by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Fresh off the monumental announcement last week that Washington will host the 2015 NHL Winter Classic, Caps/Wizards owner Ted Leonsis unveiled plans Tuesday to lean more on the Capitals fanbase for further insight into how they’d like to see the hockey organization grow.

For lack of a better term, Leonsis, responsible for much of AOL’s success in the 1990’s, is a marketing wizard.

His transparency with the fans as to the inter-workings of the franchise and its marketing strategies has long been seen as an asset, and in effect, can be attributed to much of the fanbase’s growth in the last eight years. That, and the marketability of Caps star Alex Ovechkin.

“Well I’m actually a little nervous that we’re asking too much of our fans,”Leonsis told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny at Kettler Iceplex. “Last week was, I thought, over the top.”

“We had preseason games, we had the Baltimore Classic, we had a fundraising game with the alumni, we had the convention,” he explained. “And so we’re going to do some market research and go ask the fans what do they like, what do they want us to double down on, what would they rather us not do. Certainly, we’re really pushing in social media. We want to make sure that the fans feel that they’re a part of it, and with the launch of Monumental Network, trying to get more and more video, and try to let the fans, you know not have the glass in front of them with the players.”

“So we’ll try to do more and more but I want to listen to the fans and see what they like,” Leonsis said of his intentions.

While this sample-the-fans practice is nothing new for Leonsis, it speaks to how he’s been able to cultivate such a fertile base around the Caps, which, despite six straight failed attempts to capture the cup, shows no signs of thinning.

Leonsis also spoke of the trust the NHL showed in the Capitals fanbase in allowing the city to host a Winter Classic.

“It was very nice for the league to show its confidence in us, and frankly, let us announce it at the Caps Convention,” Leonsis said. “It gives people lots of time to do their vacation planning and Christmas and New Year planning a couple years out, and it really I think is, as I’ve said is, a testament to the fanbase.”

“The reason we got it was because when we played Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, there were twenty, thirty-thousand Caps fans, and that really got their attention,” he said. “And you couple that with all the sellouts that we had, and the success the team has had, they said ‘Yea, Washington’s a hockey town’ and we can support a game here.”


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