Blackhawks’ ticket sales booming, optimism soaring after snagging No. 1 draft pick

The Hawks sold $5.2 million worth of new season-ticket packages, including 1,200 full-season plans, in just 12 hours after winning the NHL Draft lottery Monday.

SHARE Blackhawks’ ticket sales booming, optimism soaring after snagging No. 1 draft pick
Blackhawks fans and players during a national anthem.

The Blackhawks have sold thousands of new ticket packages after winning the NHL draft lottery.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson wasn’t exaggerating when, mere minutes after his team won the NHL Draft lottery Monday, he said the No. 1 pick can change a franchise and a city.

One day later — still 50 days before that pick will be made, presumably to select phenom Connor Bedard — that change is already evident.

By Tuesday morning, 12 hours after the news broke, the Hawks had sold $5.2 million worth of new season-ticket packages, including 1,200 full-season packages.

Even with 20 sales representatives grinding away Monday night, the department proved unable to keep up with the tsunami of phone calls and online orders from a devoted fan base invigorated for the first time in years. Phones kept ringing; inboxes kept filling up.

The Hawks were already optimistic about attendance this past season and sales for next season, but that optimism was based on seriously lowered expectations from the dynasty era.

The Hawks were already optimistic about attendance this past season and sales for next season, but that optimism was based on seriously lowered expectations from the dynasty era.

Now, four Ping-Pong balls popping up in the right order at the NHL’s offices in New Jersey — the official winning combination, 4-5-9-13, just happened to be one of the 115 such combinations previously assigned to the Hawks — has blown those expectations out of the water.

The United Center likely will be full again for the majority of home games next season. And after a couple of years of heavily increased advertising for season-ticket memberships, the Hawks might have to consider capping memberships for this coming season to preserve some inventory for single-game ticket sales.

Beyond tickets, the side effects of winning the draft lottery will trickle into everything else business-related. There is a sense of renewed relevance and optimism around the Hawks that hasn’t existed in a while.

In the Blackhawks Store on Monday afternoon, the majority of jerseys on display were for players no longer on the team: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. That’s going to change very soon.

Indeed, the fortuitous timing of Bedard’s anticipated arrival coming mere months after those legends’ departures can’t be overlooked. Even prospect-development camp at Fifth Third Arena in July — which normally draws a few hundred fans — likely will be overflowing with Chicagoans seeking a first glimpse of the newest sports icon in town.

Sponsorships and corporate partnerships likely will expand significantly, as well, even if those take a little longer to fall into place. So will TV ratings and national visibility. With Bedard headlining the Hawks’ ‘‘new core’’ alongside Lukas Reichel, Kevin Korchinski, Frank Nazar, Alex Vlasic and others working their way up through the pipeline (or getting ready to be drafted), there’s suddenly quite a lot to promote.

Outside of Chicago, emotions are much different. Many fans rooting first for their team to win the lottery, then for the Hawks not to win it were disappointed. The contrast between the Hawks’ $5.2 million immediate profit and the $2 million fine levied against them by the NHL in 2021 for their handling of the sexual-assault scandal also has been widely panned.

But the aforementioned Ping-Pong balls are neither rigged nor karmic; the Hawks simply benefitted from some improbable luck.

Indeed, had Andreas Athanasiou not forced overtime late in the season finale against the Flyers or had Toews actually scored on his overtime breakaway minutes later, the Hawks would have finished 31st or 29th in the final standings and wouldn’t have won the lottery.

It turned out they needed that exact one point; the margins were that slim. And the shockwaves are this massive.

The Hawks most likely won’t be good next season, even if Davidson is more aggressive than previously planned this summer in an effort to assemble a competent forward lineup around Bedard. They will be interesting and full of hope, though, and that represents a big change from two days ago.

The Latest
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promised changes were coming this offseason, and the first domino fell on Thursday, sending the defensive standout in Caruso to the Thunder for a promising play-making guard in Giddey.
The 19-year-old was standing on the sidewalk around 6:15 p.m. in the 1700 block of West 46th Street when someone approached him and fired shots, Chicago police said.
Guttman, a 25-year-old forward who has bounced between the AHL and NHL the past two seasons, will carry a $775,000 salary-cap hit.
Chicago Police Board member Andreas Safakas ruled to allow a disciplinary hearing on the case “that provides due process to all parties.”