RALEIGH (May 31, 2001) -- The Carolina Hurricanes organization heard the call from National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and challenged themselves to meet it.
On March 21 Bettman guaranteed the Hurricanes the right to host the NHL All-Star Game within five years of raising their season ticket base to 12,000. Today, at a “Thank you Triangle” rally at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, Hurricanes President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Cain announced that the team surpassed Bettman’s target number.
Harris Teeter, a major North Carolina-based grocery chain purchased 1,000 season ticket equivalents to push the Carolina franchise’s season ticket base to 12,309 for the 2001-02 season.
“Just yesterday we announced that we were at 11,067 season tickets,” said Cain. “That’s 4,760 new season tickets since April 1 of this year.
“As of two hours ago our season ticket total was 11,309 which is phenomenal for an eight-week campaign – phenomenal what the fans in the Triangle did. But, of course, it was 691 season tickets short.
“But, that was two hours ago. Harris Teeter, in the last two hours, has come forward with a commitment of 1,000 season tickets which brings our total, as of right now, to 12,309 season tickets.”
The Hurricanes began their season ticket drive at 6,302 – 2000-01’s season ticket total. The team must now begin work to renew those tickets.
Hurricanes CEO and General Manager Jim Rutherford spoke to the crowd assembled outside of the Arena’s south entrance.
“This is a great day for this franchise. I’d like to thank the fans so much. They’ve been great fans since the first day we got here and obviously, now, this base is much greater than it’s ever been.
“When we first came here, when Mr. Karmanos moved the team, he had a vision,” said Rutherford. “When you move a team you look for that first exciting day and we knew it would take a few years. We knew what the obstacles were – playing 70 minutes away was difficult, but fans really supported us well there.
“The steps we’ve taken forward for this franchise now – moving from four years ago or five years ago with Peter Karmanos and Steve Stroud and the politicians breaking ground here on a windy, dusty day – what a long way this franchise has come. Many thanks to the corporate community, to the fans that have stuck with us, and really a special thanks to Jim Cain and (Hurricanes Executive Vice President of Business Operations) Doug Piper who put this plan in place and worked it with your support. They really deserve a lot of credit for the plan. And, I’d really like to thank Jim Goodmon and the Friends of the Canes because, all of the pieces to this puzzle are what it took to get to this great, successful day.
“People don’t have to talk about this franchise anymore as a franchise that doesn’t care about hockey. We’ve got a great community here, a great fan-base and a great organization.”
Following Rutherford, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice addressed the crowd.
“As coaches – the other coaches are here today -- we get a huge payoff from this, too,” said Maurice. “We get a lot of people at all of our games and I’ll tell you what. It makes a huge difference. The players really appreciate it – not just for the All-Star Game – but for the support over the entire year.
“We’re all proud to be the Carolina Hurricanes and we’re certainly proud to live in this area. But, we’re very proud of the work that you did to bring the All-Star Game so that we all get to enjoy it. Congratulations.”
Before Cain wrapped up the news conference, Hurricanes captain Ron Francis addressed the crowd.
“Actually, we have the easy part,” said Francis. “We get to go out there and perform something we love to do. Certainly it’s great for us to be able to perform it in front of large crowds.
“I think this year went a long way in our relationship with the fans and the fans relationship with the players, especially the game at the end of the season when we beat Atlanta and we still weren’t sure if we made the playoffs. But you people stuck around in your seats and watched (Boston lose on) the JumboTron for about a half-hour until we were finally assured that we made the playoffs.
“And the last two minutes, the standing ovation at the end of Game 6, were absolutely tremendous – our players still talk about that. I’ve had phone conversations with a lot of the guys and they’re absolutely ecstatic that we reached the 12,000 season ticket requirement and very excited about next season and putting on a great show again.”
Hurricanes Assistant General Manager Jason Karmanos and Rutherford each spoke with Carolina owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. today regarding the All-Star Crusade’s success. Karmanos could not attend the rally due to a board meeting at his Detroit-based company, Compuware.
Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin can be reached at email@example.com.