Griffins score TV deal
The Grand Rapids Griffins are coming to TVs across three Midwest states.
The minor league hockey franchise said yesterday that it has signed a three-year agreement with Wixom-based Michigan Entertainment Sports to televise a minimum of 40 games a season, over the next three seasons.
“Our team certainly saw a renewed interest, not only localized, but across the state,” said Tim Gortsema, vice president of business operations, Grand Rapids Griffins. “That interest has increased in large part because of the call ups and the role our guys have played with the Red Wings. That’s really developed our brand.”
The network is dedicated to the coverage of minor league, college and high school sports in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
No other American Hockey League team — except the Chicago Wolves — has a deal of this magnitude in place.
The broadcast schedule will be released following the release of the AHL schedule in August.
While a minimum of 10 home games will be broadcast each season, the majority of the games aired will be played away from Van Andel Arena.
“You don’t want to give people the convenience of staying at home,” Gortsema said. “We feel the product is compelling enough to be here in person, but, by the same token, we want to afford the fans the opportunity to keep up with the team on the road.”
In the booth
The broadcasts will be simulcast on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM and 1300 AM, with Bob Kaser as the play-by-play guy in his 15th season with the Griffins. Color analysts have yet to be announced.
“We are thrilled to return Griffins hockey to television, especially given the tremendous success of the organization both on and off the ice these last two seasons,” Kaser said. “Grand Rapids and the Griffins received a great deal of recognition throughout North America this season for developing so many Red Wings prospects who helped Detroit extend its remarkable Stanley Cup playoff streak.”
Michigan Entertainment Sports selected the Griffins as its first major sports partner, but more are to come in the near future, according to network President Peter Schinkai.
He also said the network is not ready to announce distribution yet, as negotiations are ongoing. There are hopes to have the network in the homes of major cable subscribers in the region in the next three years.
“The Grand Rapids Griffins are one of the premier teams in the AHL,” Schinkai said. “The defending Calder Cup champions have a storied history, a passionate fan base and a strong history working with the Detroit Red Wings as their top affiliate. MES strives to showcase the best sports in the Midwest, and nothing says high-quality hockey like the Grand Rapids Griffins.”