SBD/Issue 177/Franchises

Blackhawks Emerging As Model Franchise, Both On- And Off-Ice

Blackhawks' Business And On-Ice
Success Making Them A Model Franchise

The Blackhawks, who advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals Sunday after sweeping the Sharks, have "combined several elements -- both on the business side and on the ice -- to build a model franchise for today's NHL game," according to Darren Eliot of Perhaps it was the "classic case of a perfect storm -- a young, upcoming marketable team with a change in management personnel and philosophy -- but the Blackhawks' regime acted swiftly." The franchise "did more, rather than less, increasing television and ancillary programming, improving community visibility and interaction and upping the output and focus from an-in-house public relations standpoint." The Blackhawks "didn't wait to let the team sell itself all by itself." From "top-to-bottom, the Blackhawks set best-in-class practices in motion, matching the development of a quickly improving team." Eliot: "Aggressively getting out in front of their product with a sense of purpose has made all the difference and it will reap benefits for years to come" (, 5/24). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "What has happened in Chicago makes clear that Chicago has always been a hockey town. When a franchise goes through a tough period, it can tax the relationship a franchise has with its fans, but it can come back and come back in a big way. ... Look at how quickly it came back" (, 5/25). Bettman, when asked if the Blackhawks' success helps the league, said, "I think it is great the Blackhawks have thrived and rejuvenated. I'm thrilled for the fans. I'm thrilled for Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough, but you can't use that to overgeneralize one way or another on the basis of the whole league." Bettman said Wirtz and McDonough have "reconnected this great Original 6 franchise with the fan base." Bettman: "Not only did they reconnect, we're seeing the next generation of young fans connecting with the team as well. You're seeing it here in a building of 22,000 people, predominantly people wearing jerseys. There are a tremendous number of young people here becoming the culture of our game, and the Blackhawks culture" (, 5/25).

GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT: In Chicago, Jennifer Delgado reported Blackhawks fans "spilled into sports stores" after Sunday's win. Chicago Sports & Novelty Manager Myra Cisneros: "We always carry a bit of merchandise, but this time, we can't seem to keep it in stock." Clark Street Sports co-Owner Arthur De Leon: "We've had numerous people that have said they've never watched hockey before and now they're looking for a shirt. We've had a lot of new customers." Blackhawks Senior Dir of Market Development & Community Affairs Peter Hassen said that "more than $50,000 worth of playoff merchandise has been sold at the Blackhawks' kiosk in Woodfield mall, Michigan Avenue store and United Center outlets" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/25). Meanwhile, sales of Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals tickets on StubHub "have more than tripled since last week," and the average price has climbed to $710. StubHub Corporate Communications Manager Joellen Ferrer said that Stanley Cup Finals ticket sales are "outpacing NBA Finals sales" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 5/25).

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