One of the "most dramatic increases" in the Blackhawks' fanbase has "come from a demographic you might not expect: women," according to Danny Ecker of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. Data from research firm Scarborough shows that women now make up 38% "of the Hawks faithful locally," up from 28% in '08. The data comes from twice-a-year surveys of "more than 4,100 Chicago residents on whether they watched, attended or listened to a Blackhawks game during a given period." While Blackhawks games on Comcast SportsNet Chicago last season were 73% higher than the net's "previous all-time hockey ratings record average of 3.11, ratings in the women 18-34 and women 21-34 categories each rose" by 102%. Sponsors and advertisers have "come onboard because of the female fan appeal, too." Lincolnshire, Ill.-based mail-order office-supply company Quill.com "recently renewed its corporate partnership with the team in part because it tested well with women, who make up the majority of its customer base." The team has "acknowledged the shift," and Chair Rocky Wirtz has "pushed team management to dig deeper into the makeup of its rapidly expanding following to better serve" its female fans. The Blackhawks "lead all NHL teams" on photo-sharing website Pinterest, with "more than 7,100 followers." Team Exec VP Jay Blunk said, "The strategy remains to mainstream the Blackhawks brand. Our hope is for the continued development of a deeper connection to the Blackhawks brand if fans identify with the personalities of our players" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 10/15).
Pirates Owner Bob Nutting appeared on Pittsburgh-based KDKA-FM to discuss the future of the team after the organization's first playoff appearance since '92. Nutting said it was "premature to have a discussion" about the future of GM Neal Huntington, who is under contract for next year with a club option in '15, but the "feeling inside and outside the organization is very positive and very strong." Nutting said of possibly raising payroll going forward, "What we've seen the last several years as we've been able to focus at the Major League level without losing focus on our development system, without mortgaging the future, we've been able to increase our commitment to Major League payroll. I certainly would like to see that continue as we move forward, and it's far too early in the process either for us internally to pick a number and certainly not one we're going to talk about at this point. But that progression over time is something I'd like to see continue." He added the organization is "on the right side of that hurdle" in terms of players seeing Pittsburgh as a place they want to play as opposed to prior years, but "it's a constant process." Nutting: "There's a perception in baseball that we're an organization deeply committed to excellence and to success and (we're) beginning to show that on the field, and we need to do more of that. I think all of those cultural pieces will make it more attractive for someone to come to Pittsburgh. People love to be part of a successful organization. I've seen that success building" (KDKA-FM, 10/15).
Orlando City Soccer Club Owner & President Phil Rawlins said if the team clears the final hurdle next week toward having its new stadium plan approved, then "by the end of November, we'd hope to have an MLS announcement in Orlando that we'll be joining" the league, according to Paul Tenorio of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The Orlando City Council this month unanimously approved a $20M plan to provide tourist taxes for the stadium, and the deal now just needs to be approved by the Orange County Commission. Rawlins said, "Our plan is to play in 2015, so that gives about 16 months to get prepared. And first kick for MLS would be March of 2015." He said of the potential transition from the USL to MLS, "The club is organized very much along the lines of a small Major League (Soccer) club today. All the departments are already in place, it's not like we're creating whole new parts to the organization. ... So we'd go from approximately just over 20 employees to somewhere around 60 full-time employees. So 40-plus new jobs created across those departments." Rawlins said of the team's name, "The name will stay the same. ... We're not going to go away from Lions and go to Giraffes or something, we'll still be the Lions, but the logo itself will change because that becomes a trademark, copyright of Major League Soccer." He said of potential MLS expansion, "I don't see it being a four-team expansion in 2015. I think the likelihood is it'll be us and New York in '15 and then three more expansion franchises to go before the end of the decade." Rawlins said of MLS adding a team to the Southeast, "We'd love to see a regional rival. Whether that's Miami or Atlanta, I'm completely open to. There is plenty of room in the Southeast for two teams" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/13).
In Indianapolis, Michael Boren noted Broncos QB Peyton Manning returning to the city for Sunday night’s game against the Colts is “bringing out some of the highest ticket prices for an NFL game this season in the secondary market.” Data from ticket search engine SeatGeek showed that the average price on the secondary market has “shot up to $334 a ticket.” It is the “third-most expensive NFL game this season” behind Broncos-Giants and 49ers-Seahawks (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/15).
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: In Buffalo, Tim O’Shei notes between 19-25% of fans attending Bills games at Ralph Wilson Stadium “come from Southern Ontario.” Bills Exec VP/Strategic Planning Mary Owen said that 12-15% of Bills season-ticket holders are Canadian, a number that has “doubled since the Toronto series began” in ’08. The team now aims to "help other Western New York businesses expand their own interests in Toronto.” The Bills are “teaming with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to hold a business symposium in Toronto the day after the team’s Dec. 1 game” against the Falcons at Rogers Centre (BUFFALO BUSINESS FIRST, 10/11 issue).
THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS: In N.Y., Brian Costello writes MetLife Stadium’s “main issue is a problem many franchises are facing across sports -- many true, rabid fans have been priced out of the stadium entirely, or at least the good seats, thanks to PSLs and high prices on everything from parking to a bottle of water.” In their places are the fans whose “wallets are bigger than their knowledge of Jets history.” When building the stadium the Jets “put a higher priority on the bottom line than making sure the place was loud when the opponent was on the goal line” (N.Y. POST, 10/16).
NOISE ORDINANCE: In light of Chiefs fans setting a decibel record for the loudest crowd during last Sunday’s game against the Raiders, K.C.-area audiologist Jim Robertson said that Arrowhead Stadium’s noise “may help the Chiefs, but it’s probably hurting your ears.” He said, “I cannot stress enough that hearing protection devices must be used at Arrowhead if these dB levels continue as they surely will with this winning season.” Univ. of Kansas physician Hinrich Staecker said that on Monday his office “received calls from Arrowhead fans who found their ears still ringing" (K.C. STAR, 10/15).