Maine Hockey Journal

Crusher is coming to stake a claim in Portland

Salty Pete and Crackers should be on the lookout because Crusher has been let loose in Portland.

Huh, you ask?

Well, I was on my daily trek across the Fore River Parkway today and was caught rather surprised by what was draped across the new Mercy Hospital.

Photo by Chris Roy

Photo by Chris Roy

Spanning across the side of hospital was a Red Claws banner, which can be seen from I-295 and other strategic parts of Portland. Just as a refresher, the Maine Red Claws are the newest sports property in Portland, playing in the NBA D-League. Since it’s been announced they were awarded a franchise, the ownership group, led by Bill Ryan Jr. and Jon Jennings have been on a promoting spree across Southern Maine and it’s paying off…. BIG TIME.

Before tip-off of the franchise’s first game, they already lead the D-League in tickets sold and continue to build relationships with the business community, potential fans. If you been in Portland, you’ve probably seen the green van, nicknamed Claw Force One, and if you were at Hadlock Field on Sunday, you saw the unveiling of their new mascot “Crusher”.

Now this isn’t to bash the Pirates or its ownership group. It’s a mere warning to them that they should be proactive within the community because the Red Claws are coming, and plan on staying for a long time.

I’ve seen the Pirates do very little this summer, and if it wasn’t for this website – yes, that’s a selfless plug—they wouldn’t have been heard unless you looked in the part of the newspaper that lines birdcages.

The Red Claws on the other hand have been very involved within the community and visible.

Bill Ryan Jr. knows how to promote an event within the community. He’s done it for over a decade now as the owner of Oxford Plains Speedway. He basically took a race track and brought it back to life instead of becoming a parking lot. I consider him a friend, and while I disagree with some of his practices, I respect him a great deal for his commitment to the Oxford Hills region.

That something that can’t be measured, but it can be heard with the sound of cash register.

The City of Portland is plenty big for three sports franchises. Hockey fans will be hockey fans and basketball fans will be basketball fans. It’s the middle of the ground fan, which the Pirates need to attract and that might be difficult, but only time will tell. Seeing the Red Claws in the community, I tend to believe they might get the leg up in that category.

That leads to the corporate sponsors. If they can get a better bang for the buck with the Red Claws and they need to choose between which properties they support. It’s easier to see where they will stick their dollars.

The Red Claws have made their intentions rather clear where they stand…. How long before the Pirates take notice?

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