SBJ/20100607/This Week's News

AHL rolling out its plans for 75th birthday

The AHL this week plans to unveil a new logo to celebrate the league’s 75th year of operation and announce a series of marketing efforts designed to promote the league’s history.

The red-white-and-blue logo features a large “75” set in a shield beneath the AHL logo and above the dates of the league’s inception (1936) and its 75th anniversary (2011). It will be featured as a patch on each team’s uniform and as a decal on each player’s helmet throughout the season.

To promote its anniversary, the AHL scheduled a series of home-and-home games to open the season between its six oldest teams. Rochester will play Hershey, Syracuse will play Lake Erie and Springfield will play Providence. The teams will wear replica jerseys from earlier in their franchise history.

The league also designed a special 75th anniversary jersey that will be worn by four teams during the season. The teams will wear the 75th logo on the chest of the jersey and match the rest of the jersey to their respective color scheme. They will be able to wear the jersey as many times as they want.

“Jerseys are our primary licensing revenue and any time you have a new element, fans really gravitate to it,” said AHL Commissioner Dave Andrews.

The league has developed a series of in-arena videos to support the 75th anniversary. It will provide its teams with videos that highlight important players, landmark games and significant moments in the league’s history. The AHL also hopes to have each team celebrate an anniversary night during which it honors some of the franchise’s past players.

“It’s a significant accomplishment to be a league going into its 75th season of continuous play,” Andrews said. “Not a lot of leagues can say that. We’re very proud of the heritage of the league, and our history is an important part of our brand.”

The AHL is coming off a strong 2009-10 season during which ticket revenue increased 4.6 percent. Season-ticket sales were down but teams made up the gap with group and partial sales, Andrews said.

The league also saw its sponsorship revenue increase 3.5 percent. It recently signed an extension through 2015-16 with its supplier, Reebok, and a renewal with EA Sports that will see it featured alongside NHL teams in EA’s hockey game.

The league has always wanted to have 30 teams, the same number as the NHL. It will achieve that goal next season when the Charlotte Checkers and Oklahoma City Barons join the league.

“We’ve come through a tough economy and we’re confident we’re well-positioned now to continue to grow as the economy improves,” Andrews said.

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