wins and losses for families and kids, he added.

John Dobrydnio, a Falcons fan, agreed.

I have great memories of being a kid and going to the games with my family, he said. I ve been going to hockey games since the 1970s. [The Falcons provide] live hockey, professional hockey and affordable hockey [for all] as opposed to the [expense of the] NHL.

Falcons fan Pamela Gates of West Springfield explained that this franchise has been so much a part of her family s life that she chose to throw her daughter Stephanie s surprise bridal shower in the Executive Perch at the March 7 game.

During the first period, Stephanie divided her attention between the hockey game and unwrapping the final shower gifts, Gates wrote in a testimonial to the Falcons. She would stop unwrapping in order to dance, yell, cheer and/or ring the cow bell. Many thought that watching Stephanie enjoy the Falcons experience was the best entertainment.

Landon noted that the Oilers have committed to honor the third and final year of their contract affiliation with the Falcons for the 2009-2010 season. He explained that he will be working closely with Oilers personnel over the coming months to address his concerns about the team s performance.

I ve been vocal about what their product here has done to my bottom line, Landon said, adding that the franchise is still losing money. I can t live in the past. If we re in the past we can t move forward. I can t worry what happened this year. I m not a person to bury my head in the sand. All we can do is address the problems with Edmonton and see if we can get better.

He said the organization is committed to finishing this season strong and bringing affordable, family-friendly entertainment to the MassMutual Center.

Landon added that his staff will focus on boosting sponsorships, ticket sales and additional revenue streams in order to ensure the long-term viability of the franchise.

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