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Volume 21 No. 13
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NHL applying lessons from centennial year to ‘the next 100’

The Centennial Fan Arena traveled to all 31 NHL markets in 2017.
Photo: NHL

When the NHL kicks off its 2018 All-Star celebration in Tampa this week, the event won’t feature something that has been a core focus for the league over the last 12 months — a celebration of its centennial year.

The centennial celebration wrapped up in December following a calendar’s worth of events, activations and content. While the league won’t take that celebration front and center in Tampa, it will apply its centennial learnings to all of its programming going forward.


“What we were able to do this past year has led us all across every department to realize that there are many blueprints for future use in this,” said Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer. “Granted while we had the forum to present everything under this banner of the centennial, we saw the impact that the game can have on people, and also saw more of what our fans want.”


Highlights from the 100th

  • More than 1 million fans attended centennial-related events, including two outdoor games.
  • NHL Centennial Fan Arena made 38 total stops, including all 31 NHL markets, and attracted more than 775,000 fans.
  • The league published more than 1,000 original video vignettes, 600 stories and 2,000 historical images.
  • The NHL100 conversation on social media generated 6.6 billion impressions.
  • More than 25 partners activated.

Source: NHL

Mayer said that as the league has planned out its All-Star Game, and the Stadium Series game set to be played in March, the question has been: “How do we amp up our events without the centennial? How do we make it even more great without it?”


Internally, the discussion has been around “the next 100,” taking what was overwhelmingly successful and applying it to all of its departments and operations in producing fan-facing events and content.


In Tampa, that will come in the form of more alumni, and programming around them will be a big part of the fan experience.


The NHL also will hold its fan festival outside of Amalie Arena in Tampa, akin to the Fan Arena truck tour used for the 100th celebration. Typically, the event is held in a convention center. The league will also crib some notes on fan experience elements that had success at the Fan Arena, such as the presence of the Stanley Cup. The league will host a free outdoor concert in Tampa to draw even more people to the area.


The NHL and all of its teams are looking into replicating the Fan Arena experience more frequently locally, either through different fan festivals or other outdoor activations.


The NHL also is looking at its digital and social content plans in light of its centennial initiatives, which often focused on daily historical facts and video vignettes.


“From our perspective, all the things we launched in this last year are absolute precursors to what we want to do in the future,” Mayer said. “We learned good and bad, what works and what doesn’t, and it’s helped to start a content plan, an event plan and an experiential plan.”