IceCaps COO Stanford addresses St. John’s Board of Trade
St. John’s IceCaps Governor and Chief Operating Officer Glenn Stanford addressed the St. John’s Board of Trade at a luncheon Wednesday afternoon at the Delta Hotel.
Speaking in front of more than 130 members of the board, Stanford touched on the challenges in bringing the American Hockey League (AHL) back to Newfoundland and Labrador, and the successes the organization has had since beginning operations prior to the 2011-2012 hockey season. He also outlined the marketing opportunities that are still there for the corporate community.
“I am a very big supporter of the American Hockey League,” Stanford said. “I believe it is a tremendous product and works incredibly well for certain markets. St. John’s is certainly on top of that list.”
Of the organization’s success so far this season, Stanford credited the outstanding support of its corporate partners.
“We have more than 35 corporate partners this season,” said Stanford. “There was a strong demonstrated corporate support in the past and when we brought the IceCaps to the city we were confident the corporate community would be there to support the return of the AHL. And it has been a win-win partnership. From tickets to online presence, to in-game promotions and community involvement, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved. In fact, we believe the best is yet to come. With the fast start-up to our season, we think there are a number of incredible opportunities that are still available for this year and next.”
Stanford indicated that to-date the St. John’s IceCaps have more than 13,000 social media fans on Facebook and Twitter, and the website has seen 200,000 unique visitors in only six months. “Building on this incredible traffic we invite the corporate community to look at ways to partner with us to help extend these platforms for our mutual benefit,” added Stanford.
Community involvement has also been an integral piece of the puzzle for the IceCaps. Through both the IceCaps Care Foundation and the Williams Family Foundation, the organization has contributed more than $200,000 to date to 28 worthwhile charities. This is in large part due to fan support at games through the 50/50 program. As well, more than 150 organizations have benefitted from in-kind donations.
“We will continue to grow and implement community programming that supports the themes of health, education, wellness, and youth,” Stanford stated.
With demand for tickets still strong and the current support of season ticket holders and sponsors unwavering, the potential for significant growth is there.
In his speech, Stanford also outlined the history of how the AHL was brought back to St. John’s, including the obstacles that were faced. One of the main concerns shared by a number of prospective National Hockey League (NHL) clubs during negotiations was the amount of travel that would be necessary for the players and the impact that would have on their families, as well as the product on the ice.
“Previously with the St. John’s Maple Leafs we had only seven trips per season, some of which were up to 18 days at a time,” Stanford stated. “That needed to change, and we made the commitment that we would increase the road trips to nine per year. Our average road trip is now less than 10 days.”
Long road trips also impact the wives and families of the players, something not lost on Stanford from his time spent with the Maple Leafs and the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
“We do the little things well. We make sure they are active with fitness passes, and get them involved with schools and charities,” Stanford said.
Ultimately in negotiating an agreement with True North Sports and Entertainment, Stanford and the IceCaps’ leadership team, headed by President and Chief Executive Officer Danny Williams, were able to deal with the potential negatives associated with bringing professional hockey back to St. John’s; and they were able to offset the negatives by offering many great advantages to the ownership group in Winnipeg that would prove advantageous for both their AHL and NHL organizations.
“St. John’s has a great building for AHL hockey,” said Stanford. “It has 6,287 seats with 25 corporate suites. It is the right size and we knew there would be a significant demand for tickets. And we were right. We have 34 consecutive sell outs to-date with no end in sight. There is also good pressure on the team in this market as the hockey fan in Newfoundland is knowledgeable and will hold the players accountable both on and off the ice”.
“Although it has required a great deal of work by a lot of people, the main reason for our success has no doubt been due to the support of the entire city, including our season ticket holders and corporate partners. We could not have written a better script for year one. We thank you for being a part of it, and we invite you to continue to be a part of IceCaps hockey. The best is yet to come.”