JOHN F. McDONOUGH
PRESIDENT & CEO
John F. McDonough was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Blackhawks on June 1, 2011, after joining the organization as President on Nov. 20, 2007. 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. On June 9, 2010, the Blackhawks achieved their “One Goal” of a Stanley Cup championship, the team’s first title since 1961.
With McDonough’s leadership, the Blackhawks have become one of professional sports’ biggest success stories. To date, the Blackhawks have entertained 226 consecutive capacity crowds at the United Center and have grown a season ticketholder base from 3,400 to more than 14,000. The Blackhawks have led the NHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons, averaging more than 21,533 fans per game in 2011-12. For the first time in franchise history, the Blackhawks welcomed over 1 million fans to the United Center during a single season in 2008-09 (1,052,261), while establishing an NHL club record by attracting a league-leading average of 21,783 to their 40 home dates at the United Center. The Blackhawks’ success was recognized by SportsBusiness Journal in 2009, when the team earned a coveted nomination for the publication’s Professional Sports Team of the Year. In 2012, a survey of SportsBusiness Journal readers voted the Blackhawks the NHL team for which they'd most like to work.
McDonough was also 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 almost 34 years at that 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, the Chicago Baseball Veterans Committee Man of the Year, 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,” as well as being named to the Chicago Tribune’s “10 Most Powerful Sports Figures” in 2010.
He has also been recognized with the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota Presidential Medal for Outstanding Merit, the Bill Veeck Lifetime Achievement Award, the USO of Illinois Salute to Leadership 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 served as a guest speaker at the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, was named to the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and served as commencement speaker for the Loyola University School of Communication.
McDonough serves as a frequent lecturer at Northwestern University and sits on the Faculty Advisory Board for its Master of Arts in Sports Administration Program. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, 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 in Winona, Minn. He currently resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife, Karen. They have three children: Colleen, Ryan (Katie) and Michael.