JOHN F. McDONOUGH
PRESIDENT & CEO
John F. McDonough joined the Blackhawks in 2007 as President and was named President and Chief Executive Officer on June 1, 2011. Under his guidance, in what Forbes Magazine has called the “The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever,” the Blackhawks have revitalized the team’s profile and re-energized its fan base. Since McDonough joined the Blackhawks, the team has won Stanley Cup titles in 2010 and 2013, becoming the first organization in the NHL’s salary cap era to capture two championships.
With McDonough’s leadership, the Blackhawks have become one of professional sports’ biggest success stories. The Blackhawks have entertained 280 consecutive capacity crowds at the United Center and have grown a season ticketholder base from 3,400 to more than 14,000. In addition, the Blackhawks have led the NHL in attendance for six consecutive seasons. The Blackhawks’ success was recognized by SportsBusiness Journal in 2009 and 2014, when the team earned coveted nominations for the publication’s Professional Sports Team of the Year, in addition to being named The Hockey News’ choice for “Best Franchise” in their 2014 “Franchise Ranking” issue.
McDonough was instrumental in bringing the NHL Winter Classic to Chicago in 2009, a contest that matched up the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings in front of 40,818 fans at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009. The game drew an 11.8 overnight rating, a 21 share on NBC in Chicago and over 4.4 million U.S. viewers overall, making it the most-watched NHL game in 34 years at the time, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Shortly after his arrival, the club welcomed back Blackhawks legends and Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito and Denis Savard as official team ambassadors and instituted the annual Blackhawks Convention, the first of its kind in the National Hockey League. In addition, in a landmark partnership with Comcast SportsNet and WGN-TV Channel 9, the Blackhawks announced that all 82 regular-season games would be televised for the first time in franchise history in 2008-09. That year, the Blackhawks also announced an exciting new radio partnership with WGN Radio AM-720.
Prior to joining the Blackhawks, McDonough served as President of the Chicago Cubs. During his tenure, the Cubs won the 2007 National League Central Division while setting an all-time franchise attendance record. As the Cubs’ chief, and in his previous role as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Broadcasting, he was widely viewed as a sports marketing and management innovator who played a major role in increasing the Cubs’ fan base and attracting sponsorships for one of the most successful professional sports franchises in America.
During his 24 years with the Cubs organization, the club consistently reached record attendance and revenue figures. In addition, McDonough was the architect of the seventh-inning stretch celebrity “guest conductor” concept at Wrigley Field and created the annual Cubs Convention, which is now viewed as a prototype for team and league fan festivals.
With McDonough’s many achievements have come several honors and awards, including Major League Baseball’s Marketing Excellence Award, Chicago Baseball Executive of the Year and a place in “America’s Top Ten Marketing Executives” by Promo Magazine. In addition, McDonough was named to The Hockey News’ “100 People of Power and Influence,” and was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
He has also been recognized with the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota Presidential Medal for Outstanding Merit, the Bill Veeck Lifetime Achievement Award, a place in the Notre Dame High School Hall of Fame and the 2008 Executive of the Year Award by the Chicago chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. McDonough serves as a frequent guest speaker and panelist across the country, including at the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and the 2014 SXSW Conference. He has also served as commencement speaker for the Loyola University School of Communication, and was the Grand Marshal for Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2014.
McDonough is a frequent lecturer at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and Northwestern University. He serves as a Sustaining Board Member for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Illinois Board, and also sits on the Athletic Advisory Board of St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., the Special Olympics Illinois Foundation Board, Chicago Blackhawks Charities Board of Directors, the NHL Club Business Advisory Board and the NHL Board of Governors.
A Chicago native, McDonough is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Niles, Ill., and St. Mary’s University. He currently resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife, Karen. They have three children: Colleen, Ryan (Katie) and Michael.