Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hockey Mom Previews Capitals Convention

Hockey Mom Chats with Capitals’ Chief Marketing Officer, Tim McDermott, about the First-Ever Capitals Convention

Now that Development Camp is over, it seems like a long road until the end of summer when Caps fans can catch hockey fever all over again. Well, now the road just got a little shorter with the announcement of the total Caps experience - the Capitals Convention on September 26! This is going to be an event like no other Caps fans have ever seen and Hockey Mom recently had a chance to get some fun details on the Capitals Convention from the team's Chief Marketing Officer, Tim McDermott:

You’ve said that the Capitals Convention may use some elements from the Chicago Blackhawks convention, which staged this past weekend (and included cameos from Hawks players Kris Versteeg, Christobal Huet and others entertaining the masses with some keep-your-day-jobs karaoke tunes)! What are some of the unique components that fans will experience during the Caps Convention?

One of the biggest differences is the venue itself. The Gaylord National Resort and Conventions Center venue is so impressive that it will give the event planners a lot of leeway and creativity in staging the event.

We have over 100,000 square feet of space which includes 2 grand ballrooms and at least 3 individual breakout rooms.

We actually had two of our staff members attend last weekend’s Blackhawk Convention so they will be making a full presentation for our planning purposes.

The Caps Convention is going to be a huge undertaking that requires almost 100,000 square feet of floor space to accommodate everything. How far in advance did you start the planning process?

We sent a team out to the Chicago Blackhawks Convention last year after we’d heard so many great things about it. After they returned from Chicago, we knew that this was something unique that we could offer our fans and use to build even more excitement about the Capitals and continue to build awareness for the organization.

So the Caps Convention has been in the planning stages for more than a year now.

The sheer size and multiple activities taking place at the Convention will make it an “all hands on deck” event. All of our players will be there, along with the ownership, management, front office staff, the trainers, alumni, scouts and the equipment managers, all of who will be ensuring that this is a one-of-a-kind experience for Capitals fans of all ages.

I am looking forward to the panel discussions, especially the Covering the Caps, Ask the Coaches, Kids-Only Press Conference and Caps on the Rise sessions. Can you elaborate more on these panels and talk about other panels that may be in the works?

There will definitely be more added and we’ll be polling the fans for their input on what additional panels they’d be interested in. (Hockey Mom note: Caps fans, be sure to place your vote on Washingtoncaps.com in the coming weeks!)

Covering the Caps will incorporate bloggers and local media. The panelists will share their unique perspective on covering the team including what they think makes for a good story, how they get their information, etc. This is will definitely give fans some insight on what it’s like behind-the-scenes for those who report on the Capitals.

Kids-Only Press Conference will be for fans ages 14 and under (and their parents of course) and gives the kids an opportunity to ask the questions they’ve always wondered about – there are sure to be some interesting questions in this session!

Just like a regular convention, the breakout panels will be concurrent so you can pick which ones you want to attend. Space will be limited so decide early which sessions you’d like to sit in on. Of course, there will be a program that will help you plan your own Capitals Convention itinerary.

This is such a great way to celebrate Caps Hockey (and judging from the SRO crowd at Development Camp on Saturday, there’s no question in my mind that D.C. is a hockey town)! How many tickets have you sold to date and what do you think fans will be buzzing about the most after leaving the Convention?

We have sold 3,200 tickets to date and we anticipate selling between 4,500 and 5,000 total. We want to make sure we do this right and the event is of the highest level of quality, so we didn’t want it to get too large the first year. We are on pace to sell out but want to make sure it is done on a first-class level. Based on attendance, we may entertain making the event a multi-day event next year. Our expectations have been exceeded regarding fan excitement!

Panel discussions will probably be the thing the fans remember the most – giving fans a real inside look into the workings of NHL franchise and the daily life of players, coaches and management. For example, “Capologist” Don Fishman will give a detailed presentation on how the salary cap really works. Another fascinating topic will be hearing from the scouts on what they look for in an NHL prospect. And of course, we’ll hear from Ted Leonsis, George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau. It will be a total Caps-immersive event!

We feel that the September 26 date was a great time to kick off the season and get the media buzzing and fans excited. Our season tends to peak in terms of awareness in January and we feel that the convention will help create awareness for the season even earlier. We feel that there’s no better time than now to keep building on the passion of our fan base!

This is sure to be a fun event for all ages but I think the kids especially are going to have a blast with the four full-oval rinks, two half-oval rinks and the games area. What kinds of activities will be taking place here?

Players and/or alumni will be doing demonstrations and skills clinics on these rinks which will be a lot of fun, especially for the kids.

I know that you’ve sold out of all the Golden Tickets, which grant the ticket-holders special VIP session seating and guaranteed autographs from all the players via a “fast-pass” autograph line. How many of these were available and how quickly did they go?

The 100 Golden Tickets went on sale on a Thursday and were sold out by Sunday!

It should also be noted that the team won’t be making money off of this event. The Capitals Conventions is seen as an investment in the fan base, the D.C. community and the sport of hockey. We’ve hired the professional production company (Hat Trick Productions) that produces the Chicago Blackhawk’s Convention to stage the Capitals Convention and are confident that they will stage a world-class event for our fans!

No other sports team in D.C. has done a fan-fest or any other event of this magnitude so we are especially excited to be able to present this innovative convention for our fan base.

Of course I have to ask you about Club Scarlet! Are there any activities planned during the Convention for Club Scarlet members and can you give us a preview what’s in store for Scarlet members next season?

The Convention will mark the first time that Club Scarlet merchandise will be available to members We are also working on other ideas on how to incorporate Club Scarlet into the Convention, be it a panel discussion or some other format.

For next season, we’ll definitely be doing the Hockey & Heels again and may add a Hockey & Heels 201 for female fans who’ve previously attended Hockey & Heels. We definitely have lots of events in the works for next season so stay tuned. Ideally, we’d like to have a Club Scarlet event each month.

So a big Hockey Mom high-five to Tim McDermott for giving us some inside scoop on the inaugural Capitals Convention! Now we’re a little more than a month away from one of biggest (and sure to be the coolest) Capitals fan events ever. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to get your tickets today as they are going fast – Caps-crazy fun for the whole family guaranteed!

1 comment:

Karen said...

Awesome interview. Thanks for expanding on what the Capitals Convention is going to be!