SBD/June 18, 2013/Franchises

Blackhawks Losing Money Despite Second Stanley Cup Final Appearance In Four Years

Ticket sales for the team's 12 home playoff games have generated roughly $15M
Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz said that despite making a "second Stanley Cup Final appearance in four seasons and obliterating television ratings records," the team will need "at least two more years before turning a profit," according to Danny Ecker of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. Wirtz characterized this season's "accomplishments on the ice and at the ticket gate as 'setting us up to be in a much better place next year.'” Ecker notes Crain's estimates the Blackhawks annually spend $10-20M "more than they take in" despite "higher ticket and sponsorship revenues this season." This season's "surge to the Stanley Cup Final hasn't made up for missed revenue from a lockout-shortened regular season, when the team continued to pay more than 100 non-player employees, but it has mitigated the pain." Ticket sales from 12 home playoff games have "poured roughly $15 million into the team's coffers." The team's losses are "covered easily" by Wirtz' other "highly successful interests, including Wirtz Beverage Co." The team generates $20-25M annually from "sponsorships, television rights fees, including those from Comcast SportsNet Chicago (of which Mr. Wirtz is a part owner) and assorted income such as merchandise sales." But that "doesn't cover a third" of the $68M cost of player salaries. The Blackhawks spend nearly $20M on "staff, coaches and payments to subsidize the league's 10 lowest revenue-generating franchises as required" under the NHL's new CBA, creating the "reliance on ticket revenue." With attendance over capacity, the team's "take from tickets comes to less than $50 million based on the average price." Before the Stanley Cup playoffs began, the team said that it would "raise prices on next year's season tickets, which account for about 75 percent of all tickets sold, by an average of 16 percent, translating to an overall average ticket price of more than $70" (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 6/17 issue).

MY KIND OF TOWN: In Chicago, Fred Mitchell wrote the "whole city is abuzz, and not just the everyday sports fans of what once was considered sort of a niche sport." Players, coaches and management from the other teams in Chicago have "taken serious notice of the Hawks' success on the ice and the way they handle their business from top to bottom." Mitchell: "I have spent a lot of time around the Cubs, Sox and Bears the last few months and praise of the Blackhawks as an effective organization is widespread" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/15).
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