Sunrise Edition: The People Are Ready...
Monday, 08.31.2009 / 4:11 PM ET / Sunrise Edition
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I spent some time at the Panthers Countdown Caravan stop at Woodfield Country Club in Boca on Saturday and came away with one overriding feeling – South Florida sports fans are excited and the buzz is building around the return of Florida Panthers hockey.
I thought I was one of the few people who could tell you exactly how many days it is to Opening Night (it’s 39 for the record). Well I found out on Saturday that I was mistaken. Nearly every fan I spoke to, told me how pumped they are for the start of the season, how they plan on going to incredible ICE to watch our players during their unofficial skates and how thankful they are for the Countdown Caravan stops we’ve had over the last month so they had somewhere to go to express their excitement about Panthers hockey. In fact, I’ve already spoken to some of the players that are in town skating, and I’ve never seen a group so eager to get the season started.
It’s no wonder, as I analyze where we are from a business perspective, that we are ahead of last year’s pace on total season tickets and the Panthers Locker Room is nearly sold out, despite the current state of the economy (Call 954-835-PUCK for tickets). It is a testament to the loyalty of our fan base, and the positive attitude generated by an energetic young coach in Pete DeBoer and an aggressive and committed group of players that play an infectious brand of hockey.
And I can’t forget about our corporate partners – we’ll be announcing a few new ones in the coming days – who have also shown loyalty and passion for this franchise. In fact, I was so moved by the dedication shown by all of our constituents – new and returning – that last week I sent out a special thank you letter to remind all of our clients how much I appreciate their continued faith in this organization, and also to promise them an unforgettable year of NHL hockey that will, hopefully, see us attain the goals we have set.
That said, for fans interested in seeing the “future” of Panthers hockey – before our current team opens camp on Sept. 12 – many of our rookies will be in town starting this weekend for fitness testing and regular skates at incredible ICE. As assistant GM Randy Sexton and coach Pete DeBoer will tell you, there is a lot of exciting young talent that we will have to look forward to in the years to come.
But now is the time to focus on the present from a business perspective. We still have a lot of work to do before everything is ready for Opening Night. Tonight I’ll be taking some of our corporate partners on a tour of the new training facility at incredible ICE. I’m also working with our VP of Event Programming Sid Greenfeig to continue the progress we made last week in Los Angeles and bring some incredible new concerts and shows to the BankAtlantic Center. We are also still working toward selling out the Panthers Foundation Face-Off Luncheon at Signature Grand – only a few seats remain (call 954-835-7332 for tickets). Also, I’m told by our game presentation department that they are planning a brand new “show” as part of our innovative in-game entertainment.
Lots to do and only 39 days to go. But then again, you probably already know that. Thanks for reading and go Panthers.