SBD/Issue 34/Franchises

Thrashers Promoting Black Players In Local Marketing Efforts

Evander Kane (l), Anthony Stewart (r) Part
Of Effort To Promote Thrashers In Atlanta

The Thrashers' five black players are tied for the most ever on one NHL roster, and the team is "promoting that distinction" in ads in the Atlanta area, according to Jeff Klein of the N.Y. TIMES. The Thrashers’ roster makeup at the start of the season "led to speculation in the blogosphere that the team was deliberately acquiring black players in an effort to broaden its appeal in greater Atlanta, an area long known for the size, prominence and wealth of its African-American population." But Thrashers President Don Waddell said, "It all just kind of happened. It wasn’t like we went out and tried to pick up black players." Klein reports despite the "incidental nature of the acquisitions, the Thrashers are taking advantage of their windfall of black players." The team "has started to advertise in print media and radio stations to black audiences." Waddell: "We’re not trying to exploit our players. But we have an opportunity now to reach a different community, so we’re doing a lot more advertising on urban radio stations, some magazines." Klein notes the Thrashers' attendance last season ranked 28th in the 30-team NHL, and this season it is "down even more after three home dates." Whether the marketing push "will bear fruit is still unclear, but the demographic evidence is certainly compelling for a team desperate to find new fans." Atlanta has the "highest proportion of middle-income African-Americans of any major metropolitan region" in the U.S. (N.Y. TIMES, 10/28).

PLAYERS BEHIND MARKETING PUSH: Thrashers RW Anthony Stewart said, "It's great for people who may not be traditional hockey fans to have something to identify with. It's not necessarily a big market yet, but it could help the casual fan just to come out and catch a game or two. ... Just the casual fan sparking an interest that can lead to a lot more fans coming on a night-to-night basis." Thrashers LW Evander Kane: "It would be silly not to try to promote it and market it. The Thrashers are probably going to try to do that and I'm more than willing to be a part of that and be one of the focal points of that campaign" (NHL.com, 10/27).

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