Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough recently addressed Illinoisâ€™ Society for Information Management concerning his plans to integrate technology to help the team and the sport connect with a younger demographic. As reported by Brad Spirrison, McDonough â€“ former president of the Chicago Cubs - revealed his approach to bringing innovation into the business side of sports.
"One of our primary goals is to connect with the younger demographic. We have not had home games televised for decades and have missed out on two generations. If we're going to get those fans back, technology will have to provide an assist." While with the Cubs, McDonough was one of the first, if not the first, to introduce wireless communications between the manager and coaches in the dugout and the coaches and players in the bullpen.
The National Hockey League is the highest professional level of, with the possible exception of baseball, a sport more linked to tradition and heritage than any other. As an entitiy, it has capitalized on the benefits inherent to embracing the legacy of the past, and of fostering a generational connection between fans and players. As with MLB, there is a slice of the consumer base that devours the past as eagerly as it does the present. Of course, that also presents a challenge when attempting to take a collective step forward by changing models for how fans and consumers may enjoy the game. It appears the McDonough has recognized this, as he is starting with simple measures like putting the team back on local television.
Of course, he also has a broader vision for the future: "Inside an arena or ballpark, you get far less information than if you are watching a game at home. Going forward, there will be devices that will allow you to learn where a player is from and see how many goals he had the past year. All this information will be at your fingertips, and what you can see inside a facility will be a lot more like what you can see on television."
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Bill Johnson is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network