Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/06/09 at 10:46 PM ET
from Tripp Mickle of SportsBusiness Journal via the Sporting News,
When unemployment was 6.9 percent and Detroit’s economy first caught a cold in 2007, the Detroit Red Wings were the first team to sneeze. As the NBA’s Detroit Pistons played to capacity and baseball’s Tigers’ attendance increased, Red Wings attendance slipped to 94.2 percent of capacity and hockey’s perennial winners failed to sell out the playoffs.
“Fans were having to make some tough choices,” said Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Cos., in May 2008. “It felt like there was a shift in the marketplace from the economy.”
The Red Wings began making changes immediately, offering giveaways for the first time and hiring senior executive Steve Violetta from the Nashville Predators to manage the team’s business operations. Those moves and others have put the team a step ahead of its peers in dealing with the economic devastation in Detroit.
“This didn’t sneak up on anybody,” Violetta said. “This has been going on for three or four years.”
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