New owners can mean good things or they can mean bad things for any team, depending on what each owner sees as success. The St. Louis Blues lucked out when their team was sold back in 2012.
The St. Louis Blues have had their share of owners in a relatively short history of the team, compared to other franchises. Each one had their own idea of what success meant.
Some of them focused more on the bottom line, so if butts were in seats, they did not care as much about the on ice product. Others went overboard by spending as much as they could on the team, often throwing money at every problem, and the gas ran out before anything significant could happen.
However, when you look at the overall picture, Tom Stillman and his other local investors might be the best owners this franchise has had. They have the business smarts to try to make the most money while not being cheap with the actual team. They are not afraid to spend money on the team and in the arena either.
Since Stillman took over, the Blues have regularly spent toward the salary cap of the NHL. We can argue about how that money has been spent and whether the contracts Doug Armstrong has given out were good, but the truth is that Stillman and company have spent the money in an attempt to make this team as good as it can be.
Similarly, they have put a lot of money into the arena. Over the last two summers, the newly named Enterprise Center has undergone almost a complete makeover. That facelift will be completed in the summer of 2019.
The idea behind all that is the smart, yet somewhat rarely used philosophy that you have to spend money to make money. So many corporations want to slash spending and make more money, but Stillman and his advisers realized the Enterprise Center was not going to get any other events besides hockey if they did not make changes. He, and they, had the courage to put the money in, knowing it could pay off in the future.
Most of the Blues owners have wanted to win. Bill Laurie pumped a ton of money into the roster and came close, but they couldn’t run the business well enough to keep it going.
Stillman and his team are putting in the leg work to make all the spending viable. Under Stillman’s ownership, the Blues managed to land the Winter Classic, which brought in tons of money to the team and the city.
For the longest time, fans in St. Louis did not even dream of hosting a Winter Classic. At most, we all hoped we might be the visiting team in one just to play in one.
It just felt like professional sports leagues did not care about the city. Stillman’s ownership group and the people he brought in to help run the Blues took on those challenges.
Due to the renovations made, the crew could go full bore on getting an All Star Game to St. Louis. It did not take very long and the city will host the 2020 All Star Game, the first one in St. Louis since 1988.
All of this plays into the value of the franchise. Hopefully Stillman has no plans to sell the team, but the falue has gone up.
A Forbes article in the summer of 2018 listed the Blues as the 17th most valuable team. That is right in the middle of the pack overall, but only Dallas, Minnesota and Chicago have higher values in the division.
Even for all their hooplah, the Blues have more value than even Nashville.
The Blues have also had some of their best on-ice success under Stillman’s leadership too. The Blues have won more than 40 games in every full season under Stillman. The team has averaged a .633 win percentage with him as the owner.
One of the benefits of Stillman’s group is they are almost all local people who are fans of the team. That does not automatically make you a good owner, but it does not hurt. They all care about the team. Stillman said they all consider themselves stewards of the team more than just owners.
They want to run a good business, but they want what is best for the product and the fans and the team. That is a rare thing any more.
We have seen the worst of things. Stan Kroenke will only put as much effort into his teams so that they turn a profit. He could not care less about anything else. We have seen owners that meddle too much, such as Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.
Stillman fits right in the middle. You see him at all the games, clearly invested in the actual team and results. However, you don’t see him dipping his fingers into it, leaving the team decisions to those in charge of the team such as Doug Armstrong.
St. Louis does not always have the best luck in these sorts of matters. We found the four leaf clover when Stillman took over.