Springfield Thunderbirds, MassMutual Center extend agreement to keep AHL team in city for at least four more years

The Springfield Thunderbirds are staying at the MassMutual Center for at least the next four years.

The AHL franchise and the downtown arena announced an extension of their agreement that began in 2016. The two parties had been working without a finalized agreement for the 2021-22 season which begins Oct. 16 at home against Hartford.

The agreement runs through the 2024-25 season and includes a mutual option for 2025-26.

“We are proud and excited to keep the MassMutual Center, AKA “the Thunderdome,” as our home for the foreseeable future,” Thunderbirds Managing Partner Paul Picknelly said in a release issued by the team. “The past four seasons have seen the building host some of the greatest nights in Springfield hockey history, and we could not be more excited to create even more memories for our community in the years to come.”

In the same release David Gibbons, the executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority shared Picknelly’s excitement.

”We are proud and excited to continue our partnership with the Springfield Thunderbirds in the years ahead,” Gibbons said. “For decades, the MassMutual Center has been hockey’s home in Springfield and our partnership with the Thunderbirds continues a tradition of winning on the ice and in the community.”

For COVID-19 reasons, the Thunderbirds opted out of the 2020-21 season. This will be the club’s first year as the top affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. The Thunderbirds came to Springfield from Portland, Maine after the Falcons departed.

According to the team, attendance has risen by over 2,000 fans per game since 2016.