LEWISTON — On-ice issues aside, the Lewiston Maineiacs begin their seventh season in Lewiston this week with a smaller, revamped staff and a new focus aimed at reconnecting the team with the community, a bond that was clearly shattered last spring when it announced — twice — a move to another town.

“Overall, the reception has been good,” MacAdam said. “Has it been incredible? Some days, absolutely, and other days, it’s been tough going because of a combination of people not being able to mentally move on from their viewpoint of the past and the financial situation that we’re all under now.”

Two staff members who have been in direct contact with organizations and businesses — director of group ticket sales Alex Reed and director of marketing Rob Mainville — have been on the front lines in the early going.

“The biggest concern is a trust thing,” Reed said. “Some people feel like they’ve been taken advantage of, or that the team has cheated them a little bit, and that’s what we have to keep reinforcing. Yes, we’ve admitted our mistakes in the past, and now, we’re here to fix them. That’s what we’re doing now. Our staff is small, but it’s committed to making this team work here in Lewiston.”

“I’d be less than forthright if I said that we weren’t facing a great challenge,” Mainville said. “Unemployment is up, salaries are down and everyone’s been forced to adjust.”

The team has also made some adjustments in an attempt to streamline its operations.

“There are two things we’ve done most to help us in reducing costs,” MacAdam said. “One thing is that we’re running a more efficient business. We’ve eliminated a lot of costs, things that we’re doing more for ourselves instead of having them done for us.”

One example MacAdam cited was the cost of dealing with immigration, where he said the team has cut a $13,000 expense “simply by doing things in-house.”

Another example MacAdam provided was smart scheduling.

“Small example, but big savings was in the scheduling,” MacAdam said. “We made two trips to Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or last year, which basically doubles your expenses. We’re going there once this year. Is that going to halve our expenses? No, but they will be significantly lower, and at the same time, it’s easier on our players. They don’t have to go there twice, and it should improve our on-ice performance.”

“The other thing we’ve done is just ask more people,” MacAdam continued. “The No. 1 reason people don’t buy tickets is that they’ve never been asked. We’ve been very aggressive with our campaigns.”

Despite their efforts, the Maineiacs are still running into roadblocks.

“Some people still think we’re moving,” MacAdam said. “They’ve missed the fact that we’ve made a three-year commitment, that we’re signing three-year deals every day with partners.”

One thing the Maineiacs haven’t done is cut back on spending in marketing and advertising going into the new season.

“We can’t cut corners, and, if anything, we need to spend more,” MacAdam said. “More on marketing, more on advertising, more on our efforts overall to go out and sell the business. It’s the wrong thing to cut back, and it’s worked for us. Some people have used (the economic climate) as an excuse, but savvy business people know that when times are tough, you don’t cut back you promotions and your marketing. If anything, you do the reverse.”

The team wouldn’t comment on the specific number of season tickets, corporate partnerships or group sales they’ve been successful in selling, saying only that they are “on the right track.”

“We had a very conscious plan when we started our selling season,” MacAdam said. “The first part of the plan was to realize that people were upset, and were going to be upset, and to listen and understand and appreciate the reasons why they were unhappy with the team. We made no excuses, and we still make no excuses for what happened. The second part now is to make people aware that we have a three-year plan to get the team back on solid financial footing.

“We want to work with as many local organizations as we can,” MacAdam continued. “We want to be a community oriented team, and we feel an obligation to help local groups.”

“This is a fresh start,” Reed said. “This is an opportunity for this team to really change from the past and move forward.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.