Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/15/13 at 04:16 PM ET
from Danny Ecker of Crain's Chicago,
Even with higher ticket and sponsorship revenues this season, Crain's estimates the Blackhawks annually spend between $10 million and $20 million more than they take in. The balance is made up from other companies under the Wirtz Corp. umbrella, including United Center Joint Venture.
This season's surge to the Stanley Cup Final hasn't made up for missed revenue from a lockout-shortened regular season, when the team continued to pay more than 100 non-player employees, but it has mitigated the pain.
Ticket sales from a dozen home playoff games—especially from the Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final, which are far more lucrative than regular-season contests—has poured roughly $15 million into the team's coffers.
Dating back to his father's ownership days, Mr. Wirtz says, the Blackhawks have turned to money from other businesses in the family empire to cover 13 player payroll installments each season. Five years ago, the team could make it through only one pay cycle on its own dime. As recently as last season, they got to late February. Next season, Mr. Wirtz says, they'll aim to reach late March or April.
Weep not for the Hawks owner. The team's losses are covered easily by his other highly successful interests, including Wirtz Beverage Co., which last year had nearly $2 billion in sales and distributes to the United Center, where his Blackhawks are a tenant.
“We're lucky enough to have a strong balance sheet, so we have the ability to bring money in from other businesses,” he says. “But you don't want (the team) to be dependent on some other business to siphon off profits.”
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