Human Resources and Sports Business

Grand Rapids Griffins front office nets AHL awards

July 23, 2013
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Grand Rapids Griffins front office nets AHL awards
The Grand Rapids Griffins Star Wars game night benefits its Youth Foundation. Photo via fb.com

The Calder Cup was certainly the most prominent American Hockey League award the Grand Rapids Griffins captured this past season — but it wasn’t the franchise’s only one.

The AHL honored the club’s front office this month with a handful of awards for community service, ticket sales and social media.

Community relations

The league gave the Griffins community relations staff its Community Service Award for Excellence in the Western Conference, which includes 14 other community relations departments.

It’s the second time in the past five years the staff has been so honored for its involvement with the local community.

Just a few of the many programs that brought the staff its recognition was Put a Lid on It, Growing with the Griffins and Griff’s Reading Goals, all aimed at the region’s young people.

Ticket sales

Two of the team’s season-ticket sales and customer service staffers also were honored.

Bill Hook ranked first in the conference in new full-season-equivalent sales, while Mike Myeno finished second in new FSE sales.

Group-ticket Sales Manager John Hoffa placed second in the conference, and Social Media Sales and Marketing Manager John VanderHaagen finished third in FSE sales.

Griffins Senior Vice President Tim Gortsema told the Business Journal in April the club reached the $1-million mark in group-ticket sales in its championship season, the first time that has happened in the club’s 17-year history.

“Tickets sales are up probably 7 percent, corporate sales are up 7 or 8 percent,” he said.

Gortsema called reaching the $1-million threshold in group sales a phenomenal achievement.

These current awards continue what has become an ongoing tradition for the franchise.

The team captured the league’s Ticket Sales Department of the Year Award in 2011 and picked up the top honor for most unique game-theme night with the “Purple Game” it held last year.

Fourth in attendance

Gortsema also said the team averaged more than 7,600 paying customers for each home game this past season to finish fourth in attendance league wide, which marked the sixth time in the past seven years the franchise had an increase.

The Griffins joined the AHL a dozen seasons ago, after competing in the old International Hockey League for its first five years.

The team begins its defense of the Calder Cup on home ice Oct. 18.

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