Chris Presson has settled into life in Edmonton. The Oklahoma native, who has spent the last five years living in Phoenix, had to buy his first winter jacket but he did get through his first winter in Canada.
Presson was a guest on 630 CHED Mornings with Chelsea Bird and Shaye Ganam on Friday. He said he’s really looking forward to getting his family to join him soon from Phoenix to settle down in his new home.
Presson was asked about his move to Edmonton and position as president and CEO of the Eskimos.
“I really like it,” said the former president of both the Arizona Suns of the NBA G-League and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League.
“It took me 90 days to have any semblance of what’s going on. Different country, different process, reporting to a board is different than reporting to an individual owner.”
Part of the attraction for Presson was the reputation the Eskimos have in the sports world.
“I like an adventure and I like to work with iconic franchises, and this is an iconic franchise.
“I don’t care what part of North America you look at or what sport you look at, this is an iconic franchise and I wanted to be a part of it.”
The 2020 CFL season will be the first full season for Presson in charge. After observing for a lot of last season before coming on board full time in September, he has plans for the future.
“There are a thousand things that I would like to do this season – but I do have to temper my expectations because we have a partner, we don’t own the stadium so we have to work with the city on a number of things we want to do and some of those things take time but we are working on a few things that will make a difference.”
He has been around in sports long enough to know that winning is the most important marketing tool.
“We plan to have a better team this year. Hopefully the biggest change will be on the field and we will be more consistent winning games at home and throughout the season.”
Winning sells tickets, but so does a good deal.
Last year the Eskimos unveiled a kids-get-in-free-for-the-summer-games campaign and also added $22 general admission tickets. Both were successful, as was the Ultimate Sports Fan pass over the holidays that sold over 700 ticket packages for games with the Eskimos, FC Edmonton, the Prospects and the Stingers.
New this year is the $99 season ticket.
“We only allotted 1,200 seats and there is no doubt we will sell out that 1,200 allotment.
“So, we are figuring out what Plan B is to keep that momentum going. Giving people an opportunity to come back and sample the product again to be a part of something that more than likely they were a part of before and because of where they are in life right now, may be more challenging.”
Presson says the Eskimos are trying to make it as affordable as possible.
“It wasn’t good enough for us to do a $99 seat; we did a payment plan as well. We feel just about everybody can afford $9 bi-weekly on a month basis.”
There is a lot of competition out there for disposable income and Presson knows that comes from other sports too – especially this year with what looks like an Oilers team that will make the playoffs, and Presson will be cheering for the NHL season and the CFL season to overlap.
“The better the Oilers do, the the better we do. We want the Oilers to go deep into the playoffs, we want the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup because sports tends to energize a city. It provides the moxie for the city as a whole and that only benefits us.”
It used to happen a lot on the 1980s and most recently in 2006 – but it sounds like Presson would be OK with the Oilers and the Eskimos playing on the same night sometime in June. He also probably hopes the Eskimos are on the road if it does happen.