When the Worcester Railers first announced they were coming to the city, the Worcester Bravehearts were not sure how the team’s arrival would impact them. Although the teams play in two separate seasons, there were still questions as to whether or not one would lose fans to the other.
The result so far has been anything but that.
The partnership between the two teams started in 2016. At first an exchange of season tickets and stadium signage, the partnership quickly turned much more community-focused when the front offices of both teams shared a similar focus of engagement within the City of Worcester. This is when the teams partnered together to release their premier program, Ticket-to-Read.
Ticket-to-Read encourages students within the Central Massachusetts community to read books in exchange for free tickets. Since the birth of the partnership, 1,600 students have been enrolled in the program, totaling over 18,000 total books read. The Bravehearts and Railers have continued to put an even stronger focus on educational events in the city of Worcester, hosting annual field trip days for the Worcester Public Schools every season.
While the community has been the primary focus of the two organizations, the partnership has evolved into a staff pipeline. Along with fans, the Bravehearts and Railers have also shared game-day staff, front office members, and even broadcasters.
When going to a game, or even watching a broadcast, fans might see and hear familiar faces at both venues. Bravehearts On-Field host Brodie Gilow doubles as the Railers In-Arena host, while Railers Manager of Communications and Broadcasting Cam McGuire doubles as one half of the Bravehearts broadcast booth.
“Both the Railers and Bravehearts have exemplified what it means to give back to their community,” said McGuire. “Being associated with both organizations I have been able to see the behind the scenes work that goes on to make sure that both organizations are driven members in the Greater-Worcester community. It’s truly an honor to be a part of both these teams.”
The broadcast booth and in-arena host position are the most noticeable to fans, but the entertainment partnership goes far beyond that. The Bravehearts and Railers also share an in-stadium DJ, mascot performer and fan engagement interns.
“It definitely has a family vibe between the two teams,” said Bravehearts and Railers Team DJ Ryan McConville.
In total, fourteen staffers have worked for both the Bravehearts and Railers in departments featuring ticket sales, community relations, in-game entertainment and athletic training. With the Bravehearts beginning to hire staff for the 2022 season, there is a good chance that number will continue to rise.
“I find that employees who have worked for both the Bravehearts and Railers tend to excel at customer service and hospitality” said Bravehearts General Manager Dave Peterson. “ The Railers and Bravehearts hold similar values and we both truly care about taking care of our fans.”
This family-friendly entertainment was most recently highlighted at the Bravehearts fifth annual Hockey Night on July 30th, which was sponsored by the Worcester Railers and Bay State Savings Bank. The game featured a Bravehearts t-shirt giveaway that was modeled after a Railers Hockey Jersey, members of the Railers throwing out the first pitch, and player participation in promotions such as the Table-Talk Pie-eating contest. The Bravehearts also welcomed the Worcester Railers Booster Club to the ballpark. This promotion has roots all the way back to 2016, where the Railers debuted their team mascot Trax to a sold-out crowd at the Bravehearts first ever Hockey Night.
“I believe the Bravehearts and Railers work so well together because we value many of the same pillars,” said Bravehearts Director of Fan Experience Donny Porcaro. “Community, family-fun and affordability are what we focus on. When I attend our games and events, I also see so many others wearing Railers gear. That is what we strive for in our partnership.”
The Bravehearts and Railers will kick-off their 2022 Ticket-to-Read campaign presented by Cornerstone Bank, UMass Memorial Health, Avatar Computing and DCU this month. The teams will travel to schools across the Central Mass community in the coming months promoting this partnership and giving students a chance to receive free tickets.
Visit tickettoread.net (built by Avatar Computing) if you are an educator interested in participating in the Ticket-to-Read program.