Filling the void was Springfield, which was just ending a four-year affiliation with the Florida Panthers and jumped on the chance to hook up with the Blues.
“We thought it was a prudent decision for us to partner with an organization that has the rich history that the Blues do, and obviously coming off a Cup win,” Costa said. “A lot of their guys have been developed in our league, and I think both of our mindsets really meshed well in terms of trying to develop players in a winning environment. And that’s what we’re about.”
Costa previously had worked for the Rampage, and reached out to contacts in San Antonio for a scouting report on the Blues.
“Touched base with them on what type of people and business the Blues had run, and they had nothing but great things to say,” Costa said. “We met with (the Blues) and things worked out really well.”
The Thunderbirds are entering their fifth season under their current ownership group, which has gradually built up the fan base in Springfield.
“We took over a franchise that was last in the league in attendance and have really grown quite a bit in the last four years,” Costa said. “We had nine sellouts last year, averaged over 5,000 in the building.
“Our fans were really enthusiastic about (the Blues’ affiliation) because I think they see the pedigree — the things that the Blues have done at their level. I think it’s an exciting thing to be a part of here.”