With everything that’s been going on with the Aeros the past several weeks, we’ve been trying to take some time to talk to various people associated with the team. Since I’ve built up some relationships with the people on the business side, that’s who I’ve been talking to. They can’t give a lot of information on what’s happening hockey wise, but I thought you might like some information on what they want to do for the game experience once the season starts.
So here’s some information that I got from Jamie Spencer who is the Aeros Vice President of Business Operations.
Let’s start with one of the biggest complaints: the lack of replays on weeknight games. Spencer says the team would like very much to have replays for every game, and that he will be meeting with the people who run Toyota Center in a few weeks to discuss several matters for this season, including replays.
“I remember that from my first game. I looked up and there were no replays,” Spencer said. “But like everything else, we’re trying to run a solid business, and everything cost money so we’re trying to assess where we spend our dollars.”
Another issue that’s being assessed is if, and the number of, games that will be shown on television this season. “We’d love to have every game on TV if we could,” he said. “What we need to do there is do a better of job of sponsorship in order to move the needle and get some TV games and some exposure….that’s something we’re assessing right now, to decide if it’s worth it and how many games that would mean, because exposure is something that we’re really working on.”
Spencer loves the fans in Houston and thinks that the team has a great core for a fan base: “I see some very passionate fans in Houston that remind me of the season ticket holders here in Minnesota,” he said. But he wants to expand this fan base and they are exploring ways to make this happen.
The team wants to focus on improving the fan experience this season, and once the schedule is released, they’re going to get down to figuring out all of the promotions for the season. Returning promotions will probably include Chilipalooza, Guns-and-Hoses, Military Night, and so on. And Bikini Night will definitely be back.
“I know the Bikini Contest has become a fan favorite,” Spencer said. “The thing in Houston is we want to keep an affordable family atmosphere, we also want to have some fun with it, too. The weekends and weeknights are different there, as you’ve seen. We really try to put a good mix of promotions together that appeal to a wide audience.”
The team is also looking at adding Ice Girls to the mix to go with the Aero Dynamics. But he’s not sure if the Ice Girls would come from within the Dynamics, or be a different squad.
Spencer is aware that there are fans here in Houston who are upset about some of the changes that have occurred with the team’s roster and staff. And while he’s not on hockey side of the operation, he did have some comments.
“The big thing [with the Aeros] is that we’re trying to develop players that can move up to the Minnesota team,” he said. “The players that have moved up here, many have contributed. It seems like each year we get guys who become everyday NHL players. Development is a huge part of that.”
“It’s really hard for me to answer this because I don’t make the roster decisions,” he continued. “The only thing I can say is that we are continuing to want to win in Houston.…we made offers to everybody we could. Some of these guys after having successful seasons, they get more money going other places or are more marketable now….It’s not that we didn’t want to sign them, it’s that they’re getting more money to go to other places.”
And Chuck Fletcher and Jim Mill “want to make sure that [Wild coach] Todd Richards is comfortable with anybody we sign. If needed, and someone gets called up, that Todd would be comfortable putting them in the system. And when you change your system, you probably change rosters more than normal.”
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fresh look. Some fans might get nervous about that, and other fans get excited -- and I hope that they’re getting excited because there’s been a lot of change. Specifically on the hockey side of our business. And that isn’t a bad thing….so I think this new group is going to bring a different look and a different feel, and it make some time for the fans to understand what that means.”