The Florida Panthers say “¡Si!” to Hispanics by planning to broadcast three games in Spanish.
The team partnered with 1210 AM ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes 760 AM, the Spanish-language versions of the American sports radio stations in Miami and West Palm Beach, in an effort to grow its Hispanic fan base, according to the team’s CEO and president Rory A. Babich in a news release.
The first game to be called in Spanish will be against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 30 for Hispanic Heritage Night.
It’s only a short-term deal, which the Panthers have dabbled in before. They had Arley Londono as their Spanish-language broadcaster from 1993 to 1996. Londono will reprise his role, along with Octavio Sequera.
It’s a timely partnership for the Panthers since Hispanics are a majority in Miami-Dade County, according to the U.S. Census. However, ice hockey isn’t a popular sport among U.S. Hispanics, who are more likely to turn to soccer, baseball and basketball. Adding to that, the number of current NHL players of Hispanic heritage can be counted on one hand: Panthers goalie Al Montoya and forward Scott Gomez, Kings defenseman Alec Martinez and Sharks winger Raffi Torres.
Other major league sport teams have Hispanic-themed nights or Spanish news coverage, but Florida is among the first NHL teams to take the game to Latinos (the ugly sombrero jerseys worn by the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in 2012-13 don’t count).
The other two games that will broadcast in Spanish are against the Colorado Avalanche (Jan. 15) and the Boston Bruins (March 21). The team has not announced if Andres Cantor-inspired goal shouts will be included.
(h/t to Litter Box Cats)
-- Anna Celia Gallegos