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Boston sports executives talk competition and collaboration at Globe Summit

The Bruins and Celtics share TD Garden, but they don't feel as though they are in competition with each other.Adam Glanzman

Boston’s five biggest professional sports teams may have more in common than meets the eye.

While they are competing for air time and fans’ attention, the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox, and Revolution frequently collaborate and often take inspiration from each other.

In a Tuesday panel at the Globe Summit titled “Building Title Town: Boston Sports Leaders on Strategies for Success,” executives of the teams joined Globe reporter Michael Silverman for a wide-ranging discussion of the advantages — and sometimes challenges — of sharing space in Boston’s saturated sports market.

“We learn a lot from each other by just communicating with one another,” said Jennifer Ferron, chief marketing officer of Kraft Sports and Entertainment.


Of the five teams represented, the Revolution are by far the youngest franchise, founded in 1995 (the Patriots, who first played in 1960, are the runners-up).

With other teams already thriving in Boston, the Revolution faced steep odds to build a fan base. But according to Revolution president Brian Bilello, the biggest competition wasn’t — and still isn’t — the other teams but other pastimes entirely.

“We compete more with staying at home, going out to dinner, or watching a movie than we do with each other,” Bilello said. “So from that perspective, making professional sports something that you want to go see … that’s our biggest thing together that we’ve done a great job of in this city.”

What gets fans out of their houses to attend a professional sporting event often isn’t the sport itself, but the fan experience.

TD Garden underwent a $100 million renovation starting in 2014, and Gillette Stadium received a $225 million facelift prior to this season. In July, Boston officials approved initial plans for a $1.6 billion project to develop the area surrounding Fenway Park into a new residential and commercial hub.


“What people want as a night out and an entertainment option has absolutely changed, particularly post-COVID,” said Red Sox chief marketing officer Adam Grossman. “People want to come for entertainment, and sports may be a background to that.

“To just be around this vitality that the sports teams create is something that we’re looking forward to cultivating, and it’s just another piece of what has become an iconic part of Boston.”

Bilello noted that the Revolution have been striving for a soccer-specific stadium in Boston for more than a decade to enhance the experience for soccer fans, but he declined to say whether there had been any progress.

Bruins president Cam Neely, who played for the team from 1986-96, said as much as he values the improved fan experience that came with the Hub on Causeway, the most important product will always be what happens inside the venue.

“What happens on the ice really drives the bus,” Neely said. “When you have as many games as the Celts and Bruins do, plus all the concerts, it’s ‘OK, people are coming here. What else can we offer them?’ ”

Though the Celtics and Bruins share TD Garden, Celtics president Rich Gotham said he has never felt as though he had to compete with Neely’s organization.

“We’re trying to build and grow basketball fans, not take hockey fans and convert them into basketball fans,” Gotham said. “If we do our job well, and we put a good product on the floor, I think there’s enough there for all the teams and all the organizations.”


Third Annual Globe Summit
WATCH: Boston Globe Media CEO Linda Henry previews the third annual Globe Summit: Today’s Innovators. Tomorrow’s Leaders running September 19-21.

Emma can be reached at emma.healy@globe.com or on X @_EmmaHealy_.