Bhq4kX1IAAAtI-_BOSTON — Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry praised the fans on Saturday at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

Henry sat on the final panel of the conference, “Ownership Perspective: Managing Transitions”, with Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, NBA senior vice president Amy Brooks and Miami Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel. The panel discussed analytics, handling the media and the difficulties of running a franchise.

Henry said that he bought the Red Sox because “in your life, you want to do things that matter. We knew that running the Red Sox would matter to a lot of people.”

“It’s the fan base that’s created the mystique of Fenway and the mystique of the Red Sox,” Henry said. “It’s because of them that we sold so many tickets.”

Henry said he was confident when he purchased the Red Sox in 2002 because “Boston fans would appreciate the degree of which we were baseball fans.”

“This region has four great franchises and the one thing we all have in common is this great fan base,” Henry said.

It took just two seasons for the Red Sox to win a World Series for the first time in 86 years after the new ownership group took over. One of the challenges was to spend enough to outplay the New York Yankees.

“We didn’t have the luxury of a salary cap,” Henry said. “When we came in, the Yankees were spending extraordinary sums of money. What we determined we had to do in order to be competitive in Major League Baseball and within our division is we had to be extremely aggressive about revenues. Everything we did, whether it was in regard to the park, NESN, sponsorships — we were determined to leave no stone unturned to increase our revenue so we could go toe to toe with the Yankees.”

The Red Sox have done just that. Since Henry bought the Red Sox, Boston has three World Series titles to the Yankees’ one.

Photo via Twitter/@Linda_Pizzuti