As the Massachusetts Pirates get ready for their third season in the National Arena League, one of the first off season moves has been to bolster their presence in the community. Joining the Pirates staff is Jesse Heninger, who will be the team’s Director of Marketing and Assistant Director of Corporate Sponsorship.
Heninger worked the last three seasons as the Director of Operations, Marketing and Sales for the Richmond Roughriders of the Arena Pro Football League, had oversight of the team joining the American Arena League and then helped the franchise move to Wheeling, West Virginia last season. Now he can’t wait to join one of the top tier teams in the National Arena League.
“I’m looking forward to supporting such a class-act organization. With accomplished strategies and marketing already in place, my goal will be to become a complementary addition to an already excellent team and continue to positively propel the brand into the future,” Heninger said.
A University of Florida graduate, Heninger will soon be relocating to Worcester and he’s looking to be a part of the community.
“When Jawad (Pirates Founder and Owner Jawad Yatim) and the Massachusetts Pirates reached out to me it quickly became my main priority to close the deal. The opportunity to captain a brand such as the Pirates allows me to continue to make a difference in local communities while at the same time furthering my career in a sport I have learned to call my own,” Heninger added.
The core of the Massachusetts operations staff is returning for 2020. Pirates’ Associate Director of Marketing Mike Okayka, says that this season there will be more engagement with the fans through social media while teaching them about the organization at the same time. Fans will notice more contests and give-a-ways.
“In year three we are working on the “brand” and trying to get personal with the fans,” Okayka said. “We want to improve across the board. We are making our visuals and graphics better. We have worked with a lot of people and now we have picked the best talent from that group and added some new people to our team. It’s working much better now. We feel like we are ahead of the game at this point,” he added.
Okayka also said the team is looking to partner with as many organizations as possible.
"There are great marketing and sponsorship opportunities with the Pirates. We are open to suggestions as we would like to work with everyone locally,” he said.
Andrew Haskell, Director of Ticket Sales for the Pirates, has already seen the interest level of the team on the rise compared to last season.
“We are super excited about how this off-season has been going. One of the things that I wanted to do coming in here was to add a process to all of it. We recently wrapped up our deposit campaign which allowed season ticket holders from last year to renew their seats and it allowed new season ticket holders to get their price in line; that was a great success for us. For the past month or so, we’ve been on sale with our season tickets and it’s been nothing but growth, which is exciting. We are expecting to match our season tickets from last year within the next month. In terms of specific seating, our wall seats; (front row right on the action) those season tickets have actually doubled from last year so, it’s pretty exciting. “We are at an 80 percent renewal rate which is very good in any industry. We had talks with our season ticket holders and learned about how their experiences were and the people who were on board were excited to talk with us. Luckily we were also able to talk to some season ticket holders who had some concerns. It kind of put their mind at ease and we were able to renew a lot of those accounts too,” he added.
Haskell added that fans will have more opportunity to interact with the Pirates in a variety of ways.
“First and foremost I found out today that we will have some additional premium seating this season so that’s pretty cool. On top of that we will be adding some really cool game features this year, including being able to call the first play of the game with the coach and being an honorary captain. We are always looking to make the game itself from our standpoint more exciting including more features on the concourse, more entertainment during the game and just making things more interactive for the fans,” Haskell said.
Other opportunities for fans to become involved with the Pirates, is through a group experience. Liam Christian, the Pirates Director of Group Sales, says there will be many things that will appeal with a multitude of fans in 2020.
"In general, the opportunities for groups will be bigger this year, especially for the youth which is a big part of our demographic. Some examples are the “High Five Tunnel,” and our “Open Seas” program that will allow teams to use the field depending upon a specific number of tickets that they need to sell. We also have options for band performances, halftime performances and anthem buddies,” Christian said.
Partnerships can be the life-blood of any professional sports franchise. Brian Andrukonis, the Pirates Director of Operations, tackles many tasks that look after the well being of those who take the field.
“The biggest thing that I’ve been working on right now is player housing,” he said. I’ve been looking for accommodations for about 30 people. We’ve also been working on sponsorship. We’ve been introducing ourselves to area business and setting up meetings. We’ve definitely received good feedback,” Andrukonis said.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Forster St. Worcester, MA, 01608. Pirates season tickets for the 2020 season are now available starting at $99.00. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Follow the Pirates on Facebook, at Facebook.com/MAPirates, on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as on Twitter @mass_pirates.