The business side of the Blackhawks, which has emerged from the pandemic, has arguably changed as much as its roster and front office.
Danny Wirtz and Jaime Faulkner take over as CEO and business president, respectively, in 2020, ushering in a lengthy period of internal review and restructuring. As the 2022-23 season kicks off, the organization is finally entering a new era of relative stability, during which changes will ideally begin to bear fruit.
“We’re very excited about the team we have,” Faulkner and Wertz told The Sun-Times on Wednesday.
Five of the six VPs on the Eagles’ new business operations leadership team – Eryn McVerry (brand), Jamie Spencer (revenue), Matt Gray (strategy and analysis), Marcus LeBeouf (general counsel), Shara Meisinger (people) and Culture)) and TJ Skattum (Finance) – to join the organization in 2021 or 2022.
Even structurally, the Eagles have made changes. They acquired Rockford IceHogs in April 2021, integrating the management of their longtime AHL affiliate into their own management. They also incorporated the operations of the community skating rink and practice facility Fifth Third Arena into their corporate structure.
“[In doing so]we found more talented people, but we also found some duplication of what we were doing, and opportunities and gaps where we didn’t have enough resources or capabilities,” Faulkner said.
Sources confirmed that the Eagles did make mass layoffs in some areas this summer, but Faulkner said most of the staff turnover was natural and voluntary.
“We also have a lot of very talented people who have been with us during these three periods [Stanley] Cups was part of the group’s first establishment, and they said, ‘I’ve been there, done it, but don’t have the energy to do it again,'” she said. “We had a couple of people who said, ‘Hey, I don’t have what you need. skills and abilities. ‘ and the corona [prompted] A lot of people in sports are rethinking what they want to do. “
The Eagles, on the other hand, have significantly expanded certain departments, such as the strategy and analytics team that Gray oversees.
The analytics team in hockey operations has grown from two to six, thanks to several new additions to the Cubs. Analytics teams in business operations have been similarly developed, using some of the same data and techniques used by hockey analysts — such as the new “NHL Edge IQ” dataset, which includes player and puck tracking — but in different way to analyze it.
“I think we went from the smallest analytics and strategy team in the league to the largest,” Faulkner said. “There is no team [previously]. Maybe one or two people aren’t even getting the right resources they need to do their jobs well.
“Now, any major decision we make for the organization, they are involved. [Their data has] Notify us of new ticket packages available. It informs pricing decisions. …it tells us how we view corporate partners, how we identify brands that share the same values and that we can complement each other’s businesses. “
On the sales front, the Eagles are pleased with the response to their new season ticket membership program, which includes an 84 percent reduction in seat fares, greater flexibility in full-season and partial-season plans, and more fringe benefits for members.
While the United Center will have fewer spectators this season than it has been in more than a decade — something the Eagles’ expected on-ice fight made it inevitable — season ticket renewal rates have indeed exceeded expectations.
While the extra space will allow the Eagles to invite larger groups to play together, seven areas (306 to 312) have been designated for group sales and special promotions at the end of a shoot at the 300 level.
“It’s something we haven’t been able to offer in the past,” Faulkner said. “If a youth hockey association wants to bring their families and their kids, sometimes as many as 1,000, we have to spread them all over the place. It’s not like we can have them sitting relatively close together. So interesting. … we wish it was more compelling because there [will be] There was a lot of noise happening in that part. “
The end result is that the Eagles are “not worried” about their organizational revenue prospects, even as they enter a long-term rebuild.
“All metrics look very good,” Wirtz said. “It’s also an investment phase for us, so hopefully over time the revenue will grow and our profit outlook will be a bit better.”
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