The Blackhawks began play in the 1926–27 season, along with new expansion franchises Detroit Cougars and New York Rangers. One of the original six NHL franchises, the Blackhawks had much early success winning the Cup in 1931, 1934 and 1961.
Since that Cup win in 1961, the team was mediocre at best and regularly struggled to make the playoffs.
A somber note was struck in February 2004, when ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in professional sports. Indeed, the Blackhawks were viewed with much indifference by Chicagoans for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, due to anger over several policies instituted by then-owner Bill Wirtz (derisively known as “Dollar Bill”). For example, Wirtz did not allow home games to be televised in the Chicago area, claiming it was unfair to the team’s season ticket holders. He also raised ticket prices to an average of $50, among the most expensive in the league.
During this time the Blackhawks season ticket holders, the lifeblood of any sports team) numbered less than 5,000! The Blackhawks brand was practically dead.
On September 26, 2007, Bill Wirtz, the longtime owner of the Blackhawks, died after a brief battle with cancer. He was succeeded by his son, Rocky, who drastically altered his father’s long-standing policies.
In addition to the changes in the team’s policies and front office, the younger Wirtz also made a concerted effort to rebuild the team. According to a team source, He believed in “spending money to make money.” The Blackhawks roster was bolstered by the addition of a young player, Patrick Kane. Kane, the first overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, led all rookies in total points.
The addition of the local South Buffalo hockey kid caught the attention of Nick Giammusso President & CEO of VIP Seats. He started paying more attention and following what was going on with the Blackhawks in Chicago. On the first day of free agency, July 1, the team signed goaltender Cristobal Huet to a four-year US$22.5 million contract, and later signed defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract. The team also added former coaches Joel Quenneville and Scotty Bowman to their organization.
The three signs that led me to the decision to invest in Chicago Blackhawks season tickets for the 2008-2009 season were the additions of Patrick Kane, Brian Campbell and Scotty Bowman all with ties to Buffalo. I watched the Buffalo Sabres sell out of their season tickets a few years prior and I felt in my gut that the time was right in Chicago. So VIP Seats jumped in with both feet and committed to 74 season tickets!
With a waiting list for season tickets and two Stanley Cup Championships in five years, the Blackhawks have proven to be the single best investment VIP Seats has ever made. In fact, it’s the best investment I have ever made personally or professionally… home run! Our yearly Chicago Blackhawks season ticket investment has routinely returned 200- 300% year after year!!!
This NHL season is no different as the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves making yet another Stanley Cup run. I’m making travel arrangements to Chicago to work out of the downtown Hyatt Hotel for a week working the Stanley Cup Finals.
I’m constantly searching for another opportunity to jump in and make an investment in a storied franchise in a big city or region with a tarnished brand. I have my sights set on the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Islanders. I have recently missed the turnarounds with the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Oklahoma Thunder.
Like Kenny Rogers sings, you gotta know when to hold them, and know when to fold them. There is almost always a very small window of opportunity in which to act. Do your homework! Educate yourself and pay attention to what’s going on in the market. When the opportunity presents itself you’ll know exactly what to do and you will make an informed decision.
That and a bit of luck and you’ll have a home run too!