I have been doing a lot of thinking about the current business health of the Columbus Blue Jackets and I have some ideas for a new business plan. I’m not sure if the team ever revived the old business plan that Doug MacLean wrote, a plan that was loaded with tactics but very short on delivery. It kind of reminds me of my former employer, a company that shall remain nameless because of the court order that have on me.
Anyway, this plan sounds a little drastic because it is. And I’m not going to hold back.
First, the organization needs to be merged into the OSU Athletic Department. Is there a better run sports organization in the country, in terms of revenue? OSU is second to none when it comes to licensing anything with the letter O in it. OSU helped found the Big Ten Network, which forced it’s way onto the nation’s cable providers, offering no value whatsoever, but becoming a revenue producer anyway. OSU’s teams go first-class in any sport they field a team for, regardless of their importance or popularity.
So with the merger or acquistion complete, somebody has to go, right? Pay Scott Howson a few million to be a consultant reporting to Gene Smith, the new CEO of the team. Ken Hitchcock would of course be given a generous severance package to go away while the team conducts a nationwide search before hiring Jim Tressel’s brother to take over. Think of Barry Melrose at Tampa, but without the baggage.
Next, the colors would have to change to Scarlet and Grey, but this would create tremendous profit and revenue gains with the sales from new merchandise. Sure, the old Blue Jacket fans would scream about this, but we all know that for every Jacket fan, there are ten Buckeye fans. Need I say more? At least they would keep the name, Blue Jackets, although they would no longer wear blue.
The next part of the plan is little tricky, but it will pay off. First off, the schedule has to be changed. Overhauled is probably a better term. The Buckeyes Jackets would now play only weaker teams for the first half of the season. Yes, this might be difficult considering the competence of the team, but you just know that OSU would get the NHL to permit games with Youngstown and other ECHL teams, like Toledo and Dayton. All of these games would be in Columbus, of course, and televised. Think about the excitement of January rolling around and the Jackets are undefeated!
Next, the NHL rules would have to be changed for a new, unbalanced schedule. The Blue Jackets would now play Western Conference teams only three times a year, with two of the games in Columbus. And these games would have to be scheduled in the latter half of the season. Again, picture your February calendar and your team has just a couple of losses, if any. But that is nothing compared to the big change that the new management would propose.
The Jackets would now play Detroit only once a season and it would be the final game of the regular season. To be fair, it would alternate every other year in Ann Arbor and Columbus, but now it would be played outdoors. And you know which two stadiums would host this game. This game, the most hyped and marketed game of the season, would be played before 100,000 fans each year and to millions on TV. It would still have a noon start to accomodate the bars and restaurants. It might be difficult to make ice in March or April, but the teams would find a way to do this with the millions of dollars they would make each year on this single game.
My new plan has several positives: Automatic home sell-outs, unbelievable merchandise sales, television revenue that is greater than FSN can produce because Paul Keels would call the games and not Jeff Rimer and Danny Gare, and Archie Griffith would make countless personal appearances on behalf of the team. Nationwide would have to do something to make room for all the tailgators, but with the increased revenue from legal alcohol sales, they would find a way. Every night, you would turn on the local news and see the increase in coverage. Mindy Drayer would be brought back full-time on Channel 4! The Dispatch would now run stories on the front page.
This plan is a winner. It is such a success that I don’t even need to think about post-season.