By Jasiri Whipper
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – In one way or another, hockey always has been part of Darren Abbott’s life. In his native Canton, N.Y., he grew up playing the game through high school and college in Canada. His father was a hockey coach on the college level.
Abbott, 39, of Mount Pleasant, now serves as president of the South Carolina Stingrays, where he oversees the business end of the minor league team’s operations. Abbott is responsible for controlling spending and generating revenues through tickets sales and business sponsorships. Abbott’s office is in North Charleston off West Montague Avenue near the North Charleston Coliseum, where the team practices and plays.
With a staff of 15, he oversees several departments, including sales, marketing and public relations. Abbott is always thinking of new and different ways to generate ticket sales, especially now, given the country’s current economic climate.
“It’s entertainment,” he says. “We’re fighting for discretionary dollars.”
The Stingrays recently sponsored a puck-hitting contest valued at $1 million.
Jared Bednar, head coach and general manager for the Stingrays, praises Abbott’s work.
“Darren’s done a good job being proactive about coming up with new ideas that help our business,” Bednar says. “Both (of) us want what’s best for our organization.
Since 2006, when Abbott was named president, ticket sales have grown, Bednar says.
In June, the ECHL named Abbott executive of the year for raising attendance at Stingrays games.
Before being named team president, Abbott, who has been with the Stingrays for 11 years, was the team’s play-by-play radio announcer and director of public relations and broadcasting from 1999-06.
Abbott attributes his success to franchise owners, who have given him space to experiment with business practices and his sales team of mostly 20- to 30-year-olds who keep him young, he says.
“It’s exciting to try new things to see how they work.”