Amerks Also Mean 'Business' Off The IceNovember 18, 2009 - American Hockey League (AHL) Rochester Americans
"We are a liaison between the team, business community and the region to make sure the message gets out that this is a new time and it's time that the community and businesses come back to the Amerks and make them what they used to be and rightly should be... along with the Knighthawks for that matter," said Zweigle's Sales Manager James Vacanti.
Vacanti is the man entrusted with the success of the 14-person committee, which consists of executives from businesses such as Xerox, Entercom, Castle Products, Heineken USA and Allstate, just to name a few.
Vacanti has displayed his support of the Amerks and Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League through Zweigle's and has been a passionate fan for 54 years. He was there on October 14, 1956 when Rochester hosted the Cleveland Barons at the War Memorial in its first AHL game. Vacanti was also in the stands when the Knighthawks opened their inaugural season in 1995. Now, he serves as both the "captain" and chairperson of the business team that will help restore the proud tradition of support for the second oldest franchise in the AHL.
"We need to get out into the community and let people know that this is a new organization and a first-class organization from the ownership to the front office staff to the players on the ice. This is not the old organization. This is a new era," he said. "These people have committed themselves to making it a premier franchise again. That is their intent, and all of us on the Committee are on board to help them make it happen."
The first committee meeting was prior to the Amerks' record-tying 11thstraight victory on November 10 th over the Hamilton Bulldogs. In attendance for the historic meeting were Amerks Owner and CEO Curt Styres, President Lewis Staats, Vice President of Hockey Operations Ted Nolan and Senior VP of Sales and Marketing Kerry Atkinson.
At the first gathering, the key players got acquainted and discussed the reason the committee was founded.
"One of the reasons it was formed because for whatever reason the organization has taken a hit as to its credibility," said Vacanti. "One of the purposes of this committee is to reinforce with the business community that this organization is worthy of backing."
"We appreciate the efforts of Jim Vacanti in getting this initiative off the ground," said Amerks' President Lewis Staats. "The ownership will continue to do what needs to be done to keep the Amerks (and Knighthawks) competitive and focused on winning championships moving forward. Our dedicated staff members will make sure that we provide our fans the best experience we can in all areas we control. And now with the support of Jim and the other committee members we (as corporate business partners) can reach out to the city of Rochester to come back to Blue Cross Arena and support two cornerstone sports franchises in both the AHL and NLL and make our games the place to be."
The Amerks have raced to the top of the North Division with a 13-2-1-0 record and tied their single-season franchise record with an 11-game winning streak. Owner Curt Styres brought in right wing Graham Mink, left wing Mike York, defenseman Clay Wilson, and centers Jeff Taffe, Jamie Johnson and Chris Taylor to help the Amerks contend for the Calder Cup this season, a promise Styres made when he took over the team on June 19, 2008. That speaks volumes to Vacanti to the character of Styres.
"He is a very unassuming man and you can just tell from talking to him that he is honest and forthright," he said. "I have complete trust in him to make this thing work. I think that anyone that meets him will come away with the same feeling. You can tell by some of the things that he has done that he is an honorable man. And along with that honor, he has a tremendous passion and desire to win."
With the players in place, Vacanti and the Amerks Business Advisory Committee can focus on assisting the organization with recruiting new season ticket holders and sponsors to support one of the best teams in the AHL.
"The goals are to sell more season tickets, to get more corporate sponsorships, to get the community at large to understand what a fine organization this is, and to mend some of the fences," said Vacanti. "We will have business mixers and bring business people together to see what this organization is all about. Each one of the committee members will invite their contacts and associates to a game, see the great product on the ice and witness the good work that the organization is conducting in hopes that new customers will come aboard by purchasing season tickets or get involved with the teams in some way."
Vacanti said that the group will reassemble this week to discuss its plans for the 2009-10 season. Each member will present their ideas on how to get more people involved and the committee will then formulate a plan.
"In past years this was one of the shining franchises in the American Hockey League and one of the jewels of the community," said Vacanti. "For it to have fallen from grace is a shame and has to be reversed. We feel that our Committee will do just that."
Meet the Group:
James Vacanti, Sales Manager, Zweigles
Members at Large:
Hans Blatter, President, Castle Products
Bob White, President, Allstate Bob White Agency
Randy Scroger, Regional Manager, Heineken USA
Charles Alexander, Vice-President, U.S. Solutions Group, Xerox
Cory Constantino, National Sales Manager, ParTech
Richard Krause, Project Manager, High Tech Rochester
Richard Scovner, Regional Sales Manager, Tenneco Automotive
David Cacciatore, Regional Manager, CIBA Vision
Jerry Grundman, President, Connecting Rochester
Nancy Mule', Account Marketing Manager, Entercom
Bryan Meyers, Rochester Homepage
Jeff Olek, Account Manager, Entercom
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