SBD/June 28, 2013/Franchises

Wirtz: Business For Blackhawks Has Never Been Better; Profitablity Probable Within Years

Wirtz thinks the Blackhawks could benefit by marketing to more women
Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz "again has the hottest sports brand in town" after a second Stanley Cup in four years, and with both fans and advertisers "jumping at the chance to be associated with a winner, business has never been better," according to Meg Graham of CHICAGOGRID.com. Wirtz said, "I think (the Cup) certainly helps with corporate sponsorships. It doesn’t hurt on the renewals. And obviously merchandise sales, and then just demand for tickets." He added that the Blackhawks have "roped in the hard-to-understand millennial demographic without really knowing how." Wirtz: "I don’t know why we have so many 20-somethings following our sport. They’re discovering it, they’re talking about it, they’re watching it together, they’re meeting at their favorite watering holes to view it and to celebrate. I think it’s part of the whole lifestyle of what younger people are looking for." Graham reported the team has "courted other nontraditional hockey demographics." Wirtz said that the Blackhawks "have a 40 percent female fan base and plan to do more to speak to that group." He added, "We’re not properly marketing to enough women. Many times advertisers are looking at this as a ‘21- to 54-year-old male.' We’ve gone a long way in knowing who our fan is, but we have a long way to go still." Graham noted Wirtz also believes that ticket prices "won’t scare away season ticket owners, who can now regard their purchase as a safer investment." That "new class of fan also opens the door to new classes of sponsors and other revenue streams." Though Wirtz maintains that the team will "lose money this year, he believes the Blackhawks will be profitable in two or three years." Part of that will "be continuing to invest in high-quality production of a sport that Wirtz admits is 'not an easy game to broadcast'" (CHICAGOGRID.com, 6/26).

PREVENTING A BREAKUP: In Chicago, Mark Lazerus writes while not every member of the team's roster will return next season, the "carnage won’t be anywhere close to the purge that took place after the 2010 championship, when more than half the team departed." Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane said, "Looking back to 2010, you had to win it that year because the next year, everyone was going to be gone. This year, there shouldn’t be too many changes." Lazerus notes the team's "biggest concern" is re-signing LW Bryan Bickell. They "might have to move a piece of their core" to do that (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/28).
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