Cogen and Henry Team Up to Run Nashville Properties

16 Aug

David Poile, GM and Predators president of Hockey Operations welcomes new President and COO Sean Henry and new CEO Jeff Cogen. Also pictured is Tom Cigarran, Predators chairman.

It is a package deal – Jeff Cogen and Sean Henry, announced as the new CEO and president/COO of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League and the Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 10.

“Sean will run the building as president and COO of the building and team; we haven’t exactly decided how we will divide and conquer, but clearly he’ll have the building. He’s done a tremendous job with the St. Pete Times Forum, [Tampa, Fla.] so he will focus on programming, customer service and merch and concessions at the building and I will focus on marketing and sponsorship and ticket sales,” Cogen toldVenues Today. “We’re going to approach this as a team. That’s what we talked about over a 24-hour term.”

Though it wasn’t technically a package deal, they did literally walk in the door together. “As Sean said, he’s glad they decided to hire two and, as I said, I was glad it wasn’t two for the price of one,” Cogen said.

Both have a long history in the business of sports and entertainment. Cogen’s began as a promoter for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and he was based in Nashville. He credits that experience with teaching him 95 percent of what he knows about marketing and promotions. “Allen Bloom, Mike Franks and Irving and Kenneth Feld made me who I am today,” Cogen said. “I’m not doing kids-in-the-show promotions, I’m doing register-to-win-a-road-trip-with-the-team, but pretty much the promotional elements remain the same. The biggest change is technology. We’ve adapted from traditional media to technological initiatives, but generally speaking the roots of my training and present day execution are certainly with Ringling Brothers.”

He took the circus to Detroit and Mike Illitch and Jim Lites hired him to be the marketing guy for the Detroit Red Wings and Joe Louis Arena, from 1986 to 1993. From 1993 to 2001, he worked with Lites to start the Dallas Stars National Hockey League franchise. In the middle of that experience, owner Tom Hicks moved him to the Texas Rangers. From 2001-2003 he was COO of the Florida Panthers, where he worked with Henry. He came back to Dallas to the Stars in 2004 and was named president in 2007.

Asked how much impact the pending sale of the Stars had on his decision to move to Nashville, Cogen said that it was minimal. The decision was based on the fact that CEO is a promotion from president; Nashville is a town he loves and one he wants his family to grow in; it’s nine hours from his hometown of Newport News, Va.; and he believes he can have an impact on sports and entertainment in Tennessee.

Brad Mayne, CEO of Center Operating Company, which operates American Airlines Center, Dallas, home to the Dallas Stars, said of Cogen: “We hate to see him go. He’s good at generating great revenues. Jeff is always innovative. When he put his strategies together, instead of selling the best game and then the rest, he’d sell all the rest, knowing the best games would sell out. The easy inventory takes care of itself.”

Cogen is also innovative in bundle programs, helping introduce food and beverage on regular season tickets for the Stars last year and looking at the possibility of paperless tickets this season, which is a convenience for the fan and a way to mine the data on individual buying habits, Mayne said.

Cogen describes himself as a data-centric salesperson. “I don’t believe that you advertise and sell season tickets. I believe salespeople provide that service and the success of a salesperson is getting quality leads and quality leads comes from creating quality data. We will have initiatives to get names and e-mails that are or could be Predators fans and we’ll make phone calls and face-to-face appointments and we’ll approach it one fan at a time. That’s my vision.”

The Predators averaged 14,200 fans per game last year. Cogen said his goal is 15,000 this season. “I’m optimistic. The combination of some of the initiatives I hope to place there, the data-centric approach, a quality base, a good team and a good schedule should get us there.” He had nothing but praise for the team in place, including Chris Parker, who is in charge of tickets and sponsorships and is “exceptional.”

Henry has been consulting CEO with the Tampa Bay Lightning of late, and had been COO of the team and arena since 1999. His expertise helped turn the St. Pete Times Forum into one of the busiest buildings in Florida.

Ed Lang, current president of the Nashville Predators, will be leaving the organization after a transition period. The arena is run by Powers Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nashville Predators, and there has not been a venue manager per se since Hugh Lombardi moved to Boston to be general manager of TD Garden in January.

The Predators 2010/2011 season kicks off Oct. 9 against the Anaheim Ducks. Both new executives will be in Nashville in two weeks. Cogen is back in his Stars office today to interact with Hicks on a transition plan. Mayne said there are three bidders for the Stars and Hicks has said he expects the sale to be done before the regular season begins. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Jeff Cogen, (214) 387-5586; Brad Mayne, (214) 665-4220

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One Response to “Cogen and Henry Team Up to Run Nashville Properties”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tuesday’s news: Preds can’t shake the "underrated" tag | predatorsplayofftickets.com - August 17, 2010

    […] Cogen and Henry Team Up to Run Nashville Properties ” Venues TodayA nice background piece on the new men at the top of the Predators organization, particularly focusing on Jeff Cogen’s background with promoting Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus out of Nashville. […]

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