- Chill Factor: How a Minor-League Hockey Team Changed a City Forever by David Paitson, and Craig Merz
Chill Factor, written by David Paitson and Craig Merz, is a valuable contribution to the business history of North America hockey. Paitson and Merz take the reader into an exploration of how a minor-league hockey team, the Columbus Chill, found a foothold in the Ohio State University sports town and paved the way for the revitalization of the city, by securing public and private financial supports for the development of the new downtown arena, as well as bringing the National Hockey League (NHL) franchise Blue Jackets to Columbus in the fall of 2000.
Much of the book focuses on important managerial issues confronting sport administration and marketing practitioners. In the first part of the book, Paitson and Merz explain the early history, formation, and marketing success of the Columbus Chill. Mainly, Paitson and Merz underpin the decisive factors leading to the marketing success of the Chill: marketing selection decision (that is, segmentation, targeting, and positioning strategies), strategic communication strategy (for example, media selections, brand message formula, and promotion campaigns), and leveraging of the administrative staff.
In the second part of the book, Paitson and Merz elaborate on the Chill's numerous operational challenges and achievements in a town with a lack of hockey-related interest, experience, and infrastructure. One of the major challenges that the Chill organization [End Page 521] faced during the course of its eight-year run (1991–99) was the scheduling conflicts with the facility management group, the state fair manager. In addition, Paitson and Merz freely discuss the challenges facing team management in regard to a walkout of the team's players and recruitments of former players and coaches, along with the structure of minor-league hockey in North America. Finally, Paitson and Merz take the reader into the historic venture making the Chill the first minor-league hockey franchise ever to construct, own, and operate ice facilities for the community, such as youth sports development.
In the final part of the book, Paitson and Merz elucidate the long road to the approval of the construction of a new downtown arena and the arrival of the NHL expansion team. Paitson and Merz detail public–private facility financing, including public financing sources, viewpoints of public oppositions, approval processes for a public bond election, financial commitment through private partnerships, and impacts and roles of influential/political business leaders. Revealing numerous unexpected struggles and successes throughout the book, Paitson and Merz highlight for the reader an important marketing and leadership lesson: that "luck is when preparation meets opportunity" (285).
In sum, Paitson and Merz earnestly discuss the setbacks and triumphs of the operations of the Columbus Chill and the success of the city with the aid of the minor-league hockey team. The book's notable contributions are in the efforts made to provide a compelling historical sport business case based on a very volatile minor-league climate, to explore broad and detailed sport management topics ranging from sport marketing to sport facility management and governance, and to include photo illustrations of the Chill's unique and edgy promotion campaigns in a pre-Internet age. Overall, essential sport administrative/marketing cases and solutions are synthesized in this book. Chill Factor by Paitson and Merz is indeed a worthwhile read and a welcome exploration of the business history of North America hockey.