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Published: Wednesday, 4/10/2013

MUD HENS 2013 SEASON PREVIEW

Hens, Walleye seasons overlap

Playoff hockey skates on as baseball begins

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
The Walleye celebrate a goal by Randy Rowe in a game at the Huntington Center. Toledo reached the ECHL playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Walleye celebrate a goal by Randy Rowe in a game at the Huntington Center. Toledo reached the ECHL playoffs for the first time since 2010.
BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge

The start of the Mud Hens season will overlap with the Walleye's season this spring which could make for some bustling sports nights downtown.

The Walleye qualified for the ECHL playoffs for the first time since 2010, extending their season. Their first playoff game against Cincinnati was Friday.

The Mud Hens' season opener was on the road last Thursday and the home opener is Thursday.

Toledo's professional baseball and hockey teams could potentially play on the same night. The teams' downtown venues at Fifth Third Field and the Huntington Center could both be packed on April 16.

“It's a little busy, but it's a lot of fun,” said Kim McBroom, who is the chief marketing officer for both teams. “What a great thing. Everyone here is really excited about it.”

MUD HENS 2013 SEASON PREVIEW

Both organizations are run by the same organization, meaning the teams share many of the same employees, including front office staff, marketing and communications, ticket sales, and game-day operations personnel.

“It is a shared operation,” McBroom said. “For us there is no off season. We're used to a pace like this year round. The adrenaline kicks in.”

She said preparations are being made for the Mud Hens season during the Walleye season and vice versa. Discussions about a possible overlap between the seasons began in January, she said.

“That is a fun thing,” McBroom said. “It's a lot of work. But we have a high-energy team. They are up for it. We're excited. This is another chance for us to be creative.”

Mud Hens pitcher Jose Alvarez throws during practice at Fifth Third Field. Toledo opened the season on the road and plays at home Thursday. Mud Hens pitcher Jose Alvarez throws during practice at Fifth Third Field. Toledo opened the season on the road and plays at home Thursday.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

There was a similar, albeit brief, overlap in 2010 when the Walleye qualified for the playoffs at the end of their first season. But the teams never played at home on the same night. The Walleye had home playoff games against the Charlotte Checkers on April 6 and 7. But the Mud Hens season started on April 8. The Walleye were eliminated on the road and played just four playoff games.

Erik Ibsen, who is the assistant general manager/ticket sales and operations manager for both organizations, held the same positions in 2010.

“Looking back it was a fun experience,” Ibsen said. “It was the first time we went through it. Unfortunately the Walleye could not extend their season and bring it back home.”

Planning for a potential Walleye playoff series began in January when ticket info was mailed out to season ticket holders.

The ticket sales department is offering a combination package to attend both a potential Walleye game and the Mud Hens game on Tuesday. Those tickets are $22.

The Walleye’s best-of-seven series would have to be extended to a sixth game on Tuesday. 

The Mud Hens game begins at 6:30 at Fifth Third Field and the Walleye game would start at 7:30 at the Huntington Center.

“Game 6 wasn't guaranteed,” Ibsen said. “But we wanted to have it as an option for people to go back and forth to the games. I think a bunch of people would have interest in bouncing back and forth, to be part of something for the first time. It would be brand new and unique.”

The Walleye would have to win their first-round playoff series to set up another night of hockey and baseball in Toledo.

McBroom said the possibility same-night games has led to “creative scheduling.”

She said many of the same personnel do in-game promotions on the ice and on the baseball diamond. 

 Marketing, communication, and broadcasting personnel also handle similar duties for both teams.

“From that perspective, you have to do a lot of planning and scheduling,” McBroom said.



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