This week the Chicago Blackhawks have unveiled four significant items focused squarely on enhancing their relationship with a very diverse fan base. Let that sink in for a moment. This is a sports team with one of the largest and most loyal group of fans already. The team’s success on its own is enough to drive interest. Yet, under the leadership of owner Rocky Wirtz, this is an organization dedicated to trying to improve fan interaction and experiences however and whenever it can.
McDonough Gets it Started
I personally believe momentum really started when the Blackhawks hired John McDonough in 2007 as President. He added the title of C.E.O in 2011. Under his guidance, Forbes Magazine has called the Blackhawks “The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever.” Under his direction and leadership in 2014, The Hockey News named the Blackhawks “Best Franchise”. Then there is 373 consecutive home sell-outs, with the team leading the NHL in attendance for 7 consecutive years and counting.
So what in the name of the almighty Hockey Gods do the Blackhawks need to do to further drive a positive fan interaction? Consider the following four announcements between February 9th and 10th:
24 Hours – Four Amazing Announcements
The Blackhawks, under the development of Just Be Friends, launched a kid friendly App back in 2014 called Club Blackhawks. It provides kids with safe access (parental security built-in) to build a fantasy team, watch Blackhawks highlights, and play trivia games. Another very sensible and absolutely obvious need met. However, the application was missing one key piece: the ability to safely interact live through monitored mobile chat.
Well as of February 9th, this is no longer a problem. According to the Blackhawks press release, Meucci, an app built by Kelowna, (the British Columbia-based Club Blackhawks app architect for Just Be Friends Kids), is billed as a first-of-its-kind sports team messenger app compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Children registered at Club Blackhawks will be able to now log into a team group through the Meucci app and have live peer-to-peer chats with other members, play trivia or fantasy games and partake of live mobile party events. This includes the ability to live chat with Blackhawks players and Ambassadors. How cool is that people?
Less than twenty-four hours later on February 10th, the City of Chicago officially approved owner Rocky Wirtz’s continued commitment to fostering young hockey fans within the city. Specifically, Wirtz is spending about $60 million to build a new 125,000-square-foot, 2-rink ice center just south of the United Center that will be used mostly to host youth hockey clinics and leagues. Construction is expected to be completed in two years.
Also on February 10th, 2014 the team announced a partnership with AM radio station Univision Chicago. Univsion will broadcast the first ever Spanish telecast against the Detroit Red Wings on March 6th. Most fans already know of the close connection between soccer and hockey, and understand that soccer is the premier sport in the Spanish-speaking world. This seems like a no-brainer (from a P.R. and Marketing standpoint), and I cannot believe it wasn’t done sooner. Kudos to the Blackhawks for continuing to acknowledge their diversified fan base.
Lastly, the team also announced that CSN Chicago, the main local television broadcaster of Blackhawks’ games, will broadcast the Stadium Series Alumni Game between former North Stars players and the Blackhawk Alumni on Saturday February 20th.
The game is being played outdoors in Minnesota the day before NBC broadcasts the outdoor game between the Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. Yes that is right, the showcase game on Sunday is nationally televised, so this is quite an expense just to appease local fans back home unable to make the trip. I am fortunate enough to be going, but am absolutely thrilled that I can now record the Alumni game and watch it again later. CSN obviously understands the draw, but stick taps to the Blackhawks for providing Chicago fans unprecedented access to see and hear from their favorite Alumni. Of course that assumes Jeremy Roenick doesn’t hog the microphone and camera.
Hat Trick Complete
Thus, in the span of less than two business days, the Blackhawks enhanced its interaction with the youngest of fans, got the official go-ahead to build a large inter-city community ice arena, rolled out plans for the first ever team radio broadcast in Spanish, and committed to a television broadcast of the Stadium Series Alumni Game. Boom! Address the growing young fan base and make them life-long fans, check! Address the needs of one if its largest non-English speaking fan bases, check! Continue to acknowledge the older fans and contributions of players before the Toews-Kane Era, check! Not a bad 24 hours of work.
Once again you have set the bar high for all other professional sports teams within and outside of the NHL. Quite the hat trick Chicago Blackhawks.
Until next time readers!
Author’s Note: The announcement that the Blackhawks will host the 2017 NHL Draft came after the release of this article