Monday
Jun142010

Bring The Chips And Ice: NHL, Marketers Rolling Back To Las Vegas To Party Again

June 14, 2010: According to the National Hockey League, whatever happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas, as long as everyone knows about it.

Following a season that saw increased numbers in its fan base, merchandise purchases, TV and online ratings and marketing activation, the NHL is planning a gala awards show in Las Vegas that, in keeping with its other stats, will see 15% more sponsorship participation than the awards ceremony in 2009.

The league is in the second year of a three-year deal with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to hold its awards ceremony in the city following several years of holding the event in Toronto. The 2010 NHL Awards are scheduled for June 23 at the Palms Hotel and Casino, to be shown on Versus in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. NHL.com will have live streaming of Hollywood-style red carpet arrival of players and celebrities.

NHL marketing partners and local companies that will activate prior to and at the event include Bridgestone, which just renewed its NHL deal for five years, including title sponsorship of the Winter Classic jewel event; Verizon, Visa, Geico, Labatt, XM Satellite Radio, Lays, Hershey’s, PokerStars and LVCVA. Similar to last season, the NHL and LVCVA joined for a "Vegas Getaway Contest " sending winning participants to the gala party on The Strip.

Among the performances and celebrities scheduled to appear at the Palms' Pearl Concert Theater are Snoop Dogg, Cirque du Soleil, cast members from Jersey Boys, rock group Shinedown and actor Mark Wahlberg.

Palms Hotel and Casino The NHL said it moved the ceremony to Las Vegas last year "in part to raise the profile of this yearly event, attract bigger stars and to cement it as pillar in our event calendar that serves as a call to action for hockey fans everywhere." (Complete list of awards and finalists is here.)

The event also is a payback to Las Vegas hockey fans and consumers, who helped place the city among the top ten highest-rated TV audiences during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, per the league.

The league's decision last year to relocate its awards ceremony to Las Vegas, best known for its gambling establishments, is also part of a trend among pro sports teams to align with a category that long has been considered prohibited. Last year, Nascar also moved its year-end awards ceremony to Las Vegas after holding the event in New York every year since 1981.

The NBA played its 2007 All-Star Game in Las Vegas, the United Football League held its inaugural title game their last year and the now defunct Arena Football League held its 2005 and 2006 ArenaBowl championship games there. The WNBA's Connecticut Sun is owned by the Mohegan Sun resort and casino, which will play host to the 2010 WNBA All-Star Game, and the league's New York Liberty recently signed a marketing deal with the Foxwoods Resort Casino, also in Connecticut, which includes jersey-front sponsorship.

According to a league spokesperson, "The NHL Awards has become a huge opportunity to engage our fans who are made up of the most desirable demographics in all of professional sports. And now, coming off of a Stanley Cup playoffs that broke records across all business platforms, the total consumption of NHL hockey is at an all time high."

"The NHL Awards has become a huge opportunity to engage our fans who are made up of the most desirable demographics in all of professional sports."

With the Stanley Cup now secure in the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, the NHL has crunched its numbers for the playoffs and come up with some stats that bode well for the present and future of the league. Among them:

• Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers gave NBC Sports its most-watched (8.28 million) and highest-rated NHL game (4.7) on U.S. television in 36 years.

 “This has been a special year for hockey beginning with the Winter Classic continuing through the Olympics and ending with this incredibly exciting Stanley Cup final. NBC Sports is honored to have been a part of it," NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer said in a statement regarding the Stanley Cup Finals and, in particular, Game 6 ratings. "The players of these two proud franchises in these major markets brought an intensity to the series that contributed to this record viewership.”

• Total in-venue sales for Stanley Cup Final were up 92% over last year’s Final and gained 129% over the first six games of the 2009 Final.

• Total sales for the entire 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs were up 22%.

Shop.NHL.com recorded its best single day sales total on June 10, surpassing the previous single day record (Holiday 2009 Cyber Monday) by 25% and also eclipsed the Pittsburgh Penguins (Stanley Cup winners in 2009) by over 50%.

With a year of success that literally started Jan. 1 2010 with Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park, followed by the Winter Olympics in Vancouver where the hockey gold medal game was won by Canada over the U.S. and that both teams' rosters by populated by NHL players, it is small wonder that the league has reason to celebrate.

 "By whatever method of measurement you want to use — be it ratings, revenues, page views, video starts, sponsor activations or simply the quality of play — the game, the players, the fans, our clubs and our partners teamed up to make 2009-10 a season to remember," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

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