Hopscotch | July 14th, 2016 | Visit the original article online
Fans of the Alaska Aces, a minor league hockey team based in Anchorage, support their players by ringing mini cowbells during games. They’ve had a lot to ring about since the team joined the ECHL in 2003. The Aces have won the ECHL championship series three times, most recently in 2014. More cowbell!
Proud history aside, the team faces some unique business challenges. First, its remote location. The Aces have by far the largest travel budget in the league. Its nearest ECHL rival is in Idaho, more than 2,700 miles away. “Just one of our trips outside the state can be as much as another team’s travel budget for the year,” says Anna Bosco, the Aces’ director of ticketing and merchandise.
And Alaska’s oil and gas industry, which makes up one-third of the state’s economy, is in a downturn. “There have been massive layoffs,” says Bosco. “From a marketing standpoint, we’re rebranding ourselves as affordable family entertainment and offering ticket packages that make it more reasonable for families to come to games.”
Finally, the Aces went into a rare slump last season, failing to make the playoffs for the first time since joining the ECHL. “Going from a winning tradition to a drop-off like that added to our marketing struggles,” says Bosco.