Just Ducky: NHL franchise plans celebration around 25-year milestone as business metrics rise
Working in the entertainment and production department of the then California Angels of MLB, Aaron Teats remembers the sentiment in the region when the NHL’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were founded in 1993.
“When this area was granted a franchise, I think there was this feeling of how in the world can we possibly have another hockey team that shares the same market [as the Los Angeles Kings]?” Teats said.
Twenty-five years later, the team is known as the Anaheim Ducks, Teats is the CMO and the organization is planning an anniversary season that looks back at the successes, while it also builds toward the future.
“We have a multi-pronged approach,” said Teats, who joined the team in 1994. “For those that have been with us throughout, we want to take them back down that path and jog some of those memories of the Mighty Ducks. We also see this as an opportunity to reach out to folks that maybe haven’t been and shine some light on the things we’ve been able to do in the community in the last 25 years.
“If I look back and see where we started with our Disney roots and where we are now with [owners] the Samuelis, there’s a great sense of pride for what we have been able to accomplish.”
Some of those plans are still to be finalized, as the NHL only announced the 2018-19 regular-season schedule last week. Still, Teats said to expect nods to the team’s history — including its 2007 Stanley Cup championship — through special themed-nights and throwback merchandise, celebrations of the growth of local hockey and how the team’s foundation and community efforts have affected Orange County. Teats also said the organization is in discussions with Disney about ways to celebrate the team’s roots, which date back to the 1992 movie that led to its name.
The anniversary season also will be a year to highlight the Ducks’ business growth. Although he declined to provide specific figures, Chief Commercial Officer Bill Pedigo said that the previous year was the team’s all-time high in overall revenue, as well as revenue from premium seating and ticketing, and that the buzz around the anniversary is further boosting that.
The team already has sold more than 1,000 new season tickets for next season, and with last year’s renewal rate of over 90 percent, the organization expects more than 13,000 season-ticket and suite holders for the coming year — which should again set a record in ticket revenue.
Sponsorship revenue for the coming season is already up double digits compared to the previous year even with more than three months until the start of the season, largely due to the team signing its first season-presenting sponsor in UCI Health. Pedigo declined to comment on the terms of the deal but said it was a multimillion-dollar agreement that would rank UCI Health among the team’s largest sponsors.
Perhaps the biggest moment for the club in the coming year is when it opens its $100 million ice complex and practice facility in Irvine, which at more than 280,000 square feet with four rinks will be the largest of its kind in California.
“When I look back at 1993 and think about how different our hockey community is now, I can’t wait to see what the future brings,” Teats said.