SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Today, the Springfield Thunderbirds announced that they are one of three AHL franchises that have elected to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. The decision, made in conjunction with their NHL Affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, was based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus towards the 2021-22 season. The Thunderbirds will maintain their status as active members of the AHL and return to play next season.
Message from Thunderbirds President, Nate Costa:
Today, the Springfield Thunderbirds in conjunction with our NHL Affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, made the difficult decision to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly with the Blues to explore every possible avenue for returning to play this season. Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, travel logistics, new player supply rules, and other considerations we collectively determined that it was in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season.
Given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, it has also become clear that we will be unable to host fans, the lifeblood of our organization, at our games in the foreseeable future. As an independently-owned franchise, our foremost obligation is to ensure that our team is financially viable for the long term, something that is not possible without gameday revenue. We have always had a long-term vision to bring T-Birds hockey to our entire community and we feel that this decision, although painful right now, puts us in the best position to do so for many years to come.
Our organization has built one of the most exciting stories in all of professional hockey during the first four years as a franchise. We remain as committed as ever to building upon that success in Springfield, and we look forward to kicking off our long-term relationship with the St. Louis Blues next season. We know that this is not possible without all of you.
We want to thank our fans and community partners, the St. Louis Blues, the City of Springfield, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and all those who have both been helpful and supportive during this unprecedented time. We have already turned our attention to next season and are actively working with the Blues, our season ticket holders, and corporate partners to ensure that 2021-2022 is our strongest season yet.
We know this isn’t easy, and our entire front office misses seeing all of you at the arena more than you know. We really can’t wait to welcome you back next season to pack the Thunderdome once again.
President, Springfield Thunderbirds