Priorities may finally be starting to change in the offices of the still yet to be named Las Vegas NHL franchise. A franchise that was officially awarded 96 days ago and since has added a GM, assistant GM, eight front office staffers with the word director in their title, a scouting staff that recently hit the double digits, multiple ticket executives, a few corporate sales people, and a host of others. It was a staff of 40 (by our count) and prior to today, had an incredibly light focus on marketing.
Via press release, the team announced Kim Frank as the new Vice President of Marketing. She’s a former Washington Capital and has also worked in the D.C. area with the Wizards and Georgetown University tallying an impressive 18 years in the sports marketing business.
But that’s not all. Teamwork.com, the chosen hiring agency for the new franchise, is also accepting applications for Street Team members who are described to be in charge of off-site events, communicating general hockey information, and INTERACTING WITH FANS.
I don’t use caps lock often, but when I do…
Over the first 100 days the focus has been on hockey operations; getting the staff in place that will make sure the team on the ice is a winner. No one can ever argue with that focus, because without that piece, all else is moot. However, the same can be said in reverse. A fan without a team isn’t really a fan, but a team without fans isn’t really a team either.
The team’s Twitter has 33,000 followers. Facebook has 10,400 fans. Instagram has a following of over 5,800. Oh, and remember that story from last week, more than 16,000 season tickets have been sold! There’s a fan base here, there’s just nothing being done to cultivate it.
Hopefully the hiring of a Vice President of Marketing will change that and hopefully this means we’ll see more events like Vegas Hockey Fan Fest outside of T-Mobile Arena on October 7th and 8th.
If you jump on the Washington Capitals website, you’ll see community engagement is paramount. Just look at the list of everything on the site that’s related to fans, and not the team on the ice.
- Kids Club
- Scarlet Caps (Female Fan Club)
- Red Rockers (Ice Girls/Cheerleaders)
- Club Red 365 (Season Ticket Holders)
- Hockey Fights Cancer
- Hockey Is For Everyone
- Special Hockey
- Hockey School
- Military Hockey
- Street Hockey
- Food Drive
- Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation
- Caps Local Hockey
- Caps “Learn To Play”
- Rink Partners
Now I get it, the Washington Capitals are a franchise that’s been around since 1974, they’ve got a bit of a head start. They also have a name… which kind of important in marketing. But here in Vegas, there’s been an open house (which was technically organized by T-Mobile Arena and not the team) and Vegas Hockey Fan Fest is on the schedule for the team’s 107th and 108th days of existence.
This isn’t me trying to point the finger at anyone on the staff. It’s not an indictment on anything that’s been done, or not done, thus far. And I’m certainly not trying to say anyone in the building hasn’t been doing a bang up job at what they’ve been tasked to do. It’s just an observation on the general focus of the organization. It feels like everything else comes first.
The underlying thought being, the building is sold out, so fans won’t be an issue. Hate to say it, but that’s just not how it works. Butts in the seats pay the bills, but a raging fan base is what makes the real money. Creating fans for life, giving people who can’t afford tickets a way to still feel a part of the team, and finding ways to become a major part of the fabric of the city is how you win in professional sports.
Thus far, the focus has been on laying the foundation of what’s to come, a foundation that’s vitally important to the success of the organization as a whole. But there’s been a clear lack of focus on the people who will be occupying that foundation, the fans. Because without them, the team is nothing.
So to the new VP of Marketing, Kim Frank, welcome to Las Vegas. Now stop reading SinBin.vegas and get to work, we’ve got a fan base to build!
When will the priority be to shift to choosing the coaching staff, before or after the 30 player draft? Either way, I recommend Ralph Kruger as a Head Coach candidate, provided he can get out of his South Hampton soccer team management contract. His forte seems to be to get the most out of a collection of mediocre players and overachieve with them. An example of this are Team Switzerland, who has not upset any teams since his departure. The Edmonton Oilers best winning percentage, in the last 10 years, was the only season that Ralph coached the club and he should never have been released, just because Todd McLellan became available. How about now, his Team Europe upset Sweden in the World Cup and is in the final against Canada today! George McPhee is a smart GM and already knows this and surely is considering Ralph Kruger.