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Posted on June 5, 2016 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

SPRINGFIELD — Investors backing the latest Springfield entry into the American Hockey League come from industries as diverse as hotels, real estate development, construction, doughnuts and the law.

 

But whatever business they do, they do it in Springfield, key members of the ownership group said Friday while meeting with editors and reporters at The Republican and MassLive.

 

And the new investors plan on drawing on that diversity of local business contacts, as well as what they see as a rebounding downtown Springfield and a sense that patrons are looking for entertainment – like music and contests – in addition to hockey as they fill seats in what has too often been a sparsely filled MassMutual Center.

 

"What is going to be fun is the first night we fill that house with 6,500 people for the first time and they are all enjoying it, feeling secure and having a good time," said Springfield Hockey LLC part-owner Fran Cataldo of C&W Real Estate.

 

The ownership group is still recruiting new investors, but it was able to reveal many of its members at the meeting: Paul Picknelly, president of Monarch Enterprises and the Springfield Sheraton; Cataldo and his business partner at C&W, Mike Wallace; Frank Colaccino of Colvest, a developer of retail property; attorney Frank Fitzgerald; Derek Salema and Peter Martins, who own Dunkin' Donuts franchises in the area; David Fontaine of Fontaine Brothers Construction in Springfield; Dinesh Patel, owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel in Springfield's South End; and Vidhyadhar Mitta, owner of the Quality Inn in Chicopee.

 

Springfield investors step up to save hockey for city

Springfield investors step up to save hockey for city

The city seemed doomed to lose its team before a local group called Portland.

 

Springfield Hockey LLC purchased the Portland Pirates AHL franchise last month. The ownership group cannot disclose the purchase price.

 

Fitzgerald, Picknelly, Cataldo and Colaccino were among the new hockey owners who visited with The Republican and MassLive's Editorial Board on Friday.

 

"It's a very diverse group," Cataldo said. "We all bring different skills to the table. But what we do share is a love of Springfield."

 

Also, insurance giant MassMutual Financial Group donated money to the Springfield Business Improvement District so it could buy in as nonprofit member of the ownership group, Fitzgerald said.

 

He added that the owners are still accepting new partners, including one who came forward the morning of the meeting.

 

"It's a state of flux," Fitzgerald said.

 

The same could be said of everything associated with the new hockey team, an enterprise Picknelly organized in just a few days after the Springfield Falcons left town for Arizona.

 

With training camp set to open at the end of the summer, deadlines for logos, colors, marketing plans and all the other things it takes to make a hockey team run are looming. The partners figure it's six or eight months of work stuffed into five or six weeks.

 

The one thing they know for certain: Opening night is Oct. 22.

 

The new team doesn't have a name, although a name-the-team contest on MassLive generated thousands of suggestions in 40 hours, Cataldo said. An announcement will be made in two weeks, just in time for Reebok to start making the uniforms, Picknelly said.

 

The Falcons name left with that franchise.

 

Florida Panthers top prospects and players to watch for next season

Florida Panthers top prospects and players to watch for next season

With the Portland Pirates reportedly set to relocate to Springfield for the upcoming 2016-17 AHL season, local fans will have to get used to a new crew of players taking the ice at the MassMutual Center. The Pirates — affiliates of the Florida Panthers — put together an impressive season in 2015-16, finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division with a...

 

"It can't be Falcons," Fitzgerald said. "It can be Indians. But that would be a management decision." Prior to the establishment of the Falcons in 1994, the AHL franchise in Springfield was known as the Springfield Indians.

 

Fitzgerald said the new team will play in the MassMutual Center, which is managed by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, but it hasn't signed a lease agreement yet. The group praised its early relationship with the MCCA.

 

The team will announce its day-to-day management this week.

 

Even specifics concerning the fun and diversions planned for hockey nights in Springfield will have to wait, the partners said.

 

"What is going to be fun is the first night we fill that house with 6,500 people for the first time and they are all enjoying it, feeling secure and having a good time." ~ Fran Cataldo

What they do have is an operating agreement with the Florida Panthers whereby the NHL club will send its prospects to play in Springfield.

 

"Hockey is here in Springfield," Picknelly said. "And here to stay."

 

AHL hockey – considered second-highest level in North America behind the National Hockey League – has a long history in Springfield going back to Eddie Shore, a pioneer of the game who played, coached and owned in the city. Springfield has had an AHL team since 1936, with the exception of a brief hiatus in the early 1950s. Springfield teams won Calder Cup championships in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1971, 1975, 1990 and 1991.

 

Picknelly described himself as a third-generation business owner in Springfield. His grandfather started Peter Pan Bus Lines, his father ran it and his brother runs it today.

 

Not only did he not want to see hockey go, but he feels that with $2.7 billion in ongoing public and private investment in the city, Springfield has the momentum to make the team a success.

 

"In my opinion, Springfield's time is now," he said.

 

And AHL hockey both preserves and enhances the good things going on in the city, Picknelly said. "This is high-quality entertainment at affordable rates," said Picknelly said. "This is exactly what Springfield needs."

 

Hockey nights also fill restaurants and mean millions of dollars in business downtown, Picknelly said.

 

"You can't get in Red Rose on a game night," he said of the popular South End restaurant.

 

The city just couldn't afford to lose that business, Picknelly said.

 

Picknelly said he and his partners did have to convince the Panthers and Peter Luukko, executive chairman of The Florida Panthers Hockey Club and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, that Springfield was the right place to put his minor league team and his up-and-coming hockey prospects.

 

They new hockey team owners were able to fly him in, Picknelly said, and introduce him to people and show him the city from Union Station in the North End to Union Street in the South End, including the MGM site. They talked about promotions. They talked about police presence.

 

Luukko was very impressed with the city, Picknelly said, and its ability to support professional hockey.

 

AHL approval makes Springfield hockey's 'name game' next

AHL approval makes Springfield hockey's 'name game' next

It's not known whether the team will go by "Falcons" or another name.

 

"When he was getting on the plane at Bradley, he told us we would hear the next day," Picknelly said. "We thought we'd have to wait a week for an answer."

 

He added that Luukko is a UMass graduate who is from Worcester, facts that helped Springfield's cause.

 

MGM figures heavily in the partner's plans. Picknelly said he expects the casino to comp tickets, to promote the team to hotel guests as he will at his hotel. Picknelly is a 1 percent owner in MGM Springfield.

 

Also, Cataldo and Wallace sold South End real estate to MGM for the project. C& W's office buildings at 1200 Main St. and 85-95 State St. sold for $8.4 million.

 

Hockey is both a business investment as well as a civic undertaking, all four men agreed.

 

Colaccino spoke of the frantic first few days as Picknelly called around assembling his team of investors. He asked Picknelly if he'd get this money back eventually. When Picknelly said yes, Colaccino agreed that he was in.

 

"Springfield has been very good to me," the city native and American International College graduate and trustee said. "This is a way of giving back."

 

And they all have long histories with hockey in Springfield. Fitzgerald remembers Shore turning off the lights at the Eastern States Coliseum (where the Indians played until the then-Springfield Civic Center opened) to tell schoolboy teams that practice was over and to go home.

 

He said Shore threw him out of the rink once for putting his feet up on the chair in front of his seat during an Indians game.

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Posted on May 16, 2016 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

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Tree takes down utility lines in Springfield

Posted: May 16, 2016 5:29 AM EST

Updated: May 16, 2016 8:45 AM EST

By Hugh Zeitlin

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

 

A large tree branch has come down across a portion of Dorset Street.

 

The Springfield Police Department told Western Mass News that the tree has taken down Verizon lines, however, residents still have power.

 

One police unit has been on the scene since about 5:15 a.m.

 

Our Western Mass News crew on the scene reports that a tree removal crew has arrived on scene to clear the area.

 

Police said that Dorset Street is open to drivers.

 

The only road that is currently impacted by the large branch is Granby Street, but that should be cleared shortly.

 

Copyright 2016 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

Read more: http://www.westernmassnews.com/story/31979899/tree-takes-down-power-lines-in-springfield#ixzz48p78On3v

 

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Posted on May 10, 2016 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

 

It's a program aimed at learning more about the various tick species in our area and how we can better protect ourselves from tick borne illnesses.

 

The microbiology lab at UMass Amherst has been testing ticks since 2006 and today, we went to campus to see the latest findings within their research.

 

Lyme disease is commonly the illness associated with tick bites, but microbiology professor Dr. Stephen Rich told us that over the years, their research has driven them to find more answers - thanks to community members like you sending them in the ticks you find in your backyard.

 

"The beauty of this is it's beneficial to individuals, so someone gets bit by a tick, they send to us, they get info about what they may have been exposed to," Rich explained.

 

That data can then warn you of the possible risks you face if you were bitten.

 

"One of the things we are doing is testing for more things in the ticks, so people should know it's no longer just Lyme disease," Rich added.

 

Everytime you send a tick to their lab, they are tested for five different pathogens. One of those is new to their standard testing procedures and found to be prominent in Massachusetts.

 

"The population benefits because we have this from thousands of people, and even those who don't test for it, people have to ability to find this research information we make available, so you know when to test your tick, or you can go on and see what other people may have sent in and see what the risks may be for you," Rich said.

 

With each tick tested comes more answers to fight tick-borne illnesses and understanding as to which ticks pose the highest threats.

 

"We think that where we are helping in the chronic Lyme disease is out in front, by preventing people from getting sick in the first place," Rich added.

 

However, money - of course - is always the extra challenging factor.

 

"Six towns in Franklin County...the towns have actually subsidized part of the tick test, so by getting more ticks, we can reduce the overall cost and then the town picks up half the cost. So in those towns, instead of $50, in those towns its $15, so we can keep our heads above water, pay our staff, and keep the testing going," Rich noted.

 

Rich currently works with 23 different western towns and hopes to eventually reach the entire state.

 

"We did 160 ticks the first year and over 6,000 last year and hoping to do 7,000 this year," Rich explained.

 

The process to send in a tick is pretty simple. Remove it as soon as possible, of course, then secure it in a plastic baggy to send to the lab.

 

You then can just visit tickreport.com to fill out a small form.

 

Copyright 2016 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

Read more: http://www.westernmassnews.com/story/31940575/umass-researchers-want-to-test-your-ticks#ixzz48IvLuCgt

 

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Posted on August 16, 2015 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian airliner carrying 54 people was missing Sunday after losing contact with ground control during a short flight in bad weather in the country’s mountainous easternmost province of Papua, officials said. A search for the plane was suspended and will resume Monday morning.

 

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil’s airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata. There was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call, he said.

 

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on the scheduled 42-minute journey, he said. Five children, including three infants, were among the passengers.

 

The weather was poor near Oksibil, with heavy rain, strong winds and fog, when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

 

A plane was sent to look for the missing airliner, but the search was later suspended due to darkness and bad weather, said Susanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. The search operation will continue Monday morning, he said.

 

Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found.

 

Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

 

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it ran into stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

 

That disaster was one of five suffered by Asian carriers in a 12-month span, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

——

Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.

 

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Posted on August 16, 2015 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

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