The Carolina Hurricanes today launched its "NHL All-Star Crusade," a campaign to grow its season ticket base to 12,000 fans and, in the process, bring the NHL All-Star Game to the Triangle by 2006.
Jim Cain, president and CEO of the Hurricanes, announced at an early morning news conference that the organization had accepted the challenge issued by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on March 21: grow the season ticket base and earn the opportunity to host the NHL All-Star Game.
"We going to do it because the community deserves the All-Star Game," he said. "It will have a tremendous impact with over 100,000 visitors to the area, 9,000 hotel rooms booked, full restaurants, tax revenues, and television coverage in over 100 countries. The economic impact of hosting this event could be well over $20 million."
With the support of the Friends of the Canes, a booster group made up of Triangle business and political leaders, the organization gave an overview of its plan for achieving the goal by May 31, 2001. The plan includes the sale of full season tickets, mini-season ticket packages, flexible payment plans, and the involvement of key corporate leaders.
Area business leaders cheered the Canes’ efforts at the news conference, which was held in the team locker room, as three major Triangle businesses stepped forward to announce their support of the drive.
GlaxoSmithKline, Touchstone Energy and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced commitments to purchase a minimum of 500 season ticket equivalents, setting an aggressive pace for the campaign. That puts the Hurricanes’ season ticket base at 6,802 at the official launch date.
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is proud to be a 'Friend of the Hurricanes' in their effort to increase season ticket sales," said John Roos, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "As the state's largest health insurer, and one of the Triangle's largest employers, it is important for us to support the economic growth and development of this region and the state."
When the 12,000 mark is reached, Cain also announced that the team will donate $1 million to local educational and charitable organizations. The Canes are meeting with different groups to develop details on how the corporate giving program will work. Some funds, Cain said, would be earmarked for educational support. Other funds, he said, would be donated to the Canes' charitable arm, the Kids 'n Community Foundation, and dispersed through an application process. The Foundation is a separate non-profit agency governed by a board of directors.
"With the community supporting us so strongly, it’s only right that we support the community," said Cain. "We're in the process of working out the details, but we feel that this $1 million donation will have a significant impact on educational programs, publicly funded ventures and non-profit groups in the Triangle region."
The official launch of the season ticket drive follows Bettman's visit to the Triangle on March 21 to meet with Hurricanes management and the Friends of the Canes. At that time, he announced that the Triangle would host the NHL Draft between 2003 and 2005. He also guaranteed that the League would award the Triangle the All-Star Game, provided that the Canes reached their season ticket goal.
Doug Piper, Executive Vice President of Business Operations, outlined the team's strategic plan over the next 60 days. He said the team will market three different 7-game season ticket plans, one of which will feature prominent weekday games for business entertainment. The other two will feature popular weekend games aimed at family entertainment. In addition, 14-game and 21-game season ticket plans will be offered, as well as full season tickets. Large group and corporate sales will also be part of the mix, as will tickets purchased for charity and educational incentive programs.
In order to relieve financial concerns, the team is making it easier for fans to purchase tickets with four new payment plan options. All local banks in the Triangle have agreed to participate in an automatic bank draft program, with 20 equal payments that begin in June. The second option is an automatic charge card plan, where the Hurricanes will charge 10 equal payments during the course of the year, beginning in June. The third plan involves standard invoicing, and the fourth involves payroll deduction plans at select companies.
As further incentive, the average season ticket price will remain the same, Piper said, although some seating in the lower level and upper level center ice areas will increase by up to $5 per game; some seats will have a lower price tag than last year. People who purchase tickets at the higher prices will be rewarded with parking discounts, access to the exclusive Arena Club Restaurant and club level, and other amenities, Piper said.
The Hurricanes also unveiled a new season ticket drive logo that will be featured in its advertising and campaign promotions over the next 60 days. Radio and television ads will feature coach Paul Maurice, team captain Ron Francis, Raleigh Chamber President Harvey Schmitt, Raleigh Mayor Paul Coble, Durham Mayor Nick Tennyson and Friends of the Canes president Jim Goodmon, as well as other local business leaders.