Bill Foley believes that Kerry Bubolz has the right type of non-traditional market hockey experience to lead the Las Vegas NHL team as its first president.
Bubolz had worked with the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes (in sales for both organizations) in the past and this was attractive to Foley as the Las Vegas owner looked to make this hire. Bubolz’s most recent team was the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was the president of business operations. Last season the Cavs won the NBA championship. On Monday, Las Vegas announced they brought Bubolz on board. He had spent the last 13 seasons with the Cavaliers.
“He was with the Stars when they were a startup, when they moved down from Minnesota. He was with Carolina, which is a non-traditional hockey market, so he gets that. He has been with the Cavaliers and this is the first world championship Cleveland has won in a lot of years, so that has been a tough go for them up there. He’s had to deal with a tough economic environment. He dealt with a very strong owner in Dan Gilbert, who is very focused and wants to win. That’s something I’m interested in doing, so he’s a very important hire,” Foley said in a phone interview with Puck Daddy. “He doesn’t know Las Vegas but he does know small markets and he knows markets that are not the major franchise markets like New York or LA or Chicago. He has been in the kind of secondary markets and been successful.”
Bubolz also served as president and alternate governor for all franchise property teams owned by the Cavaliers Operating Company, including the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. Last season the Monsters won the Calder Cup. They finished third in league average attendance with 8,596 fans per-game last season. He had also been a part of the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the IHL.
“He has been around hockey a lot. He understands hockey. He likes hockey players and he just has a terrific background for what I’m looking for,” Foley said. “That’s kind of the rundown on him.”
In 2010, Bubolz was interviewed by Crain’s in Cleveland to talk about marketing the Monsters and mentioned how the organization was able to use the Cavaliers brand to help with tickets.
We are also in a good position to be able to introduce our hockey product because of the brand equity that we’ve built up with the Cavaliers. So when you come to Cavs games here at The Q, you can see and learn about the Monsters. When you watch Cavs games on TV or listen on the radio, there’s a lot of cross-promotion that takes place between the two franchises, so it’s an important and valuable way to introduce the product.
He also discussed how to give families the best bang for their buck at a hockey game.
I think another big part of it is you still have to have a good value when people come to the game. We believe a Monsters game is a great value, heavily targeted towards families, which is evident through promotions like our dollar hot dog and soda nights, our free postgame open skates, our tickets starting at only $10, and so on.
Foley said that the Las Vegas franchise went through a “detailed recruiting process” where they retained Turnkey Search to help them find the right fit. They had a list of 50 people that was reduced to 12 and then went down to six finalists. Las Vegas has gotten most of its hockey operations staff wrapped up and now will focus more on the business side of the team with Bubolz leading the way.
“Ultimately I liked Kerry. I felt like his personality was a great fit for (general manager) George (McPhee) and myself,” Foley said. “We’re going to have to work together as a team – the three of us and I felt like he really got it in terms of – and the other guys did too. But Kerry had kind of been through it with the Cavs. I liked the fact that he had been with the Cavs when they had LeBron and then LeBron left and they had to survive that period maybe have a tougher ticketing and sponsorship environment and then they got LeBron back and just won a championship.”
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