OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — This past season was a difficult one on the court for the Wisconsin Herd, but off it, the franchise proved to be the class of the NBA G-League.
Team President Steve Brandes explained that the Herd won the G-League's Franchise of the Year award Thursday, and said he was "extremely honored" to receive it.
"It’s the equivalent of winning an NBA championship, to put it in perspective, but for the business side," he said.
Herd officials said the team ranked second in the league in season ticket sales, second in group sales, and third in total gate receipts. The team also sold out 11 games, more than double their total from last year.
Brandes credits that success to the team's strong ties to the community.
“We have a tremendous group of corporate supporters and sponsors," he said. "Without them, we wouldn’t have the foundation to build what we need to build.”
Just up the street from Oshkosh Arena—where the Herd play their home games—Zach Clark owns Fifth Ward Brewing and said the Herd's success provides a big boost to businesses across town as well.
“A lot of these restaurants that were close [to the arena] would just get jam-packed from the Herd..." Clark said, "...[I]t was nice hearing from a lot of restaurant owners that restaurants were getting almost completely packed before the games.”
Anna Murphy-Pociask works at Oshkosh's tourism bureau Discover Oshkosh, and says the Herd help make Oshkosh a destination for visitors from all over the region.
“I think having an NBA G-League team, here located in Oshkosh brings in so much local business, so much traffic just from within the Fox Cities all the way from Michigan," she said.
"People come from all over to these games.”
For Herd Communications Coordinator Jamie Winsted, the city helps the team, just as much as the team helps the city.
“It means everything to us to be here in Oshkosh and have that support," she said. "We really have one of the best fan bases in the NBA G-League.”