SBD/October 1, 2012/Franchises

New Blues Ownership Restructures Business Operations

Stillman views the Blues as a small- to medium-sized, "very local" company
The departure of Blues President John Davidson “is the biggest headline in an offseason of change at Scottrade Center, but it's not the only remodeling that involves both personnel and a new business blueprint,” according to Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. New Blues Owner Tom Stillman said the franchise "lost $20 million in 2011-12 despite a 109-point regular season that produced a healthy number of sellouts." He added that the team “was in need of cost-cutting measures and a narrowed focus." Stillman: “I'd say that we've largely restructured the business side of the operation. That starts from the foundation.” He added, “We see that we're not some large glitzy national or worldwide business. We see the Blues as a small- to medium-size very local company. So we need to operate on that scale." Stillman, noting the promotion of Bruce Affleck to COO in June, said, “We had to make the organization flatter, less hierarchical. ... It was a pretty bloated organization." New ownership estimates that the Blues “had been spending 50 percent more than the NHL average on non-player expenses.” Prior to the Sept. 15 lockout, the team “addressed the issue with approximately 20 layoffs.” Rutherford wrote the challenge is “increasing the Blues’ revenue base through ticket, suite and sponsorship sales.” The season-ticket renewal rate is 88%, "up from 75 percent a year ago at this time." Season-ticket revenue is 30% higher last September, but Stillman said, “We’re not there yet.” After signing deals with concessionaire Levy Restaurants and FS Midwest for TV, “the club under [former Owner Dave] Checketts took a significant portion of the money up front.” Stillman said, “We are dealing with some moves made by the previous ownership that do affect our financial situation going forward. The franchise doesn't get the benefit of that money over those (future) years. The previous ownership did some mortgaging of the future” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/1).
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