NHL teams feel the force of Star Wars fervor

NHL teams feel the force of Star Wars fervor

Postautor: lucky » 15 gru 2017, o 10:20

A few days before the 2017-18 season began, Phil Kessel arrived at PPG Paints Arena to fulfill a few preseason obligations: filming PSAs, ticket reads and announcements for the Pittsburgh Penguins' foundation. One ask was a bit unconventional. Dressed in his jersey, Kessel stood in front of a green screen and stared into a camera. Instead of his Al MacInnis Youth jersey regular helmet, a Penguins staffer would virtually screen on a different one later -- of the black, angular Darth Vader variety. "The force is strong with the Penguins," the veteran winger said, with little inflection. "Join us and fight the dark side when we battle the Islanders on our special Star Wars theme night. Buy tickets, you must."
Welcome to one of hottest trends in NHL arenas. Twelve teams will host Star Wars-themed Sean Couturier Jersey nights this season, a practice that began surfacing over the past decade -- before the most recent sequel trilogy. The Tampa Bay Lightning held their first Star Wars night seven years ago, and by the time "The Force Awakens" opened in 2015, nine other teams had joined in. The trend has picked up significantly since then. As the reignited cult obsession sweeps the world, of course NHL teams are trying to latch on.
"When you host these nights, you get folks who are just Star Wars fans," said Aaron Teats, the Anaheim Ducks' chief marketing operator. "Maybe they wouldn't have necessarily seen the Ducks play the Carolina Hurricanes. But these Star Wars fans -- and there's a lot of them -- when they see something like this done on such a large scale, they want to be part of it."
A Star Wars theme night involves a few staples. Usually the team hires a cast of "characters" in Star Wars costume to roam the concourse (fans are invited to dress up, too). The San Jose Sharks had about 75 such characters at their Star Wars night on Nov. 4; the Arizona Coyotes boasted 100 on Nov. 25. Then there's a slick promotional poster, which has become something of an arms race among marketing departments. A few years ago, the Sharks photoshopped Brent Burns http://www.authentichurricanestore.com/eric-staal-jersey_c-449.html and his fuzzy beard into a Wookie body. ("We are a fan-facing organization," said Casey Lapenen, the Sharks' director of marketing and fan development. "And we never take ourselves too seriously.")
The Florida Panthers wooed everyone last season when they swapped hockey sticks for light sabers (it's better if you don't get too technical; assume the rods aren't burning through Vincent Trocheck's Bauer gloves). These things involve significant planning and prep work. Stephen Gerhard, the Panthers' senior director of group sales and development, said the team photographer dedicated an entire day to capturing players' faces at the right angles so they would fit into the poster's design.
Teams buy licensed packages so they can incorporate sound effects -- such as the roaring swish of pod racers -- and Star Wars-branded infographics for the jumbotron.
Although an object alone cannot make you good or evil, there are typically sweet giveaways for the fans who attend the game: the Coyotes offered Paul Bissonette Obiz-Wan Kenobi bobbleheads this year, while Dale Hawerchuk Jersey the Panthers handed out Star Wars mesh jerseys.
Each night offers a signature flare. Lightning winger J.T. Brown arrived to the arena in a white suit patterned with Star Wars logos; the New Jersey Devils had a Darth Vader lurk on the Zamboni; the Penguins shot a promotional video with Anthony Daniels, the actor who plays C-3PO. (Pittsburgh's senior director of information technology happened to sit on a panel with Daniels at Carnegie Mellon, and extended the invitation personally.)
We're trying to get our fans off their butts," said the Sharks' Lapenen, "and have them come to a couple more games a year." Gerhard said that the Panthers "intentionally try to find an opponent that wouldn't be a big draw." (Last year's Star Wars night in Florida fell on a Tuesday against the Atlantic Division cellar-dwelling Buffalo Sabres.)
Theme nights used to be the exclusive province of Major League Baseball teams, which endure a grueling 162-game schedule and battle a host of summer distractions, and minor-league teams, which often rely on kitsch to attract http://www.falconsfootballofficialonline.com/Mohamed-Sanu-Jersey.html an audience to events with largely anonymous players. Over the past decade, NBA and NHL teams have gotten in on the action. Remember the Atlanta Hawks' Swipe Right night? Or how about the Toronto Raptors' evening honoring all things http://www.seahawksfootballauthentic.com/BRADLEY-MCDOUGALD-JERSEY-CHEAP.html Drake? Trends come and go -- while Blankenship says Tampa Bay's Pokemon Go night last season was a huge success, it didn't make the calendar in 2017-18 -- but Star Wars has staying power.
"With the renewed popularity of Star Wars over the last three or four years, it's opened it up to an entire new audience," said the Panthers' Gerhard."I remember, as a child, seeing the very first 'Star Wars,' lining up around the movie theater to get there," Teats said. "What I find amazing is that this spans generational borders. It's one of those things that fathers and sons and daughters and mothers feel Jonathan Stewart Youth jersey good about. It's a sense of relevancy for everyone."

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